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Pro Bono Hero: Marianne Coulton

Marianne Coulton is a solo practitioner who operates her own law firm named Marianne Coulton, P.A., located in Boynton Beach, Florida.  She was forced to retire in 2017 because she was suffering from severe chronic illnesses that she has now overcome to a degree that allowed her to return to the Practice of Law in March 2019.  To prepare to operate her new practice, Marianne attended the Florida (attorneys’) Bar Convention in June 2019 and completed many hours of Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”).  Marianne was graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., in 1978.  A former CPA (licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia) she obtained her CPA license (which is no longer active) after she worked as an auditor for the General Accounting Office and the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General for 10 years before attending law school.  During law school she authored a paper on International Partnership Taxation. 

 

Marianne practiced in Illinois after receipt of her Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern Law School in 1991, with honors, and she began to practice law in Florida in 2007 after recovering from breast cancer and the extensive side effects of chemotherapy.  Her past practice areas include:  Income tax preparation; counseling individuals and small business owners concerning income and estate planning as well as estate tax planning, formation of Family Limited Partnerships; probate matters; selection of types of business entities when forming a corporation or other entity to achieve asset protection; writing and reviewing contracts; employment agreements; independent contractor agreements; shareholders’ agreements; formation of non-profit entities and obtaining and retaining tax exemptions; formation and dissolution of partnerships; pursuing certain litigation matters for individuals and small businesses (including remedies for a breach of contract). A client Marianne met when practicing for a Boca Raton law firm years ago recently told her she was the most “tenacious attorney” he has ever met when she assisted him with a business contract issue.  Additionally, while practicing in Illinois from 1991 to 2016, Marianne worked with corporations who needed to sell assets, obtain bank financing, and she rendered legal opinions clients needed for corporate financing and also rendered securities advice, and assisted certain clients by preparing corporate documentation and closing Initial Public Offerings.  While working on Estate Planning in the Chicago area, Marianne was a member of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys.  In 2019, when she described her practice areas to another attorney, she was asked how many partners she had.  For now, the answer is none, but she is exploring the possibility of a partnership.

 

During 2019, Marianne invested significant time in helping different seniors with their legal issues.  She invested heavily in discovery procedures to defend a pro bono litigation client who survived the 9/11 atrocity in 2001 and she got the case, which alleged over $20,000 in damages, dismissed without mediation.  She has started work required to negotiate an offer in compromise with the IRS for a client who has been threatened with levy of his assets.  She also successfully negotiated a settlement for another client and collected an amount due under a contract without mediation or filing of a lawsuit.  In addition, she gave another pro bono client many hours of special attention in addressing housing problems which were contributing to her health and wellness problems and helped her invest in purchasing a home for the first time in her life.  Marianne also assisted aged neighbors in need of estate planning, real property matters, and obtaining settlement amounts available through a class action suit during 2020.  Marianne has reported that COVID-19 has led to her most challenging year ever in her lengthy career. In the past few months, an attorney told Marianne she was an “asset” to the Florida Bar.  Another client called her a “legal eagle.”

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