"The word “opportunity” comes up often in conversations with Chris Buttress.
She talks about how important it was to her parents she had an opportunity to get more of an education than they did. Both sets of her grandparents came to America from Lebanon. Her parents were the first in their families to be born in this country. Both were their respective high school valedictorians. But that’s as far as they could go.
They wanted more for their daughter.
Their prompting took hold. Growing up in small-town Cambridge, Ohio, Chris didn’t have to be told to take school seriously. She was in grade school when she decided she would be an attorney. Her exposure to the law at the time was limited to Raymond Burr’s portrayals of Perry Mason, although she didn’t imagine herself being involved in any facet of criminal law. She was drawn more by a sense that, as a lawyer, she would be in a position to help people solve problems and find order in their lives.
She was 15 when her father died. He had been ailing, but it hadn’t occurred to her he might die. A few days before a procedure he would not survive, he called her aside:
“Suddenly, I’m hearing him say, ‘I may or may not be here after the surgery.’ He was telling me how important it was to him that I really try to get along with my mother and be supportive – she and I are so much alike, we frequently clashed.
I came out of that conversation with a lot to think about. That conversation made me grow up. It also made me appreciate the time I’d had with my father to that point and how important he was to me. I realized that if I didn’t go forward and do the best I could, be the best person I could be, I would have been failing my father.
“That conversation is the most defining moment of my life. I came away from it with an awareness that every disappointment can be an opportunity to do something positive.”
That exchange would factor into Chris’ eventual decision to focus her career on estate planning and estate administration – in plain terms, helping people put their affairs in order. She suggests it was a factor in her decision, too, to accept an invitation to become a member of the board of directors of Starshine, the hospice for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
She has come to see an awareness of death and dying – and the conviction, it’s something we’re all obliged to prepare for – as a thread that runs through her life and gives her purpose.
“My goal is to make the transition a smoother one for my clients – and to find ways to facilitate philanthropy and make their dollars work harder,” she says.
“The question I continually seek to answer is, how do you take something that is inevitable and use it as an opportunity to find positive outcomes?"
Chris has practiced law in the personal planning area in Greater Cincinnati for over 30 years. She practices in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, prenuptial agreements and strategic philanthropy. She facilitates her clients’ generosity by counseling them in the management and disposition of property during lifetime, at death and after death, as well as in the related tax and personal considerations. Chris describes her approach to estate planning as holistic. It is not just about things and numbers; it is about the people and their relationships with one another.
Chris is a frequent lecturer and has published a variety of articles on a wide range of subjects in the area of estate planning and meets regularly with informal groups of estate planning attorneys to network and stay on top of trends and issues facing estate planners. She has been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for her work in Trusts and Estates law from 2003-2017. Based on the grading and comments of her peers, Chris is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell. From 2004-2019, she has been chosen by her peers as an Ohio Super Lawyer. Chris is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Beginning in 2003, the Ohio State Bar Association certified Chris as a specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law.
Chris is a Co-Chair of the Firm’s Women's Professional Development Group.
Since she deals with very personal client issues, Chris’s work philosophy is to emphasize the importance of good rapport and communication with her clients so that she fully understands what is most important to her clients. She is passionate about her family and credits her daughter, Maria, with reminding her to laugh and to remember what is really important. A little known fact about Chris: she was part of a women’s intramural football team in law school.