About Cookman Law

At Cookman Law, we are passionate about helping families with complex situations plan for the future.  We believe that each family has unique needs, and their estate plan should be customized to meet those needs.  Ellen Cookman started the firm in 2015, to provide broad estate planning services in the California Bay Area with a subfocus in special needs planning.  Many families need “parenting when you’re gone,” and we help them put together a team of professionals and family members to provide additional financial and care management and support.  We also offer trust administration and probate administration services upon a loved one’s death, and limited conservatorships for developmentally disabled individuals in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

At Cookman Law, a typical estate plan takes about 2 months from start to finish.  We generally charge a flat fee for all practice areas.  We’ve found that our clients prefer the certainty of knowing up-front what they’ll be paying, and this also encourages clients to contact us with questions without worrying about being “on the clock.”

Ellen Cookman, Owner/Principal Attorney

Ellen Cookman started Cookman Law in 2015 to help families of all shapes and sizes plan for the future and utilize available resources. Ellen is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law from the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. She received her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law and her LL.M. in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate from Golden Gate University. Ellen lives in East Palo Alto with her husband, two cute and very active boys (her older son has high-functioning autism), a boxer-pit bull mix named Ulysses and a kitty named Skittles.

Read more about Ellen’s background, education and awards.

Marlyn Schulz, Provisional Attorney

Marlyn has a passion for helping people in need and she looks at Estate Planning as though it is the next big social justice issue.  Her office in Texas focuses on helping low & middle income clients with their estate planning needs.  She is also working towards her provisional license in California.   Marlyn’s next three goals are obtaining her law license in California, building up her for-profit practice in Texas and starting a Texas 501(c)3 with the intent to provide low and no cost estate planning to middle and low-income Texas families.

Ariel Smolinski, Paralegal

Ariel knew from a young age that she wanted to make a difference in the world, specifically by working in the legal field. She received an MBA and political science degree from Chatham University (Pittsburgh, PA) and later received her paralegal certificate from DeAnza College (Santa Clara, CA). Ariel is passionate about running, gluten free cupcakes, and her Peloton. When she isn’t working she enjoys spending time with daughter, husband, and Shiba Inu doggy, Gaius.

Kim Tyser, Paralegal

Kim has more than 10 years’ experience working as a paralegal in various areas of law, but estate planning is her favorite.  As an animal advocate, Kim was also the director of a no-kill animal shelter in Illinois and has been involved with many animal rescues and adoptions.  It makes her very happy when people consider their animal companions when talking about their estate plan.  When away from work, Kim likes spending time in a coffee shop writing, playing tennis, riding her bike or sitting outside with her dog, Oscar, reading a good book.

Megan Orsini, Legal Assistant

Megan comes to Cookman Law with nearly fifteen years of experience as a legal assistant, including ten years in Trusts and Estates. She is currently completing Yoga Teacher Training with a focus in Trauma and Social Justice, and is working on a certification in Yoga for Sexual Abuse Survivors. Megan spends her spare time reading, writing, and dreaming of living by the sea.

Wendi Bravman, Client Coordinator

Wendi  is the Client Coordinator here at Cookman Law and has over 10 years of experience in Client Intake and Legal Administrative role.  In addition to Estate Planning, Wendi has experience in Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Business Law where she has worked with both corporate and smaller law firms. Wendi specializes in ensuring a WONDERFUL experience here at our firm and is the first point of contact for our clients and those seeking Estate Planning guidance. In her free time, Wendi loves working with animals, studying History, working out, and being in nature.

Huong Pineda, Marketing Coordinator

Huong is passionate about collaborating with people to find solutions. She graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science and 9 years of extensive experience in project coordinating, marketing, and system management in Environmental Consulting Engineering and Sustainability. Using her diverse background and knowledge, Huong channels her experiences to support our firm with our marketing needs as well as maximizing the functionality of all the systems that we use. Outside of her work life, Huong enjoys going on spontaneous adventures with her family, cooking, painting, and collecting house plants.