Aside from being one of the most trusted estate planning and business succession attorneys in the state of Illinois, Melanie Witt is also an informal family counselor, a relationship mediator, a confidante, a listener, and a psychologist of sorts.
She is also a self-proclaimed Starbucks addict.
“I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but I go to Starbucks usually five times a day,” chuckles Witt. “Luckily, the Starbucks is just down the street from me.”
Indeed, after working in downtown Chicago for more than 20 years, Witt is now enjoying having an office right in the heart of downtown Barrington.
“To be honest, I really don’t go to downtown Chicago much anymore,” says Witt, a mother of five who resides in Inverness. “I originally came to Barrington to ensure that I could accommodate more of my clients’ busy schedules. But’s it’s become so much more than that. I have completely fallen in love with this community. The Barrington community is so close-knit. Everyone knows each other. I’m a people person so I couldn’t be happier.”
Catering to business owners and executives, Witt and her business partner Mark O. Stern represent corporate fiduciaries and individuals in estate planning, philanthropic planning, and management of trusts and estates.
“In this field, people have to feel like they can burden you with everything, which means there is a degree of trust that is required,” explains Witt, who also advises clients on premarital agreements as well as estate and tax issues raised by divorce or separation. “I’m charged with all the human drama of a Charles Dickens novel. I’m the lawyer who gets the middle of the night calls. Much of what I do is managing my client’s lives. It’s all about relationships.”
Of course, Witt says that the estate planning field in particular has changed immensely throughout the years, as people’s lifestyle and expectations have evolved at a rapid pace.
“People want to not only live a full life, but they also want to leave a legacy for future generations,” explains Witt, who also worked as a Vice President and Trust Counsel at BMO Harris Bank, where she addressed trust and estate litigation. “In addition, the definition of family is changing. Also, I now work with both young and old, and depending on one’s age, you must take a different approach. Each client is like a snowflake. Everyone is different in how they want to manage the relationship. Some people want to meet me, some people want to do everything over the phone, some want to email back and forth, and some people want to video conference. You just never know.”
And when she is away from the office, Witt devotes her time to not only her family, but also to another one of her passions— antiques. And whether at home, at the office, or at the local antiques store, she loves people.
“I love my work and I love what I do,” concludes the University of Michigan and Notre Dame graduate, who was recently named “10 Best Attorneys” in Illinois for estate planning. “There is no question that juggling everything both personally and professionally is a challenge. But I love people and I love this area. It’s so different from a big law firm in Chicago. Just a few days ago, one of my clients stopped by to drop something off and we end up chatting for two and a half hours. I love the vibe of this town. To be honest, I wish I hadn’t waited so long. This is a whole new chapter for me. I never expected to love it this much.”
The Law Offices of Melanie Witt are located at 127 E. Main Street in Barrington, 847-387-3946, wittlaw.net.