Allison L. Kierman is the founder of Kierman Law, a law firm specializing in estate planning and probate litigation, as well as business consulting. Allison is a natural caretaker, providing personalized and creative solutions for clients and is recognized as a Southwest Rising Star by Super Lawyers. Not only is Allison a dedicated professional, but she is also an active member of the community, serving as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Congregation Beth Israel and the Vice President of Legal for the National Counsel of Jewish Women of Arizona.
In this interview, Allison shares her background, the challenges of balancing her legal career with her role as a mother, and the importance of community involvement in informing her approach to practicing law.
Can you tell us about your personal background and how it led you to become a lawyer?
I grew up largely on a ranch and farm with my grandparents. The idea that you might have to sell the farm to pay the taxes always resonated with me. We always needed a lawyer to help with the family business, taxes, and estate planning. So in a way, I was sort of born into the role as an estate attorney and small business owner.
How do you balance the demands of your legal career and your role as a mother of two children and two pets?
Finding and keeping the balance is definitely hard. At the beginning of each academic year, my husband and I talk about who is doing what and when; we set goals for our family and professional careers; and we determine who is prioritizing the family on a general basis. We have flip flopped over the years in terms of these roles and always been on the same page about it has helped tremendously.
The other part of the balance is being confident enough to say “No” to opportunities and clients and setting parameters around when I can work and when I cannot. I’m a nurturer and a giver. So when a client asks for special considerations to meet at night or on the weekends, I always want to say “Yes.” I’ve learned over the years, though, that you can only say “Yes” a limited number of times. There needs to be some hard “Nos”; otherwise, you always end up working and never having any family time.
How do you approach the process of helping families plan for their future and financial security?
I always start with asking my clients about themselves, their families, their health, and their goals. I want to get to know them. This allows me to ask questions about things the client never considers about their estate plans and to give advice on how to craft their estate plans. I also listen, when a client changes their mind, wants to clarify, or just wants to understand how everything works. My plans are drafted for each client in particular and reflect who the client is.
How do you coordinate with financial planners, accountants and other advisors to ensure consistency and proper implementation of the estate plan?
Consistency and implementation are key. I think of myself as one team member, among many, for my clients. It is important that the estate plans I draft are financially possible. Meaning, if a client wants to give $2M to charity and ensure their children also have an inheritance, I work with the client’s financial advisor to ensure the client has enough funds for this plan and with the client’s accountant to maximize the tax deduction associated with the charitable gift and offset any inheritance taxes.
Can you tell us about your involvement in community volunteer work and how it informs your approach to practicing law?
I am the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Congregation Beth Israel and Vice President of Legal for the National Counsel of Jewish Women of Arizona. I have also served on Boards for the Jewish Community Center and Royal Oaks Retirement Community. This involvement has allowed me to get to know what is important in our community, what people are looking for, and, in particular, what types of charitable intentions they have.
Though I was not looking for it, my community work has focused a lot on life and legacy giving to ensure our community organizations continue beyond this next generation. So many in our community do want to give back and be heard. As organizations, we have to listen to what our members are saying and help them accomplish their goals. It’s been incredible to help Jewish organizations, in particular, raise money to ensure their legacy.