I have over twenty years of experience conducting legal investigations of civil rights and employment issues for public school districts and government agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations and private employers. Because of my unique legal background and training, my investigation services are typically sought in the areas that can result in costly litigation: allegations of harassment, including sexual harassment and violence; discrimination on the basis of protected status (sex, race, disability, national origin, religion, and/or gender identity); and retaliation.
Throughout my career, I have trained other lawyers, administrators, and human resources staff on how to conduct prompt, effective, and impartial investigations. For 16 years I investigated complaints and led investigation teams in complex complaints for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. I also developed, ran, and oversaw a civil rights department with both investigation and compliance reporting obligations in an urban public school district with almost 100 schools, 55,000 students, and 6000 employees. I have served as a Title IX Coordinator and been also been responsible for addressing access issues for persons with disabilities and responding to complaints of harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
I am committed to on-going learning and have been trained in trauma-informed practices and the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). I am certified in Forensic Experiential Trauma Interviewing (FETI) and have also been tested and certified as a Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals.
I actively participate in professional organizations that provide support and training on the legal issues relevant to my investigations practice. Some of my current professional activities include:
Immediate Past Chair of the Civil Rights Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association
Current Vice President for K-12 institutions for the Northwest Association of Title IX Administrators (NW ATIXA)
Member of the Association of Workplace Investigators and the Seattle Circle/Chapter
Member of Labor and Employment Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association
As an experienced trainer, I provide organizational support to address identified areas of concern and engage participants with real life scenarios that make the training memorable. My training services include live, in-person training; webinars; and design of e-learning environments. I also provide consulting and monitoring services. If you are interested in training or consulting services, please contact me to discuss your organization and circumstances so that together we can determine how my services will work best for your issues, organizations, and audience.
Below are just a few examples of training and consulting I have provided previously:
Title IX Sexual Harassment, including Sexual Violence
Overview of Responsibilities for School Compliance Officers for Administrators
Investigations for New Administrators and Attorneys
Discrimination and Harassment 101: Responsibilities for School Staff, including Safety and Security Officers
Special Education Law and Advocacy
Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Disability Discrimination
Transgender Rights: Legal Issues and Legislation
Language Access in Education
Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying
I provide civil rights law and education legal services to public schools, colleges, universities, and employers. I also provide limited scope representation and legal coaching to individuals with civil rights and education issues.
For education institutions and employers, my contract and consultation services can be employed to ensure that your civil rights policies, procedures, and handbooks are legally sound and are being effectively applied. I also provide legal advice and support to human resources staff and administrators about how to respond to complaints, conduct thorough and impartial investigations, and effectively resolve complaints. Additionally, I have experience conducting and leading teams in civil rights compliance reviews, including special education, language access, facilities access, and information and communication technology reviews..
For individuals, I offer limited scope representation and “legal coaching.” The scope of my representation depends on the individual client's issue and level of assistance needed. For example, for parents of students with disabilities, I have provided education consultation services by reviewing school records, evaluations, and current services to make recommendations for improving self-advocacy strategies and navigating systems. In other cases, I may provide direct representation at IEP meetings, discipline or due process hearings, negotiations, and appeals. For employees, I have assisted with filing complaints of discrimination and harassment with agencies. I have also provide legal coaching, consultation, and support to employees by helping to identify critical facts, relevant policies and resources, and to assess options for complaint resolution.
Family law experiences are intensely personal. My family law practice approach is as a counselor-at-law: I provide compassionate support and guidance while also handling legal filings, mediation, and court appearances. In addition to legal know-how, I grew up in a blended family and I am a solo parent, so I understand first-hand many of the personal and emotional issues that can arise with families in transition. My goal is to understand your unique family circumstances to help guide you and your family to a better, happier life.
I provide full representation and limited scope representation for specific issues or stages of your case ("unbundled legal services"). When working with you, I will explain the legal processes, as well as the emotional and financial implications of decisions, so that you are empowered to make informed decisions.
Of course, not all family law cases involve difficult situations, conflict, and trauma, but many do. I regularly rely on my facilitation and mediation skills, implement trauma-informed practices, and training in the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) when working with clients. I also have a great deal of experience working with adults and children with disabilities.
For thirty years, I have been an active volunteer and professional advocate for children, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities. I am a current volunteer with the King County Bar Association’s Family Law Mentor Program, which provides pro bono family law services in domestic violence situations. I also volunteer with Project Safety to assist persons in need with obtaining Domestic Violation Protection Orders. In the past, I have been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), represented parents in dependency proceedings, represented teen parents in parenting actions, and worked with youth and adult survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness.
Dissolution / Divorce
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Establishing Paternity and developing Parenting Plans
Third Party Custody, as well as Permanent and Temporary Guardianships
Adoptions, including same-sex second parent adoptions