Why did you choose to become a settlement planner?
I don’t think I chose to be a settlement planner as much as it chose me. I strongly feel that your past shapes your present. There was a time in my life that I would have made different decisions during a traumatic event if someone would have taken the time to educate me on my options. I didn’t come from a family with financial resources, including being on food stamps at 18. Being able to connect with clients on both an emotional and financial level are important to me as I know that the plan I assist them with will be a blueprint for the rest of their lives.
What do you enjoy most about being a settlement planner?
Since I have been working with clients for over 13 years, I enjoy looking back and seeing how well the plan worked. The birth injury clients are my favorites; it’s almost miraculous what therapy can do and the leaps and bounds that these resilient children make. Whether arranging a structured settlement or setting up a minor’s trust, I work on every case with the assumption that I will see the client again in the future and want to feel as confident about the plan then as I do when putting it together. When my personal thumbprint is on someone else’s life and it works, there is no better joy!
What are some of the challenges that your attorney clients face- and how do you help them?
Claimants are filled feelings, emotions, opinions and there are always outside influences. Balancing the expectations of what a settlement means to each claimant and how it will affect their individual situation can be tough. Human beings react well to having a process and understanding what is going to happen next. As a settlement planner, I am able to assist with defining their expectations so that the attorney can focus on getting the best result.
What are some of the challenges that your plaintiff clients face- and how do you help them?
When someone is going through a settlement, they are going through a transition in life. Many times, our clients are learning how to live with a “new normal” and experience many different emotions. I find they are comforted when I am able to help them identify that their feelings are normal. Transition averages a two-year timeline, so it’s ok to take the time you need to figure things out.
Share one of your favorite client stories:
I worked with a client who became a quadriplegic and his main goal was, “please take care of my wife”. It wasn’t about the therapy, the home, and the new normal that we created; he didn’t want to be a burden on his family. We became very close over the years. When he passed away last year, more than 6 years after the settlement, the plan worked and “we” took care of his wife. We planned everything to be sure it was set the way that he wanted and he and his family will be forever in my heart. That family will always be a favorite of mine.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
For the people who know me, I appear to always be working. However, the people who know me best know that what I do as a planner isn’t just my job, it’s my hobby. Life doesn’t happen between 8-5, Monday-Friday for our clients so I want to want help as many people as I can. I pinch myself often when I realize that I get to help people for a living…..all the resources I have come from helping others. It tends to make you want to help even more. For the record, my husband and I love to hike a lot and be out in nature, so I walk an average of 4 miles a day when I can.
What are you passionate about? Avocation of financial education with our clients, yet understanding the business side of a case for a law firm. There is a way to be able to help the firm with the business side of getting a case resolved quickly, as well as helping everyone step back and realize that the client needs a little breathing room to make appropriate decisions.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your life so far?
I will buy a bottle of wine for anyone who wants to know the many challenges. I feel very blessed to have learned from those challenges, though, and understand that each one pointed me to where I am today.
What is your personal motto?
You either live to live or live to die.
Traci and The Settlement Alliance-WEST will be sponsoring CAALA’s Women in Law Empowering Session on February 15th. You can contact her here.