Jacobson & Ratzel

Firm Overview

In essence I have been a solo family practitioner in a small firm, until recently when we hired a new associate to round out our family law practice. The firm began as an insurance defense litigation boutique, but as it grew it became more well-rounded and developed into more of a general practice firm. Each lawyer has their own specialty, and may practice in more than one area of law. This allows us to serve a client's diverse needs.

The firm recently celebrated its 10th anniversary! We are located in Brookfield, Wisconsin, which is a suburb of Milwaukee, on Bluemound Road, and is easily accessible from all directions.

Example cases

I regularly handle cases involving substance abuse and/or mental illness, in which one spouse has a drinking problem or mental health problem that needs to be managed. I have above average education and experience in dealing with these issues and excellent management skills for handling that type of case.
I also regularly handle collaborative and/or cooperative cases for parties who do not have great disputes, but have trouble communicating and need legal assistance from someone who will not "pick a fight" or make matters worse. Oftentimes one party will retain me while the other will go unrepresented, but all three of us will sit down to work out the details of the divorce or other family law matter in a cordial manner to save on fees. Because I have above-average problem solving skills, I help couples get past their differences to move forward toward agreement, either in mediation or cooperative/collaborative divorce.

Main Office
13255 W Bluemound Rd. # 203
Brookfield  WI  53005-6245
  • (262) 780-0460
  • (262) 780-0468


Free Initial Consultation?
No; I offer a one-hour consultation for the flat fee of $200.
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
I offer a one-hour flat-fee consultation for $200. Anything beyond that is billed at my regular hourly rate.
Hourly Rates

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Late hours on Wednesdays only.
Office Manager
My legal assistant is Dena Corey. Our office manager is Amy Billingsley.
Emergency After Hours

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

It became clear to me after handling my first divorce case that I was meant to be a family lawyer. I have a strong emotional bond with the issues, the work, and the clients and their families. There is a necessary psychology that goes into family law, which is a strength of mine. Each client goes through a cycle of emotions in handling their family law matter - anger, sadness, grief, resentment, failure, guilt, worry, relief, resignation, and even hope. I greatly enjoy seeing my clients transform from the unhappy and difficult emotions to the more hopeful ones, since most do. I especially enjoy knowing that I have been able to assist them during their difficult transition period, making their transition easier, more positive, and less painful.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

I would always prefer a more educated client, as long as that education is coming from a reliable source (books, literature, videos, and other attorneys), and not the "helpful neighbor" or "protective relative." While neighbors and relatives mean well, they are not usually reliable sources of information, even if they have stories of their own to share about their own family court experiences. Each person's family law case is uniquely different, and therefore will have a unique outcome. There is no one-size-fits-all application of the law to any set of facts, so any information from friends and family should be regarded with great caution.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I am always happy to review client documents, as long as the client understands I cannot verify the information contained in the document without seeing source documents as well (i.e. I can't know if the 401k numbers are right without seeing the statement). Certainly I regularly help clients prepare their self-help forms without having to go to court on their behalf. Often I will prepare the forms for them, without being retained to go to court for them. I call this a "scrivener" service, and my retainer agreement is simply limited in scope to this service.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

I am able to offer limited consultations (up to 3) to clients who want to represent themselves in court. More than that leads to some uneasiness on my part, since the court believes the party to be unrepresented, and handles the case differently than had the client been represented by counsel. In my opinion, regular meetings with an attorney "behind the scenes" without disclosure to the court would be a misrepresentation to the court.

Karyn Gimbel Youso

I worked for a variety of small general practice litigation firms until I found my calling in family law. I have a diverse background in bankruptcy, insurance defense, personal injury, worker's compensation, subrogation, landlord/tenant, and contracts. Once I handled my first divorce case, I knew I was meant to help families going through that tough emotional process. I gradually built up my family law practice to the exclusion of everything else, and now practice only family law.

Certainly being a wife and mother allows me to understand the experiences of my family law clients who are struggling to make choices about their spouses and children. My own extended family has faced divorce, dysfunction, substance abuse, mental illness, and other challenges, giving me the first-hand experience and compassion needed to be non-judgmental as a person and insightful as an attorney when working with clients who have similar issues. I am also very mindful of the cost of handling cases with those issues.

I am very attuned to the emotional needs of my clients, and make myself regularly available by phone and email. I am fairly direct, some would say blunt, but that is done in an effort to keep client's case on track. If a client wants to pursue a course of action that I think is unreasonable or hopeless, I will be honest in saying so rather than waste the client's time and money pursuing fruitless causes. I have great respect for my clients, and usually defer to their litigation choices. However, I do have great experience and expertise and therefore I do not simply "take orders" from clients. Rather, we are partners in trying to achieve positive results for the client.

Personal interests:

In addition to raising three small children with my husband, I am a professional singer and enjoy reading and the performing arts.

  • Bar Number: 1022140
    Wisconsin , 1993
  • Washington University School of Law
    Juris Doctor , 1992
    St. Louis, MO
    Law Review - Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law; Environmental Moot Court 2nd place team; Golden Quill Award for Best Brief in Moot Court
  • University of Pennsylvania
    Bachelor of Arts , 1989
    Philadelphia, PA
    French/Russian language and literature.

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