Article of the Week

“Why a Strong Bench-Bar Relationship Matters”

by Matthew Talbot


The most important services the legal profession can provide for the Contra Costa County community are justice and peace of mind. The bench and bar must work together to provide timely and cost-effective justice for the citizens of this County. Whether it is in the form of a smoothly probated will or an efficiently resolved rental dispute, peace of mind comes in all manner of forms.


To help provide justice, it is important that the bench and the bar have a strong professional relationship. This is true from both sides of the equation. In these days of budget cuts and furloughs, Judges more than ever have to rely upon attorneys to act as the best officers of the court possible. When the Judges know they can trust an attorney to follow through on his or her word and treat all other parties with respect, it is much easier to resolve the matters before them. This benefits everybody involved.

How can Judges build this trust in Contra Costa County attorneys? By taking part in local Contra Costa County events, either through the Bar Association or the American Inns Of Court, that allow the bench and bar to build stronger relationships.

The benefit for the Contra Costa County practitioner is even greater. I know from personal experience how nerve-wracking it is to appear before a Judge you've never met before. These days, fewer and fewer attorneys appear enough times in front of the same Judge to build any real modicum of a professional relationship. The opportunity to build that relationship outside of the courtroom is invaluable for the attorney. Fortunately, Contra Costa is a county that provides many opportunities.

Besides the Inns Of Court, another popular event is the "Get To Know Your Judges" evenings. A local law firm hosts an event after work where attorneys and Judges can mingle. Seeing a Judge in a relaxed atmosphere with a cocktail in hand can help remove a lot of the intimidation of seeing a Judge in a formal atmosphere with a gavel in hand. A pleasant discussion at one of these events can help quell the butterflies before a Court hearing days, weeks, or even months later.

More than ever, the bench and bar need to work together to provide justice for the citizens of Contra Costa County. With the economic uncertainty, these can be disconcerting times. Providing peace of mind to an unsettled populace is one of the greatest roles the bench and bar can play. Working together, we can do just that.

Matthew Talbot practices Guardianship & Conservatorships, Trusts, Wills, Estate Planning, and Elder Law law with the Concord Mullin Law Firm.

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