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Estate Planning is ‘essential’ in California Reveals CWSL Alum

Irina Sherbak

“San Diego County only has three judges who hear probate cases and those can take years to resolve.”

Irina Sherbak ’12 shares that sobering statistic as a quiet reminder of the importance of proper estate planning.

Sherbak, who recently was selected to receive the Rising Star Award for 2019 by Super Lawyers magazine, immigrated to the United States from Ukraine when she was eight.

The process was very hard on her and her family.

“I knew that after everything my family sacrificed for me, I wanted to become an attorney, but as a first-generation immigrant, I did not have anyone in my family or friends who knew anything about the college application process, let alone graduate school,” says Sherbak.

Forced to figure it out on her own, Sherbak says that California Western came through for her big time when it came to applying for law school.

“They walked me through the entire process as a family friend would,” she reveals. “The Admissions team was so easy to speak with, and I felt welcomed and understood. They made it so simple”

Not surprisingly, Sherbak entered law school with the intention of becoming an immigration attorney. However, by her second year she knew she wanted to chart a different course.

“In the summer after my first year, I took a Trusts & Estates class and absolutely fell in love with the topic,” Sherbak reveals. “I understood it, and it was fascinating to me. Many of my classmates found it extremely boring, but it really spoke to me.”

In the fall semester, according to Sherbak, a great professor in her Trusts & Estates class and career services were essential in helping her secure an externship with a solo practitioner in estate planning, cementing her affinity for the discipline even more.

Today, the Law Offices of Irina Sherbak is a successful San Diego law practice specializing in estate planning in California.         

Despite estate planning not being front of mind for most people, Sherbak presents a compelling case as to why it should, calling it essential, especially in the state of California.

“It takes only $150,000 in assets (without beneficiary designations) to kick a person’s estate over into the probate court system, which in San Diego County is a very lengthy, costly, and cumbersome process,” she says.

“Having one’s affairs in order through the estate planning process helps an individual plan for their family’s well-being after their death or during their incapacity,” Sherbak continues. “Better that, than having the court step in and make those decisions for you.”

Sherbak, however, has never forgotten what California Western enabled her to achieve and within her busy schedule finds time to be President of the Alumni Association Board engaging in community outreach, providing support for alumni, and building a bridge from current students to the alumni community.

Without the support of California Western’s faculty and staff, Irina Sherbak’s dreams of practicing law or obtaining a law degree would never have been realized.

“The support I received as a prospective student, student, and alumna from the California Western staff, professors, and the community of attorneys is immeasurable,” says Sherbak.

Whatever your chosen career path, a law degree from California Western provides you with the framework to follow your passion. You get to decide what kind of lawyer you’ll be. We get to help.