Visitors to the San Tan Village in Gilbert can now find dining options, plentiful shopping – and legal counsel, courtesy of Mesa attorney Billie Tarascio.
Opened early this month, her walk-in Modern Law Express office is the most recent iteration of Tarascio’s lifelong goal to ensure legal advice is attainable and affordable.
The Modern Law Express location and is designed as a bridge between self-representation and traditional legal representation.
The services provided by the San Tan location are family law matters such as divorce and custody, estate planning and guidance in Arizona’s new marijuana conviction expungement program.
A graduate of the University of Oregon and its law school, Tarascio has utilized her 16 years of legal experience to create innovative options for those undergoing costly and complex legal battles.
“If people don’t have access to information, guidance and strategy, it can be devastating for them and their families,” she said. “They can lose their kids, they can really hurt themselves in court or they can end up with a divorce decree or judgment that costs them tens of thousands of dollars that could have been avoided.
“So having some options that are not just the traditional model is really important.”
Her own experience has influenced her approach to law.
“I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer, but very early on in college, my parents went through a divorce that was pretty unexpected and pretty traumatic and not really well done,” she recalled. “It was so disruptive to not only their lives but also to mine and my brother’s, that I decided I wanted to become a family law attorney and work with families going through similar issues.”
Her in-store team of family law and legal advocates help customers determine the services needed and their cost, then connect them with the right lawyers or certified legal document preparers.
To save clients what can become thousands of dollars in retainer fees, Tarascio often directs customers to online resources.
These can range from Modern Law’s sister company, I Do Over, a legal document preparation service, to free online classes or legal coaching.
The San Tan Village Modern Law pop-up also helps people clear marijuana convictions in Arizona courts from their records following the recent passage of Proposition 207, which legalized recreational marijuana.
According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, under the Smart and Safe Act, individuals may petition the court to have a marijuana-related arrest, charge, adjudication, conviction or sentence expunged if a case meets necessary qualifications.
A charge can be expunged if the case involved possession of paraphernalia used to consume marijuana or less than 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana. Expungement also is possible if an individual was convicted of cultivating less than six plants at a primary residence for personal use.
As the option for expungement just became available in July, Tarascio said her legal team had yet to see the process to completion.
“Arizona doesn’t have expungements for any type of criminal matters, they have set asides,” Tarascio clarified, “An expungement literally wipes it off your record so you can have all your civil rights restored.”
These rights include the ability to obtain loans funded by the government, hold public office, serve on a jury, and the right to vote among many others.
Tarascio explained that at the San Tan Village location, “You can get your expungement done for $199 and you can get an uncontested divorce for $999, so it really is quite a bit less expensive than what you would pay going through a traditional attorney.”
Equipped with 25 legal professionals committed to increasing access to justice and original ideas for saving clients money, time and energy, Tarascio said the Modern Law Express location could change the lives of countless East Valley residents.
“Typically with law firms, you have to go out searching for them, but with this, you’re shopping and along with getting a shirt at Macy’s, you can also get the power of attorney,” Tarascio said.