COVER STORY: Johnson Named Partner at Takacs McGinnis
It’s official! Chris Johnson is now one of the partners at Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law.
If you’re a client or friend of the firm, you probably saw it coming. Chris came to Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law with 19 years of legal and military experience, plus a stint working as an elder law attorney after leaving the military. Since joining Takacs McGinnis, Chris has been providing legal expertise on a wide range of client issues with a focus on estate planning, VA benefits, and Life Care Planning.
A Look Back
The addition of Chris Johnson as Takacs McGinnis’ third partner is just the latest step in the evolution of an elder care law practice that has been an industry leader for nearly three decades. The firm known today as Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law was launched as Family Law Practice of Timothy L. Takacs on September 1, 1992 in rented office space at 130 Walton Ferry Road. “I realized early on that general practice work was not the future of law,” Tim remembers, adding that after attending a National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys program in 1993, he made the decision to focus his practice on elder law.
In 1995, after relocating the firm to its current location at 201 Walton Ferry Road, Tim’s interest in elder law was further fueled by a chance encounter with a client whose wife had just been admitted to a nursing home. Though Tim wasn’t sure how to help this man, he promised to find out. Before long, Tim was experimenting with enhancements to the traditional asset-focused practice of elder law in order to better meet the needs of his growing list of clients. “They needed more than just legal documents and help applying for public benefits,” he recalls. “They needed support meeting the older adult’s care needs. No one else was offering this.”
To meet those needs, Tim broke with elder law tradition and hired his first care coordinator in 1998. Later that year, Tim renamed the firm Elder Law Practice of Timothy L. Takacs and stopped accepting non-elder law cases. By the early 2000’s, Tim had documented his new approach to elder law, called Life Care Planning, and began teaching other attorneys how to implement the practice model in their own firms. This marked the beginning of the elder care law movement.
In 2011, Barbara Boone McGinnis, a geriatric nurse practitioner with experience as an executive in long-term care facilities, joined the firm as an associate attorney. “Once Barbara had been with me for about a year, I could see that she brought business skills that complemented mine,” remembers Tim. “I knew that she would eventually be a partner.” In January 2016, Barbara’s partnership was announced, and a year later, the firm rebranded as Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law.
As their caseload continued to grow, Tim and Barbara set their sights on adding a third attorney. Eventually, they discovered Chris Johnson, who had been working as an elder law attorney for another firm in Sumner County. “We had our eye on him for a long time,” Barbara notes.
Chris’ skill set was the perfect fit for the firm. Licensed in 2006, he had completed a long and successful career as an attorney in the military before moving to the Nashville area. Like Barbara, elder law was a second career for Chris. “Life experience makes all the difference,” Chris says. “You handle just about everything better when you're 40 than you do when you’re 20. You have a lot more perspective and you tend not to overreact, which lends itself well to working with older adults and their families.”
Does the addition of a third partner signal that Tim is considering retirement? “Not at all,” says Tim. “There’s a lot more work to be done. In fact, our ages are a plus. “Barbara is eleven years younger than I am, and Chris is eleven years younger than Barbara,” Tim notes. “There is something to be said about these eleven-year intervals. It means that clients can be confident that we’ll be around for a long time. We’ve designed the firm for sustainability.”
Ready for the Future
Tim, Barbara, and Chris are committed to maintaining Takacs McGinnis’ position as the most innovative elder care law firm in the nation. “The culture of the firm is based on meeting the legal, financial, and personal care needs of older adults,” says Chris. “Those needs are universal and won’t ever go away, but the way we meet those needs will continue to evolve.”
Several enhancements to the firm’s service offering are already in the works, including the addition of more robust financial support for clients (Public Benefits Specialist Joshua Bey is working towards his Certified Financial Planner designation) and the launch of a service line for older adults aging without the benefit of a built-in family support system. A physical relocation is also on the horizon. The firm’s spacious new office building on Saundersville Road should be complete by the end of 2020.
Since the beginning, the team at Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law has worked to make life better for the many clients who have sought their aid. The firm’s innovations have comforted many families, inspired hundreds of attorneys nationwide, and transformed the practice of elder law in the United States. Today, under the guidance of partners Tim Takacs, Barbara McGinnis, and Chris Johnson, Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law and their multi-disciplinary staff will be setting the standard for innovation and excellence in the elder care law field for decades to come.