To satisfy clients' legal needs quickly, proficiently, flexibly, and economically by listening carefully, questioning thoughtfully, researching thoroughly, moving pro-actively, and seeking justice as a creative problem-solver, ever watchful for win-win strategies and solutions.
This commitment coupled with long hours of hard work is the foundation upon which this Elder law office has been and will continue to be built.
Flexibility: Preventative law is more effective, less stressful, and less costly than emergency approaches to legal problems. This Shavertown Estate Planning Attorney will focus on addressing problems proactively rather than reactively, while negotiating from a win-win perspective. However, Plan B, or resorting to the big stick in litigation, remains a viable option to deal with unexpected calamities and hard-ball tactics when win-win methodologies are rejected by the other side in problem solving attempts.
Teamwork: We work interdependently with our clients: keeping them informed of their options, assisting in problem solving, and facilitating satisfactory conclusions both in and out of court. We are committed to helping each client achieve justice and success whether it is in consummating a transaction, settling a dispute, or resolving uncertainties in business or personal life.
Understanding: Adversarial posturing can be gradually retired when each side works to understand and accommodate the legitimate needs of the other side. We seek to establish mutually beneficial relations with others in the legal community. This approach creates long-term value, minimizes distrust and opportunism, and improves quality of life for everyone. Experience shows that a broader and deeper understanding ultimately cools destructive energies, providing opportunities for personal growth while pursuing justice.
Improvement: Litigiousness, contentiousness, vengeance, anger, and blame are part of ordinary human experience. Defensiveness and active hostilities can dominate awareness in court, in lawyers' offices, and in communications with opposing parties. The best Elder Law Attorneys in Wilkes Barre work to disentangle the web of blame that binds people to ignorance and negativity, permitting insight and personal freedom to prevail.
Responsibility: Individuals play many roles that are defined, moment by moment. Personal decisions carry consequences. Justice is often about individuals acknowledging their own responsibility for those decisions with life as the teacher. Everyone is benefited from learning the lessons from decisions and adopted roles.
Whether you are looking for an attorney in Wilkes-Barre that specializes in Estate Planning, Estate Administration or other specialized elements call Bernard Walter for a complimentary consultation.
Before the clients arrive, Bernard Walter, the 53-year-old lawyer from California, parks his snow-white Lexus on a side street, enters the side door of a Shavertown church overlooking a lush green slope covered in tombstones and sits in a metal folding chair behind a wooden table in a room with padded walls.
Some Friday nights attendance is spotty. Other nights, it's downright overwhelming. Still, there are times when a dozen people come to the Roman Catholic church for answers, both heavenly and not so. And, Walter tries fishing for answers to the needs presented.
"Law is an expensive and often slow, frustrating approach to solving problems," says Walter, wearing his favorite tie, a dark suit, and a crisp white dress shirt. "There's a beginning, and there's an end. And there are steps in between. Practicing law is about the search for justice." It is here at the Free Back Mountain Medical and Legal Clinic that a team of doctors and lawyers meets in the basement of St. Therese's Church to offer services to the needy.
These people, rich and poor, come hoping for speedy solutions to legal and non-emergency medical problems. Dozens of residents and business owners have come to the weekly clinic since it opened in 1995. Dr. Fred Bloom and church officials started the medical clinic as a community outreach, and the legal portion was added in 1996. Walter and three local lawyers rotate Friday nights working at the law clinic.
"There are medical clinics around the area," says Erik Dingle, one of the volunteer lawyers. "There are no free legal clinics from what I know. It has turned into a service. It's nice that the legal clinic can give something back. It's a wonderful experience."
Creating the law clinic is just one example of how Walter - a quiet, thoughtful man - is giving back to the region. Asked about starting the clinic, Walter says: "You don't have to call an expensive downtown law office. Make an appointment. Dread what the fees are going to be. Sit in a waiting room. Pay for parking. And deal with that estrangement."
Giving and getting: Even though Walter and his wife, Roberta, fit the slim percentage of people who are statistically considered to be well-to-do, they aren't spending their time hiding behind that image. However, they hold an air of privacy and intrigue. And they are quick to say they aren't attention-seekers.
