Three Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law alumni recently set out to share their expertise by publishing three very distinct books. From estate planning to family mediation to finding the perfect business structure, Quan Vuong (JD and LL.M. ’11), Amanda Singer (JD ’13) and Neetal Parekh (JD ’06) jumped head-first into the publishing world with their own unique educational resources.
Quan Vuong (JD and LL.M. ’11) | Little Lawyers on Estate Planning: Ellie Gets a Will and Trust
When Vuong began looking for a way to better explain to his clients the basics of wills and trusts after striking out on his own in estate planning, he turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: his time with his kids.
The problem was, he said, that many adults approach the topic of wills and trusts with the attitude that they should avoid asking questions that could seem “dumb” coming from college-educated people.
“As an attorney, when I met with clients, I found that they always had conflicting information,” he said. “They just never really knew who to trust and what information was actually correct. I would spend time going over the basics with them, but sometimes they’d be too embarrassed to ask questions.”
Little Lawyers on Estate Planning: Ellie Gets a Will and Trust
, the 15-page children’s book inspired by Vuong’s time reading to his kids and his desire to help his clients.
The book follows Ellie as she prepares for summer camp and must decide what should happen to her toys should she, inevitably, be abducted by aliens while she’s away. The story covers a basic explanation of wills — without ever using the word — along with the benefits of using trusts, and the roles of trustees.
The idea, Vuong said, was to provide clients with an icebreaker to give them a broad overview of the subject in an approachable way, opening them up to a more candid conversation. He connected the idea of better preparing his clients with a children’s book after his experience reading to his own children, who are 4 and 3 years old.
“I enjoy reading to them each night before bed, but I got a little tired of reading
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish
,” Vuong said. “I thought that there should be other books out there that kids would enjoy but are also substantive for the parents. That’s when I came across this idea, where parents can learn something while still spending quality time with their kids, and the kids will still enjoy the imagery and story.”
Vuong said the feedback from clients, who usually receive the book before their initial client meeting, has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People have said that they can’t believe there’s nothing like it out there already,” he said. “It’s such a simple idea, but it’s a product of love. It basically came from my time with my kids, so hopefully other parents enjoy it also. And to me, the more concepts you expose kids to the better, whether they absorb it or not.”
This summer, Vuong is finishing up his second book in the
series. This time, Ellie gets an LLC.
Amanda Singer (JD ’13) | Putting Kids First in Divorce: How to Reduce Conflict, Preserve Relationships & Protect Your Children During & After Divorce
Thanks to her impressive work in mediation and years-long role as co-owner of the San Diego Family Mediation Center, Singer and her business partner, Jennifer Segura, were tapped to provide their insight for the book
Putting Kids First in Divorce: How to Reduce Conflict, Preserve Relationships & Protect Your Children During & After Divorce.
The book is compiled of interviews with 10 divorce specialists aimed at putting children’s need first. Singer and her business partner provide a range of family mediation services through their San Diego Family Mediation Clinic, where they assist families in having the difficult conversations that come with divorce.
“We’ve done some things that we think could really help people,” Singer said. “People often don’t know mediation is an option, so we really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get the word out and share our knowledge.”
Singer and Segura contributed a chapter that addresses best practices for making children a priority in blended families, or families that include children from previous marriages. They used conflict resolution techniques to resolve issues and improve communication. Singer said she drew on her years of experience in practice and presented real-life examples from past clients. The choice to focus on blended family mediation came after they looked at their most common requests from clients.
Singer began in mediation while simultaneously pursuing her JD at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law and a Masters of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University. While at the law school, she participated in the Mediation Clinic and helped found the Juvenile Mediation Clinic. Although attorneys typically find mediation a tough industry to break into as a starting point in their career, Singer’s use of Fowler School of Law’s clinics and her networking helped her ease into the highly-competitive field.
Neetal Parekh (JD ’06) | 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship
51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship
, stemmed from her years as a legal blogger and a digital strategy and communications consultant for several Silicon Valley start-up companies, where she tied her legal expertise and creative strengths to help companies and entrepreneurs navigate the legal world.
The book presents various business concepts through the lens of three fictional characters taking part in a social entrepreneurship conference called the Impactathon. The characters ultimately make their way through 51 questions that business owners commonly find themselves faced with – including how to best structure their businesses legally and what rules apply to social impact startups – as they work to develop a pitch for a social impact campaign.
“We often think law is one of the last things to change, but so much has changed when it comes to founding and structuring a business,” Parekh said. “There are so many factors that can bog entrepreneurs down. Delivering that information in an easy way can make it more actionable for the average person.”
Shortly after graduating from law school, Parekh moved to the Bay Area to join the start-up industry, and work with businesses focused on making a social impact. She wrote for FindLaw.com, providing educational articles, and quickly developed her own website and blog to reach a new market of leaders: social entrepreneurs. While writing her blog, she also founded her own consulting firm, Innov8social.
The blog became her own collection of business and legal resources for social entrepreneurs and eventually developed into a podcast and book,
“When I started blogging, people were just looking for easier ways to find information,” she said. “This book was a way to take what I’ve been doing, and further engage in the social impact area to really get this knowledge into the hands of people who could really be proactive.”
Although she spent the summers clerking during law school and dipped her toes in the legal world, she knew wouldn’t take a traditional route with her JD.
“By the time I was a 2L, I knew my path would be unconventional,” she said. “Adding the business side of things added a little more depth for me and allowed me to find new ways to make an impact.”