Additional Practice Areas

JELS Primary practice areas are Bullying and Discrimination in Schools and Appeals, in addition to those areas, JELS also does work on LGBTQI issues, and some Family Law and Estate Planning.

Discrimination, Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying in Education;

Outside of the courts, there are areas where institutions, provided with the right leverage will also uphold the spirit of the laws, particularly nondiscrimination laws. JELS’ goal is to work with families and students to provide them with leverage so that when students are discriminated against, whether through sexual harassment (which broadly includes everything from a hostile environment to sexual assault), unequally providing access to educational and recreational facilities (access to all classes, providing equatable access to sports and similar quality facilities), not engaging in disproportionate discipline (studies show that children of color are regularly disciplined, including suspended and expelled at higher rates than their Caucasian peers for the same and lesser offenses), that parents and students can work with schools to improve their treatment of their kids, and perhaps improve the overall school climate.

Specific issues include:

  • Unequal access to sports fields, schedules, coaches, or other school resources;
  • Sexual assault on school or college campuses;
  • Sexual harassment by students or faculty in the K-12 and collegiate settings;
  • Discrimination in school resources, services, books, etc. based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, and more.
  • Bullying, Harassment, and Intimidation in the K-12 setting, including cyberbullying

Appeals

Civil appeals are a particular passion at JELS. If a final decision by a court interprets the law incorrectly or enters into area of law without guidance, the issue(s) can be appealed to a higher court. Appeals work is different from trial work in a number of ways. For an appeal, with very limited exceptions, the only facts/information that can be presented to the court are those facts that were presented during trial. The appellate briefs will cite to the court record, not provide additional exhibits of information.  The focus of the appeal is on the law.  Appellate brief looks in depth at the statues, case law, sometimes even case law in other states in an effort to provide guidance for our courts on issues that have not been decided in Washington. The brief then argues that the trail court’s conclusion, was incorrect in some way.

In many instances, an appeal is only a partial victory as the appellate courts will remand (send the case back) to the trial court for findings consistent with the appellate court’s opinion.

There are multiple layers of appeal. In family law, most cases are in state court, which means the cases are typically appealed to the appellate court (Divisions I, II, and III) and then Division I, II, or III decisions can be appealed to the state supreme court.

LGBTQI Legal Issues;

In addition to the issues in education, JELS will assist in navigating transitioning in the school or workplace, JELS will assist with other legal civil legal issues connected with gender identity or sexual orientation. For example, JELS can assist with changing gender markers on legal documents. JELS will assist with other legal issues, and if the legal issue you experience connected with your gender identity or sexual orientation are outside of JELS’ primary practice area (i.e., employment), JELS will seek to provide referrals to attorneys who are knowledgeable and respectful.

 

Family Law & Estate Planning: 

The law provides protections for families. Whether a person is seeking to create a family and wants or needs to use alternative family formation methods (i.e., surrogacy, sperm donors, or adoption), laws exist to help make sure your family is protected in the way you intend.

There are also protections for families where the parents are no longer able to co-parent in the same household. While the issues that each family experiences are unique, there are many similarities across families. The law seeks to establish parenting plans that are in the best interest of the children and child support that reflects income and lifestyle so that children can live comfortably in both homes.

Every family should also have some basic estate planning documents like a will and powers of attorney. One aspect of estate planning is also completely within the control of individuals and their employers, routinely checking who your beneficiary is. A general rule of thumb is to update your estate planning documents every five years as people typically have one major life event every five years.

At JELS, we provide the following services.

  • Child support, establishing, adjusting, modifying, or answering questions if DCS is handling your modification or adjustment;
  • Parenting Plans – Research supports that in Washington, when parents want to be involved in the lives of their children, gender plays a limited role. The courts are not typically biased in favor of men or women, or in LGBTQ families bio parent vs non-bio parent, but look to the actual lives of the family and try to come up with solutions that are in the best interest of the children.
  • Adoption;
  • Surrogacy/Sperm Donor issues;
  • Wills
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Property Agreements: Prenuptial, post-nuptial and property settlement agreements
  • Dissolution of Committed Intimate Relationships – break-up of significant romantic relationships where there was no legal status (not married, domestic partnered or civil unioned)

Property agreements are one of the best protections that couples in non-traditional families (meaning polyamorous relationships, particularly those were more multiple people share the same home).

JELS will occasionally take cases outside the above mentioned practice areas, if they are similar in nature to the practice areas above or if the issues is of particular interest.