Rachel Fortner is an associate in Baron & Budd’s Wildfire Recovery Group, where she advocates for the many people whose lives were decimated by the Camp Fire in Butte County, California, in 2018. Ms. Fortner received her law degree in 2002 from the University of Georgia’s School of Law in Athens, Georgia.
Rachel Fortner joined Baron & Budd’s Wildfire Recovery Group in 2018 after her home burned to the ground during the Camp Fire. She felt a strong desire to help all victims of the fire rebuild their homes, lives and communities. “My purpose now is to give voice to the stories of each Camp Fire victim and to provide them with a tangible way to rebuild their lives. That rebuilding will come in large part from holding those responsible for the Camp Fire accountable.”
Ms. Fortner did her undergraduate work at Smith College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in political theory. Through much of her legal career, Ms. Fortner has advocated for people whose voices are often ignored in the legal process. She relishes standing up to a bully on behalf of those who are not in a position to stand up for themselves. Ms. Fortner has represented disabled and low-income clients in foreclosure, consumer, domestic, bankruptcy, tax, social security and other civil or administrative proceedings.
Ms. Fortner’s strong appellate practice and her skill in appellate writing garnered her a position drafting opinions and orders for the Kentucky Court of Appeals as an appellate staff attorney. Favorable opinions she wrote that were upheld by the Kentucky Court of Appeals include McIntosh v. Campbell, 2015 WL 3826246 (Ky. App. 2015)(2014-CA-002084-ME), and Crabtree v. Crabtree, 484 S.W.3d 316 (Ky. App. 2016). In particular, Ms. Fortner is proud of an appeal she wrote on behalf of a family against whom payroll tax penalties were improperly assessed. Her successful appeal resulted in release of all federal tax liens against her client’s home, the extinguishment of $100,000 in tax liability, and $10,000 refunded to her client for penalties previously paid.
Ms. Fortner is proud to be a part of Baron & Budd’s team of dedicated advocates working on behalf of the victims of Northern California’s catastrophic fires. “Despite losing our home, I am constantly aware of how fortunate my family is to have survived the fire. I take great comfort and joy in knowing that my husband, our children, and our dog, Brutus, are safe. It is immensely rewarding to help my clients rebuild their lives as I rebuild my own. Like my clients, the activities I once loved seem trivial since the fire: playing my guitar; golfing with my husband on sunny days; and teaching yoga. I look forward to seeing my clients enjoy the passions they relished before the fire: playing a sport or an instrument; being in nature; reading a novel on a lazy afternoon; cooking a meal for loved ones to enjoy. To me, these pastimes demonstrate genuine signs of recovery.”