Helping families drives this attorney

Recorder Staff
Thursday, December 28, 2017

GREENFIELD — Attorney Lisa Kent, newly elected president of the Franklin County Bar Association, believes that law can help people find “new possibilities.”

“I help people reflect, make tough decisions and move one,” Kent said recently, sitting at an oak table in Esser Kent Family Law. Kent joined the Main Street practice in 2011, and became a partner with Attorney Diane Esser in 2015, focusing on divorce, custody, guardianship and elder law. To that end, she’s a certified divorce mediator and collaborative attorney.

“I’ve seen mothers relax and let fathers be better fathers. And, mostly, I see the joy on people’s faces when they remove stressors from their lives,” she continued.

The local bar association, which is made up of about 90 attorneys and 17 judges, helps lawyers achieve continuing education requirements, educates the public on law, and provides logistical resources for attorneys who own their own practices. As president, Kent will lead the association through the next year.

After going to law school at Rutgers University and passing the bar exam in 1992, Kent has practiced law in a variety of capacities, including as deputy counsel to the New Jersey Legislature and as legal counsel to a utility economics consulting firm. She moved to Amherst, where she currently lives, “in search of beauty and quality of life, like so many others.”

Other areas of law offered lucrative money, but Kent, who is married with two children, settled on family law to help people in need, she said.

“The feeling you get when you help someone find a resolution is beyond everything else,” Kent said, describing an instance when that philosophy took root.

Years ago, while working as a litigator at Lesser Newman Aleo and Nasser in Northampton, Kent won a case for a family whose son had died because of medical malpractice. The monetary reward the family received was substantial, but Kent didn’t find it personally rewarding.

“I gave the parents this big check,” Kent said. “And I’ll always remember the parents’ faces. It was ‘can you bring back our son?’”

On the other hand, Kent finds fulfillment helping those in need, such as a woman who has to escape an abusive relationship, an elder who wants to organize their estate at the end of life, or a parent navigating a murky custody dispute.

That desire to help others spills over into Kent’s personal life. While she doesn’t practice immigration law, Kent is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union’s local chapter, giving legal advice when she can, and helping undocumented immigrants who think they might be detained put official guardianship agreements into place.

In the coming year, while serving as president of the Franklin County Bar Association, Kent said she’s looking forward to “helping people resolve the things that are the most precious in their lives.”

You can reach Andy Castillo at: acastillo@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263 On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo