Colleen Gibbons has joined the firm in the Trusts and Estates Practice Area after participating in the Bousquet Holstein Law Student Associate Program in 2016. Colleen is a Syracuse native and Tipperary Hill homeowner who enjoys connecting with her fellow Central New Yorkers. Colleen’s approach is to understand her clients’ goals and to best determine what they need before offering legal counsel.
The connecting thread throughout Colleen’s life has been a passion for assisting people in need. As a Trusts and Estates Attorney, Colleen recognizes the individual needs of each client and helps guide them through sometimes difficult conversations about end-of-life planning and providing care to family members with disabilities. Her years teaching and researching lifespan development help Colleen hone in on understanding the complex psychology of aging and decision-making throughout the lifespan, and she enjoys talking through these processes with her clients, considering individual and family goals.
Colleen’s focus on understanding and including family members with disabilities in the estate planning process is something that sets her apart from her peers. Supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship is an option that Colleen provides to all her estate planning clients, as she discusses best practices and ways in which families can put plans in place to support disabled family members throughout various life stages.
Colleen’s interest and commitment to community engagement drives her work with not-for-profit entities. Colleen assists clients in the formation, merger, and dissolution of not-for-profit corporations. She also provides advice regarding tax exemption, drafting and amending governing documents, and lobbying compliance.
Colleen is a 2017 cum laude alumna of the Syracuse University College of Law, where she completed curricular programs in disability law and policy and estate planning. As a law student, Colleen represented clients in both the Disability Law Clinic and the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics. She served as a research assistant to Professor Mary Helen McNeal and assisted with the editing process for the article “Say What? The Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Hearing Aids” published in the Harvard Journal on Legislation.
In her time before law school, Colleen worked at Syracuse University’s Falk College as the Project Manager for a National Institutes of Health grant, focusing on expanding access to research experiences and resources for people with disabilities. Colleen completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Human and Community Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where her dissertation focused on the role of family and community in the extracurricular activities of teenagers with disabilities. Colleen completed her bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Education at Buffalo State College, after which she spent five years teaching elementary school in Oneida, NY.
Colleen believes in connecting with community members outside the office, and is actively involved in various civic and charitable organizations. One of her favorite activities is volunteering with the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, where she has represented tenants in eviction court, assisted in transgender name change petitions, and provided legal assistance and advice in the family court and surrogate’s court legal clinics. Colleen is a lifelong animal advocate and enjoys spending her free time with her dogs Seamus and Jon Snow.