(June 25, 2007, Chicago) – LAWFUEL – American Legal Newswire – Reed Smith LLP, one of the world’s 15 largest law firms, has announced the addition of Mary C. Downie as a partner and Judith Rea Heck as of counsel on the Wealth Planning Team within its Tax, Wealth Planning and Benefits Group. Both will be resident in firm’s Chicago office, effective immediately
Ms. Downie was formerly a partner in the Private Client Practice at Jenner & Block, Chicago. Ms. Heck rejoins her former colleagues at Sachnoff & Weaver, which merged with Reed Smith on March 1. She had been a member of the firm from 1990 to 1999, prior to becoming a Senior Attorney for The Northern Trust Company of Chicago, from which she re-joins the firm.
“Both Mary and Judith have excellent reputations in the Chicago wealth and estate planning community,” said David Fuechtman, Reed Smith’s co-chair of the Wealth Planning Group of the Tax, Wealth Planning and Benefits Practice. “Mary’s experience as a litigator is particularly important to us because this is the largest growth area within the wealth planning field. We expect her to contribute immediately to several key client relationships. And Judi’s decade of experience serving in an institutional trust environment backed by her familiarity with how this firm operates will also be invaluable.”
Ms. Downie’s practice is focused on sophisticated estate and tax planning, complex estate and trust administration, advising owners of closely held businesses, tax controversy matters, and estate and trust litigation. She counsels clients on estate planning, business formation, business succession, and trust and estate administration issues and drafts complex estate plans that include wills, revocable trusts, dynasty trusts, irrevocable insurance trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, charitable remainder trusts, family limited partnerships, limited liability companies and powers of attorney for health care and property. She also advises clients on retirement planning and funding mechanisms for college savings.
Ms. Downie’s experience extends to counseling clients with international estate planning issues involving ownership of property in foreign countries, dual citizenship or resident alien status.
“Reed Smith provides an exceptional national and international platform upon which to develop a strong and comprehensive wealth planning practice,” said Ms. Downie. “I welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with other members of this well-established practice with whom I am already familiar and for whom I have the greatest respect.”
Ms. Heck’s recent experience spans reviewing fiduciary appointments for the trust offices in the 17 states served by the Northern Trust Company and extends to advising trust departments nationwide, including wealth management groups in Chicago and Delaware on trust, investment and risk management issues and sophisticated estate planning techniques. She was active in the revision of will and trust form books, as well as in monitoring trust construction and reformation proceedings, participation in internal compliance meetings, and the provision of advice on new business presentations.
“I am looking forward to returning to the firm after a very productive period in a trust company leadership role and using my experience there to benefit the firm’s clients,” said Ms. Heck. “The firm I left has grown and changed in my absence but it’s clear that the best features have just been enhanced and that it continues to be a top-notch wealth planning team.”
A 1995 graduate of John Marshall Law School, Ms. Downie (formerly, Mary C. Talarico) frequently publishes and lectures on estate planning matters, estate administration, contested estate matters and ownership succession issues. She co-authored the chapter on “Claims Against The Estate” in the Illinois Estate Administration handbook of the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education in 2003, as well as the recent chapter update in 2006.
Ms. Downie is a member of the American Bar Association and its Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section; the Illinois State Bar Association’s Trusts & Estates Section; and the Chicago Bar Association’s Federal Taxation Committee and Trust Law Committee. She is the former chair and a current member of the Estate and Gift Tax Division of the Federal Taxation Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, and has just been appointed to the Trusts & Estates Section Council of the Illinois Bar Association. She is also a member of the Chicago Estate Planning Council and was on the Planning Committee for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s 49th Annual Estate Planning Short Course, the preeminent estate planning course for attorneys in Illinois.
Ms. Heck is a 1976 graduate of Albany Law School, Union University, New York. She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, where she has formerly served as Chair of the Trust Law Division I and the Young Lawyers Division. She is also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, where she served as Chair of the Young Lawyers Section, Estate Planning Committee, and of the Illinois Institute for Continuing Education, for whom she co-authored the federal estate, gift and generation-skipping tax chapter of the 1989 Basic Estate Planning Book.
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is one of the 15 largest law firms in the world, with more than 1,500 lawyers in 21 offices throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Founded in 1877, the firm represents leading international businesses from Fortune 100 corporations to mid-market and emerging enterprises. Its attorneys provide litigation services in multi-jurisdictional matters and other high stake disputes, deliver regulatory counsel, and execute the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions. Reed Smith is a preeminent advisor to industries including financial services, life sciences, health care, advertising and media, shipping, international trade and commodities, real estate, manufacturing and education. For more information, visit reedsmith.com
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