I started The Clements Firm in the beginning of 2011 after years of experience working for Sidley Austin, one of the world’s biggest law firms. For most of that time, I focused primarily on helping people through tough criminal defense and immigration cases. Through this work, I was recognized by SuperLawyers for multiple years (2014, 2015, 2018).
I never thought I would go into estate planning, as I wanted to help people ground down or ignored by the system. In law school, classes seemed to focus on tax avoidance strategies for the ultra-rich, people who already had armies of lawyers jousting for their favor. I have since learned from life experience that everyone needs a plan to help protect their loved ones from protracted court battles in the event of their incapacity or death.
After I graduated from Duke Law School and clerked for a year at the Texas Supreme Court, I went to work for Sidley Austin. Sidley had a big commitment to pro bono work, which allowed me to help people I never would have been able to help on my own. As a result of some of my immigration pro bono work, I was honored with the 2011 Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the out of state division.
I was first drawn into estate planning by my own family’s needs. My family asked me to develop a structure to allow current and future generations to keep sharing my great-grandparents’ summer cabin. After the previous generation had spent decades of disagreement involving various lawyers, my mother and aunt were diagnosed with a fatal genetic disease. I dove into creating a consensus among 35 family members on a way to preserve our special summer sanctuary. It became apparent that estate planning was important for everyone, even us.
Soon afterwards, even though my mother and my brother both knew that they had this fatal disease, neither one had an estate or incapacity plan in place when they passed away. My brother’s death is why we are here in Miami and why I changed my practice to estate planning. My brother tried to scramble to put a plan in place before he died, but he didn’t have time. He died far too soon (in many ways). He always meant to have a plan in place, but no time seemed right.
Through these experiences, I learned first-hand what happens without an estate plan – as over a year-and-a-half later we are still in probate court with my mother’s estate. And that’s with all family members on the same page!
But through these hardships, I have also learned how essential thoughtful incapacity planning is. A medical directive that makes your wishes known can be an incredible gift for your loved ones. Before my brother agreed to be put into an induced coma for machine respiration, he set a timeframe for its end. By doing that, he relieved his wife of the tremendous burden of having to make that decision.
After being faced with these tough family issues, I threw myself into learning about incapacity planning, trusts, and estates in order to help other people avoid these problems. For further information, my credentials are listed below:
Prior to entering law, I founded computer consulting companies in New York and North Carolina. I designed and developed large scale reliable computer software systems with special expertise in financial portfolio management software and bioinformatics tools.
I graduated with honors from the Duke University School of Law in 2005 and received my B.A. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to beginning private practice, I clerked for the Honorable Scott A. Brister, Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas.
I have always attended national and local educational seminars to stay on the cutting-edge of legal issues. I am a member of the Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami and the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar. When I was a criminal defense lawyer, I attended and graduated from the intensive National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia, as well as undergoing the same Standardized Field Sobriety training as law enforcement.
Bar and Court Admissions:
District of Columbia, 2007
Maryland, 2011 (inactive)
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
United States Circuit Court for the D.C. Circuit
United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit
United States Circuit Court for the Fourth Circuit
“The GPLv3 – Legal Risks in Government Applications”, IT Law Today, July/August 2007, with Richard Wilder & Allison Schary
“Flipping a Coin: A Solution for the Inherent Unreliability of Eyewitness Identification Testimony”, 40 Ind. L. Rev. 271 (2007) – available here.