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Anne O’Brien’s trusts and estates practice means much more than helping her clients prepare for the end of their lives. “It doesn’t feel like the bulk of what I do is just planning for someone’s death,” says the Arnold & Porter D.C. partner. O’Brien prefers to think about her practice more positively, as a way to allow people to reach their personal goals in planning their wealth. According to her peers, O’Brien is one of the best in assisting clients to pursue their “personal goals.” O’Brien, 59, advises corporate executives on their estate plans and also assists her highly paid clients in negotiating their compensation packages. “She has a seasoned, common-sense perspective on how to arrange financial and business affairs to match up with all of the detailed personal human aspects,” says client A.G. “Terry” Newmyer III, a consultant and investor in Washington. Newmyer, an Arnold & Porter client on other matters, says he found O’Brien through friends’ recommendations. But one of O’Brien’s favorite tasks is working with families in their “charitable pursuits.” She assists in the formation of family foundations and helps the foundations comply with the technical tax rules. Family Foundations are “a continuous way for families to maintain family involvement in charitable giving and to create a family legacy,” O’Brien says. O’Brien also pursues her charitable interests as a founding board member of the National Center of Family Philanthropy. The organization is a resource for families who are trying to decide how to map out their charitable giving. Before entering law school, O’Brien earned a master’s degree in business administration at George Washington University. Afterward, she took time off from work to stay home with her children. Soon after, she decided to go to law school. “There was something about the business world that did not quite capture my passion,” O’Brien says. Instead, she says she was drawn to the intellectual, conceptual way that lawyers think. She was able to combine the financial background from the MBA with her legal experience, which led to her practice. “It really was just a good fit,” she says. After graduating from American University Washington College of Law in 1988, she joined Dickstein Shapiro & Morin for a short while, where she officially began her trusts and estates practice. She then moved on to a small tax boutique, Silverstein and Mullens, for six years, where she met her mentor, Jerry McCoy, a fellow leading lawyer. In 1995, O’Brien was lured away to Arnold & Porter. O’Brien is attracted to her practice by “the intellectual challenges of the tax law,” she says. “I found the prospect of working closely with individuals . . . to be very rewarding.”

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