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Windy City Times 2023-12-13
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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Family-law firm forges new LGBT partnership
by Gretchen Rachel Hammond
2017-05-21

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With the freedom to marry won, naturally the LGBTQ community discovered that it has also come with some heavy baggage including everything from estate planning to divorce.

Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, a Chicago firm, was well-positioned to take on such a thriving new set of challenges. Now they have forged a partnership with LAGBAC—a Chicago-based association of LGBT legal professionals and allies.

It was a partnership the firm celebrated with a reception and Continuing Education (CLE) course that presented May 16 attendees at the Chicago loop's River Roast restaurant with the latest challenges in LGBT family law and the strategies Schiller DuCanto & Fleck has developed to meet them.

The LAGBAC partnership began in earnest when the firm took on new associate Adam Miel Zebelian, is on LAGBAC's board of directors.

"It was a natural relationship to develop," Zebelian told Windy City Times. "Schiller DuCanto & Fleck have wanted to support the LGBT community for a long time and this was a great opportunity."

"We've had people at LAGBAC events for the last couple of years," Donald C. Schiller—the firm's founder and a senior partner—said. "When Adam joined our firm, he made us more aware of their work. He said that we could be a great source of information for them and that we could learn a lot from them. It's a two-way street."

Zebelian was part of the CLE panel that also included Schiller DuCanto & Fleck associate Anne Prenner Schmidt and partner Brian A. Schroeder. The firm has covered territory that has run the gamut of case law post-Obergefell v. Hodges, such as healthcare planning and access for transgender individuals, taxes, wills and estates alongside issues that same-sex divorce has raised.

"The family is the basic social and economic unit of America," Schiller said. "LGBT people are now part of that unit. So, all the complexities, benefits and detriments are affecting the community just as much as they are straight people. I see a greater involvement LGBT people with us in dealing with the problems that heterosexual people have to confront."

For the transgender community, there are still challenges to be faced regarding both criminal and civil law, where the problems of misgendering and a lack of understanding of trans issues persist. Some attorneys and judges have used societal bias to attack a transgender individual as unreliable or untrustworthy which has led to negative case outcomes.

Schiller believes more transgender sensitivity training is necessary but, as far as the legal system is concerned, "I think it's going to take a long time to get it where we want it to be."

"When dealing with people brought up in environments which did not recognize transgender people as having rights or being equal, laws rub against that foundation," he said. "Over time, as millennials get more involved and become justices and governors, that's when it's going to change."

For more information on Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, visit SDFLaw.com .


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