"I left family and home, office, clients, schools, theater, clubs, yachting, opera - a lot of things that are very dear to me because I love my wife. And Roberta is a fabulous person," Walter says. "Living here is a challenge and I have found wonderful people here." "It was just a choice about making my life as beautiful as possible," he says. His voice is a blend of melodic, Zen-filled undertones. He speaks in metaphors and other artful language.
During a normal week, Walter jets off to other offices in other cities. Sometimes he stays here. His current roster of clients includes dot-coms in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and Japanese trading companies in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Orlando, Fla.
The trips remind Walter of his other friends and adventures - those left behind on the West Coast and beyond. The life left behind helped create his beliefs about ethics and how law should be practiced. Walter finished law school by 1978 and was hired by the San Francisco District Attorney's office. There he had an eight-year tenure, prosecuting notorious porno kings and pimps. One of his cases involved the Mitchell brothers, whose porn empire was depicted in Showtime's "Rated X," starring Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez.
It was in California where he met his wife in 1989. Roberta Walter is a Wyoming Valley native who returned here from the West Coast for medical care. She has many years of experience in the local business community. She is the owner of Dallas Design that buys, renovates, and sells local properties. Decades ago, she and then-husband Robert Costello, owned Mr. B's, a chain of local clothing stores (in Dallas, Tunkhannock, Dickson City, and Edwardsville).
But Bernard Walter, who has a Shavertown office and others in Las Vegas and San Francisco, is a relative newcomer to the ways and traditions of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The couple moved to Dallas in 1994.
Nevertheless, the Walters have been quietly attempting through volunteering, charity, and businesses ventures to be cheerleaders for a region often looked down upon as being light years behind the rest of the world.
Not buying negative stereotype: Even though the Walters have faith that the area will improve, people who know them have faith that the Walters will make a difference in the region. "I think he's indicative of a lot of the volunteers and professional people we have in the area," says Vince Matteo, senior vice president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry.
Matteo, Walter, and several business leaders are working on the chamber's annual business ethics seminar. The program titled "E-thics in the New Economy" will feature a representative from the McDonald's Corp. and focus on how job training can successfully cross generations. It is scheduled for Tuesday.
"He has an engaging way about him," Matteo says. "He just seems like a nice guy."
But Walter and his wife have a real problem: They dislike the negative rap the region has garnered and how some people have given up on making life better here. What really gets them going is the Forbes magazine's May issue that ranked the region 196th of 200 regional economies. Roberta Walter calls the Forbes report "baloney".
Especially when the Wyoming Valley is full of life: There's a Barnes & Noble now. And the First Union Arena. And a T.J.Maxx. Olive Garden's coming. You can dine on gourmet sushi in downtown Wilkes-Barre. What could be wrong with living here? the Walters have wondered.
After all, the couple - who could live anywhere in the world - have chosen to stay and give up on California dreaming. "They meet you, they see what kind of car you drive. 'I've got this deal for you!' They were all over you," says Roberta Walter on a dreary morning in June. That's how she describes the shallowness of some Californians as she sits in an office she and Walter share on Memorial Highway in Shavertown.
The Walters are dressed for a day of business in the Back Mountain. Bernard: Versace tie and shirt, black ostrich shoes, and a gray Valentino suit. Roberta: A metallic silver jacket, flowered sheer scarf, honey blonde hair perfectly set. "It fits right into the Valley, just as it does into Beverly Hills,""Everyone in the morning makes a choice about what he or she is going to wear."
Walter planned to spend his afternoon at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre while his wife tended to Dallas Design. "What goes on in this Valley is a hidden secret," says Roberta Walter, holding a silver coffee mug. "I like how subtle it is here. I think it's just getting better. This area has everything to me."
An hour later, sitting in the wine cellar of his house on Lake Street in Dallas, Walter quotes businessman Malcolm Forbes: "People tend to undervalue what they don't want and overvalue what they want." Walter says: "Translated into action, that means the best place to start is where we are with what we've got."
And for a man whose story crisscrosses the country and with travels around the world, the Back Mountain quickly becomes a perfect stopping point.
Marques G. Harper, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 831-7324.