Born and raised in Veracruz, México, Maria is an attorney and a professionally trained mediator, certified by the Washington Mediation Association, deeply committed to help her clients resolve conflict without having to litigate. Maria earned her law degree at the University of Washington School of Law in 1992. Upon graduation, she went on to represent clients in civil and criminal matters in municipal, district and juvenile courts. In 1999, she became the interim director of the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law where she taught family and dependency law, as well as advocacy for youth involved in the foster care system. As director of the clinic, Maria was instrumental in drafting and arguing policy changes on behalf of families. Maria’s strong interest in family and child advocacy prompted her to shift the focus of her practice from litigation to mediation and collaborative law. Her professional mission is to help her clients find solutions that promote fairness, trust and respect for all family members, especially their children.
Maria is a frequent presenter and is an active member of the following organizations: Latino/Latina Bar Association of Washington (board member), Washington Mediation Association (board member), Collaborative Professionals of Washington, King County Collaborative Law Professionals, International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, WSBA Family Law Section, Washington State Alternative Dispute Resolution, Washington Mediation Association, Mujeres of the Northwest (founder), King County Alternative Dispute Resolution.
In Maria’s own words:
The focus of my practice is to help families overcome conflict without having to go to court. I have been practicing law since 1992 and have spent many of those years doing trial work. At some point during my career, I realized that the traditional judicial process was not helping the pain and suffering of families who were experiencing conflict. Even when we “won” our cases, by the time we were done with the process, my clients were usually traumatized and felt betrayed by a system that had failed them. This was particularly true for clients who came from other countries and did not speak English. Early in 2002, I began to explore mediation and negotiations as an alternative method to help families avoid court and move on with their lives. It quickly became apparent that, especially in cases where the best interest of the children was at stake, families were best served by this kinder and healthier approach. I decided to shift my efforts and I began to pursue my certification as a mediator, which I eventually obtained from the Washington Mediation Association. I also took all the trainings required to become a collaborative attorney. Since then, I have been assisting my clients overcome their difficulties with dignity, trust, and respect. Today I am committed to mediation and collaborative work and I am proudly assisting my clients overcome challenges within a much better framework in terms of emotional and financial cost - as well as long-term satisfaction.
Not every case is appropriate for mediation or the collaborative process. My philosophy is to always involve my clients in deciding which alternative non-litigation process may be best suited for their unique circumstances. Together we discuss the various options to determine the approach which will best meet their individual needs. It is very important to me that my clients are fully and timely informed of all issues relating to their case. I work hard to be very responsive and available to them. Above all, I believe that strong and effective representation of my clients includes compassion, understanding and honesty.