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Alisa Huffman, MSW, JD Family & Elder Law
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About Alisa

When I play the gratitude game with my kids, I always list my educational opportunities near the top. Early in life, I learned that often, good things come from difficult experiences. College was like that. I was able to attend The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because of a scholarship from the N. C. Veteran's Administration. This opportunity would not have been possible except for my father's lifelong disability from service in the U. S. Army Air Corps.

I've always been a person serious about life. As an undergraduate studying psychology and religious studies, I enjoyed exploring some of the big, unanswered questions from my childhood: Is there a purpose and meaning to life? If so, how do we find it? Does suffering pay off? What happens after we die?

After receiving my B. A. in psychology from UNC, I entered a three-year graduate program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky. At the time I graduated, Southern was the only accredited Master of Social Work program within a seminary. After graduating, I practiced clinical social work for five years before entering law school at Campbell University. I enjoyed practicing law in Wake County before my thirteen-year career as a court manager in state government. Most recently at the N. C. Administrative Office of the Courts, I worked as the Senior Manager of Court Programs where I supported court programs across the state: family courts, custody mediation, drug courts, domestic violence, and alternative dispute resolution.

Like all of us, the formal hats I wear (social worker, lawyer, court administrator) and informal hats (wife, mother, divorceé, sister, friend, daughter) are integrated into all that I do. One reason I decided to return to the practice of family and elder law at this point in my life is so that I can wear the various hats I've collected over the years to help families grow and evolve through some of the tough transitions in life.

As an Attorney 

I represent clients in the traditional attorney/client relationship. From the beginning of this relationship, I help clients distinguish between their personal and family business issues and then develop an action plan for resolving both. (See blog entry). While family and elder law issues have unique and limited definitions under the law, in real life, these issues are intertwined in complicated ways that feel overwhelming if you are not able to organize them and see their relationship to each other.

Using Guardianship as an example, family members can sometimes reach different conclusions about is best for their loved one. As an elder law attorney, I assist clients in reframing the situation from the medical, emotional, quality of life and legal perpsectives so they can reach compromises that allow everyone to pull together in the same direction to support their loved one rather than fueiling the conflict that divides them.  

As a Social Worker 

I do not serve as a therapist in the traditional sense. However, with my client's permission, I enable discussion about some of the most difficult issues clients have ever faced. This includes discussing death, disability, and intra-familial issues and concerns that are often not shared outside the family.

In the tradition of short-term, brief therapy, I help clients identify goals that are in their best interests--as they define them. Then, I coach (motivate, educate, challenge) clients to see the issues in a new light and adopt strategies and action plans to achieve their goals. In the area of estate planning, I help clients develop solid, realistic plans so that they feel good that they are as prepared for the future as possible. Many times, developing an estate plan enables my clients to let themselves off the worry-hook because it is something they have procrastinated for a long time. A strength of mine is to identify and name challenges and barriers that fuel stress, conflict, and discord. By bringing these issues into the discussion, clients develop plans and strategies that help them move to a new understanding about their situation. I don't shy away from difficult conversations or truths that sometimes need to be discussed. And when the majority of my clients either cry, or come close to tears in my office, I welcome and support that deep expression of vulnerability--a great strength in my opinion.

As a Business Owner 

Funny that the advice I heard in graduate school was similar to the advice I heard in law school when it came to How to Market Your Business. That is, The clients you want are those who want you. Some professors would go even farther to make the point that as a professional, what you have to sell is yourself--not widgets. I also think the inverse is true. That I attract the kinds of clients that I most want to have.

I remember attending a continuing legal educational course and overhearing attorneys complain about client characteristics that they didn't like. I felt fortunate that I enjoy working with all of my clients. I can count on one hand then number of people that I've consulted with and refused to represent. So, I'm not cherry-picking the best clients from the larger group of potential clients. I simply like people and appreciate the struggles with imperfections that make us all human beings.  

I do screen potential clients when they contact my office. Of course I ensure that there is not a conflict in interest. But more importantly, I want to ensure that I have the knowledge, skill, and ability to help. Establishing expectations from the very beginning is good for me and my clients. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill    The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary  Campbell University

    The Practice

    Alisa Huffman, MSW. JD, is licensed to practice law only in the State of North Carolina. The materials included on this web site are not intended as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the use of the information from this site or the links from this site to other servers.

    Contact us
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    311 S Academy Street Cary, NC 27511
    Phone: 919.655.0414

    Email: alisa@alisahuffman.com