April 2017 – Michelle Demarest Sunseri

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MICHELLE DEMAREST SUNSERI was a young lawyer when she moved both her family and her practice to the Northshore — years ago. Adapting to the needs of the community during that time, Michelle transitioned from the commercial and corporate law in which she had been trained into the area of family law. Now a highly recognized family law attorney with special training in mediation and collaborative law, Michelle is expanding her practice to more comprehensively address the legal needs of today.

This summer, Michelle will begin working with husband and fellow attorney J. Douglas “Doug” Sunseri and merge her practice with the law firm of Nicaud and Sunseri. In opening and managing the firm’s Northshore office, Michelle will have the unique ability to fully address the diverse legal needs of St. Tammany Parish residents and business owners in several different dimensions.

“The Northshore is a different place than it was 20 years ago. The make up of our business community has changed. Our population has grown and become more dynamic as well. Clients today have more complicated legal needs, yet they have less time to understand them,” Michelle said. “I take the time to listen to their needs, identify the most appropriate channels and navigate them to achieve a swift resolution.” Michelle has an innate ability to translate complex legal concepts in a way that is easy for a lay person to understand. In addition to serving as a legal analyst on the “Think Tank” with Garland Robinette, she frequently co-hosts “All Things Legal” with her husband on Sunday mornings (both on WWL-AM/FM).

While Michelle and Doug had long hoped to one day merge their practices, the timing was not right until now. A blended family, they’ve focused on rearing their five children rather than spending time and resources into transitioning their firms. Now that their youngest is a sophomore in high school, they have decided to take the plunge. “After four years of marriage, we are finally moving in together,” Michelle said. “Just as we complement each other as spouses and parents, we complement each other as attorneys. It is a partnership that not only benefits our clients, it is a great opportunity for our family as well.”

Explaining that they walk the walk of a blended family, Michelle’s personal experiences enable her to bring a unique perspective to her clients. As a young widow with two young girls, she knows what it is like having to maneuver through the legal system, dealing with succession and related estate issues, while also grieving the loss of a loved one. She’s endured the stress of being a single parent. She’s faced the challenges that come with blending two families. Michelle’s compassion for her clients is heartfelt, and her commitment to achieving their legal goals is unwavering.

With the aim to provide counsel throughout all phases of life—both personally and professionally—Michelle covers the full spectrum of family law concerns. She helps her clients establish fair, mutually acceptable child custody arrangements and addresses pivotal, and often complex, financial matters such as spousal support and marital property division. Recognizing that many roadblocks to resolution stemmed from dysfunctional communications, she pursued extensive training in mediation as well as collaborative law in order to help couples and families find the most effective, cost-efficient paths to resolution of their disputes.

Michelle is a volunteer with the 22nd Judicial District Court’s Conflicts and Resolution Parenting Program. She teaches communication techniques and co-parenting skills to divorcing parents during an 8-week, court-mandated program. “The real beneficiaries of the program are the children. Children thrive when they see their parents working together, even if they are no longer living together,” she said.

“With the appropriate skills and tools in place, you can help protect the ones you love, for today and for tomorrow,” she continued. “Estate planning is a critical component of the equation. Some people don’t realize that having a will may not be enough to ensure your plans are executed. Issues such as living wills, powers of attorney, property transfers and trusts—especially those that provide for care of children or disabled persons—should be considered.”

Concerns over elder care are becoming more prelevant as the population ages. “There are a multitude of concerns that come with aging parents. Some of my clients need help accessing benefits to provide in-home care for their parents. There may be additional benefits they may not even be aware of that I can bring to their attention. Medicare eligibility planning and transfers of property are important components to accessing benefits when the need arises,” Michelle said. “There is also concern over elder abuse, from preventing abuse to pursuing legal recourse if abuse is suspected.”

While Michelle maintains her passion for family law, she is excited about the opportunity to return to her roots in the corporate arena. “We are well positioned to meet diverse business needs. We are equipped to handle Fortune 500 companies that may need to retain counsel or smaller businesses that periodically seek guidance for employment, insurance or liability issues. We can negotiate, execute and dispute contracts for individual professionals or assist start-up companies with establishing LLCs, LLPs or corporations. The fact that I am able to do this in partnership with a legal professional I admire, respect and love makes it an even greater blessing,” she said.

“One of the greatest lessons Doug has taught me is that things may not end up looking like I think they will, but they will fall into place according to God’s plan. I am both confident and grateful for the opportunity the Lord has given to begin this new chapter in our professional lives.”

Michelle R. Demarest, Attonrney at Law, can be reached at 985-624-9697 or Demarestlaw.com. Her practice is located at 450 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite D, in Mandeville. This is a paid advertisement by Demarest Law Firm.


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