Coffee Talk: How Do You Give Back to the Community?

Coffee Talk is a regular feature of the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine. We asked a short question related to the Pro Bono theme and responses are published in the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine. The following responses were sent in from members of the Contra Costa County Bar Association.

This year my office represented a woman from Nigeria who was granted asylum in the US based on severe abuse by her husband. When he filed to have the parties’ children returned to him in Nigeria, it raised interesting issues related to international custody jurisdiction and how those laws apply in asylum cases. We were very happy to assist this mother to obtain an order that the court in California would retain jurisdiction over custody. I also handle minor’s counsel cases for which a small fee is paid, but most of the time spent is pro bono. I think helping the children involved when families separate is the most rewarding aspect of being a family law attorney.

Michelene Insalaco

Certified Specialist – Family Law*

Sucherman – Insalaco LLP, Telephone (415) 357-5050,

How we each give back to our community is a personal thing. Since I specialize in attorney conduct and ethics, I applied to be appointed by the State Bar Board of Trustees to the Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct. You can’t begin to imagine the work involved in drafting new Rules; we have spent almost two years and will be finished in the Spring. Conference calls during the week, meetings in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and weekends researching and drafting… the good news is that we are close to done. It has been one of the most intellectually challenging projects I have ever worked on.

Carol M. Langford,

University of San Francisco School of Law, 2130 Fulton Street

San Francisco, California 94117-1080

Usually by offering guidance on alternative courses of action or remedies like Small Claims Court on the first contact. Many I do not hear back from, but some have and told me how well the dispute turned out. A few have referred other clients over the years.

Wayne Smith, Attorney at Law

(925) 934-1699

In addition to all of the volunteer time at the CCCBA and as a Discovery Facilitator, I have been a Rotarian for 13 years. I am currently in the Diablo View club in Walnut Creek. I am on the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team and volunteer time with Team RWB helping veterans.

David S. Pearson, Law Offices of David S. Pearson

48 Kingston Place, Walnut Creek, CA 94597

(925) 287-0051 phone  (925) 871-4073 e-fax

“Giving Back” in my opinion is part of your life beginning in your teenage years to your dotage. It was instilled in me by my parents, teachers and “role models”. It is an integral part of one’s life and gives meaning to leaving this earth a better place than when I came into it. At the age of 12 (1943) I joined the Boy Scouts of America. World War II was the beginning of learning the importance of giving. We sold “War Bonds”, collected scrap metal and helped perform various community services (without compensation). I, like my early colleagues in the legal community, donated time and legal talent to our local bar associations and service organizations. Many of us served our country in the military. Most of us continued to give blood to the Red Cross during our adulthood. Today in the twilight of my legal career (55 years) I take pride in having served on the Shriners Hospital Board of Governors in Sacramento (without compensation for 9 years); as a trustee of the Northern California Scholarship Foundation (without compensation) for the past 14 years  and acting as an advisor to student recipients.

I provide free legal services to several non profit organizations and legal assistance to those in need.

Julius Kahn, III

In Contra Costa County Superior Court I have served as a Pro Tem Judge since 1997 handling the traffic, small claims and discovery calendars. I also volunteer as a Discovery Facilitator. For the Contra Costa County Bar Association I serve as a Fee Arbitrator for the Mandatory Fee Arbitration program. On the State Bar level, I volunteer as a Special Master by accompanying law enforcement to serve search warrants where attorney or doctors records are requested. I also serve as a member of the State Bar Mandatory Fee Arbitration Committee and hear fee arbitrations under that program. I am the Committee Vice-Chair for the 2016-2107 term. Giving back to the legal community in these various roles greatly assists the courts and the State Bar to carry out their mission.

Lorraine M. Walsh, Certified Specialist Legal Malpractice Law

In 2007, Genser & Watkins was awarded the first, and only, Chief Justice Ronald George Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award by the Contra Costa County Bar Association. We earned the award by providing pro bono legal services to non-profit organizations, including the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, Affordable Housing Associates, the Richmond Public Library Foundation, North Richmond Neighborhood House and several Rotary Clubs, synagogues and churches. We incorporated, applied for tax-exempt status, gave advice on personnel matters, and reviewed and negotiated leases, loans, purchases and sales. We resisted representing individuals — for our experience was that there were no clients less cooperative or grateful than the ones who were not paying for our services – but we did represent pre-screened referrals from the Law Center, who gave me their Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award, also in 2007.  Now that I am in-house and half-time, I still find myself succumbing to the plea of, “We know that you’re not in private practice any more, but…”, and I can be had for a sincere thank you and an occasional bottle of fine whisky.

Josh Genser | General Counsel |

Overaa & Co. | 200 Parr Boulevard| Richmond| CA| 94801