Ellen Hendrick's life and career path are anything but traditional. Her childhood, family life, education, medical career, competitive endeavors, and broad legal experience have helped mold her into the insightful, compassionate and successful Spokane attorney she is today.
Specializing in family law did not come by chance, but rather was shaped by life experiences, helping her to better understand and serve her clients' needs, and to fiercely defend and represent their best interests.
A mother, grandmother, professional and community activist, Ellen lives in Spokane with her husband Allan, a management consultant and a retired and United States Air Force Pilot. She attended the University of Washington School of Law, and served the King County Prosecutor's office as an extern for the federal trial team and thereafter as an intern at the district court level.
Ellen was born the fourth of six children in a small, impoverished town in northern Maine. Life was difficult from the outset. Ellen's father left the family while she was still very young, and despite enduring heartache and struggle, her mother kept the family together through hard work and self-sacrifice. Sadly, poverty and lack of employment opportunities forced Ellen's mother to turn to the welfare system to ensure the family's survival. As a result, young Ellen came to learn that education and hard work were the keys to overcoming the limitations of her past and would help provide a better quality of life in the future.
When Ellen was 11, her mother married for the second time, and the family relocated to Illinois. This event had a severe and devastating impact on Ellen and her brothers and sisters. Mother no longer wanted the responsibility of caring for all six of her children: she left Ellen's two oldest siblings behind. The younger four were prohibited from having contact with their older brother and sister and their bonds were permanently severed.
Soon thereafter, the four younger children were forced to endure the physically and emotionally abusive tendencies of their new stepfather on an almost daily basis. Instead of protecting her children from harm, Ellen's mother sided with her stepfather. These experiences profoundly impacted Ellen and kindled in her a desire to advocate for the safety and well being of children exposed to similar patterns of abuse.
Despite that toxic and debilitating environment, Ellen excelled in school. When teachers and school officials learned of the circumstances at home, they provided her with much-needed love and support, helping her gain confidence in her abilities to succeed in school and in life.
Ellen graduated high school with honors and soon entered college. She earned her bachelor's degree in science and nursing with honors from the University of Texas Health Science Center. She has been a registered nurse ever since, with experience at a level one trauma center in San Antonio, Texas, and as a flight nurse -- flying with a team of medical and rescue professionals into remote areas to retrieve and stabilize patients and transfer them to medical centers. Ellen looks back at her nursing career as an experience that has taught her to effectively prioritize courses of action, to make critical decisions under pressure, and to practice compassion.
A fierce competitor with varied interests, Ellen activities have included playing on the national champion softball team, a competitive Latin dancer, a competitive body-builder, and a world traveler.
But, understanding the importance of giving back to one's community, Ellen experienced something profound during her time as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate (CASA), looking out for the best interests of children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect - an experience that hearkened back to the difficult family life she endured as a young girl.
Ellen and her husband Allan moved to Seattle in 1999 where she attended the University of Washington School of Law. While at the UW, Ellen participated in the Child Advocacy Clinic, worked for the King County Prosecutor's office as an extern for the federal trial team, and then as an intern at the district court level.
As if that weren't enough, while still in school, Ellen trained to become a certified basic mediator and a certified marriage and family law mediator. As a mediator at the Snohomish and Island County Dispute Resolution Center, Ellen mediated numerous family law, landlord/tenant, contract and small claims disputes. She graduated in 2002, relocating with Allan to Spokane shortly thereafter, and was promptly offered positions at two of Spokane 's most prestigious law firms. Ellen, however, had a different idea and chose to commence her legal career as a solo practitioner.
Ellen now has her own thriving divorce and family law practice. A large portion of her practice involves mediation of family law related disputes and other non-family law issues. She believes that when parties are empowered through mediation to create their own agreements based upon their own unique needs and circumstances, the best interests of all involved are much better served.
That said, Ellen understands that not all parties or circumstances are amenable to mediation. When this is the case, her background as an accomplished and aggressive litigator will ensure her clients' best interests are protected.
Ellen continues to volunteer her legal services at the Volunteer Lawyer's Family Law Advice and Divorce clinics.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal advice, call or contact us today for a free consultation.