I am member at BrownWinick and am the Estate Planning and Fiduciary Litigation Practice Group Co-Chair. I was raised in small-town Iowa and am proud to call Iowa home. My education, training, and experiences, however, have taken me all over the United States and the world. Some of the experiences that influence the way I see the world and practice law include: being involved in a (non-legal) family business since childhood; owning cattle that grazed on my grandparents' farm through law school; and deploying overseas multiple times as a Judge Advocate in the United States Army. My unique and varied background allows me to attack legal problems from a distinct, sophisticated and yet practical perspective.
Since I was involved in business and agriculture long before I became an attorney, I try to think like a businessman practicing law and not the other way around. This outlook necessarily leads to creating plans and implementing strategies that are workable for clients. I have seen estate plans fail because the plans were too complex for the clients to implement. Complexity for complexity's sake does not drive value and I strive to implement strategies that my clients understand. On the other hand, a multi-million dollar business operation seems to warrant more than a one page will. Simplicity that leaves out important detail is a disservice to the client and clarity of intent is a driving feature of my planning efforts. Creating and implementing estate plans or similar strategies with the right level of complexity and flexibility is my primary mission. Similarly, I try to understand my client's goals and current situation then draw a straight line to their desired “end state” in the best way possible.
The vast majority of my professional time is spent designing, implementing, or litigating estate planning documents. As such, I am much less of a generalist and focused on the legal topics where I believe I can add value with my education, training and experience. I have smart colleagues at BrownWinick who can assist with legal needs outside my core competencies.
More About Me
I played football at Central College and left Pella in 2003 with a B.A. in Business Management, summa cum laude; the Wall Street Journal Award for being the top business student in the Class of 2003, and the Borgman Award for academic performance as a senior on the football team. After working as a third-party liability insurance adjuster for a number of self-insured trucking firms in Dubuque, Iowa, I returned to school and graduated with honors from Drake University Law School. While I was at Drake, I was a member of Drake Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. After being admitted to the Iowa Bar, I accepted a commission as a Judge Advocate with the United States Army. Eventually, I deployed to Baghdad, Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom; Port-Au-Prince, Haiti following the 2010 earthquake as part of Operation Unified Response and to southern Afghanistan as a Brigade Judge Advocate in Operation Enduring Freedom. My time in the Army provided a broad background in the practice of law and once-in-a-lifetime responsibility. Since I knew estate planning was in my future, I returned for another year of schooling following my separation from the Army that was focused on taxation and estate planning. I graduated with distinction from the Georgetown University Law Center with a LLM in 2012.
I have been recognized by Chambers USA® in the High Net Worth Guide in the area of Private Wealth Law, selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers® in the area of Trusts and Estates, and listed as a “Rising Star” in Super Lawyers® in the area of Estate and Probate.
I am active in a number of civic and professional organizations and try to use my training, experience and knowledge to add value to those respective organizations. I am also a frequent speaker on trust, estate planning and business succession-related topics. On a personal note, I am married to another lawyer and my wife and I have one son and one daughter.
- Drafting and Implementing Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney
- Probate and Trust Administration
- Fiduciary Litigation
- Nonprofits and Planned Giving
Mary Frein - 515-248-6629
Kelley Vierling - 515-558-8870
B.A., summa cum laude, 2003
Georgetown University Law Center
LLM, with distinction, Taxation; awarded Certificate in Estate Planning, 2012
Drake University Law School
J.D., with high honors, 2007
Memberships & Associations
- Polk County Bar Association
- Iowa State Bar Association
Member; Sections on: Probate, Trust & Estate Planning; Taxation; Military Affairs Committee
- Heart of America Fellows Institute
- Iowa Trust Association
- Mid-Iowa Planned Giving Council