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Rebecca Iannantuoni remembers the initial phone call from a woman, "Jane," who after devoting the majority of her adult life to caring for her brother in the wake of his traumatic brain injury, found herself in desperate need of assistance.
As Jane's health deteriorated from her own serious illness, her greatest concern was ensuring a succession plan was in place for her brother's care after she was gone. Rebecca worked with Jane through the devastating final stages of her illness to create a plan for her brother. "Being able to give her peace of mind is the best measure of success I can have in this profession," Rebecca said.
Rebecca learned the importance of advocacy at an early age. Her older sister was born with profound special needs and ultimately required care in a group home setting. Rebecca's weekly visits to her sister's home revealed the fundamental need to advocate for those who could not do so for themselves.
In her practice, Rebecca represents fiduciaries, handles estate administration and advises individuals and families in all aspects of estate planning. Her particular focus, however, rests in elder law and special needs planning.
Her deep-seated perspective of championing for those who cannot advocate for themselves has become an important part of Rebecca's practice. Her work includes triaging complex family dynamics, considering both legal and health issues, liaising with courts and developing a path that protects all interests.
Rebecca believes that the key component of good lawyering is the ability to actively listen to the client. "Hearing and acknowledging the client's perspective builds the trust and credibility that become the touchstone of a successful attorney-client relationship," said Rebecca.
One of her clients, Lisa Lugauskas, describes Rebecca's unique qualities. "The first thing I think of … is [Rebecca's] level of empathy," said Lugauskas, who is vice president/branch counsel of Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. "It is in her constitution to help others in need."
Lugauskas, who has been working with Rebecca on an estate matter, is impressed with her dedication. "Rebecca always asks, 'What can I do?'… 'How can I help?'"
In addition to her client advocacy in the office, Rebecca finds tremendous gratification in her pro bono work for the Palliative Medical Legal Partnership. The partnership is a joint effort between the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School and the palliative care clinic at Smilow Cancer Center – Yale New Haven Hospital. This program provides pro bono legal services to patients with life-limiting illnesses and health harming legal issues.
When Rebecca is not assisting clients and their families, she enjoys spending time with her own family, including her husband and their four children, the youngest of whom has special needs. She is also a proud member of a masters rowing team that practices on the Housatonic River and competes all over the East Coast.
Of all the lessons Rebecca has learned throughout her career and her life, the one that resonates most comes from her mother who taught her always to "be kind and gracious."