Meet CCCBA’s 2017 Section Leaders
CCCBA would like to introduce an amazing group of hardworking and dedicated individuals who are the backbone of the Contra Costa County Bar Association – the Section Leaders! In the following pages, we will introduce them and they will tell you about their Sections. This year we asked them to fill out the Pivot Questionnaire which is better known as the questions James Lipton asks every guest on “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” We hope you will find their selected responses interesting.
For additional details about each section or for contact information for a particular Section Leader please go to the Bar Sections page on the CCCBA website at https://www.cccba.org/attorney/sections/index.php or contact Anne K. Wolf, CCCBA’s Section Liaison at email@example.com.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Joscelyn Jones Torru has practiced law in the greater Bay Area for more than 35 years. A graduate of the UCLA School of Law, she worked previously as a deputy public defender, certified mental health hearing officer, adjunct law professor and served as a temporary judge in Contra Costa County. Her practice focus is in estate planning, trust administration, probate, conservatorship, guardianship and mediation.
As the incoming ADR Chair, Joscelyn will focus on continuing to expand awareness among the legal community of ADR as an attractive alternative to litigation; to provide further educational programs focusing on the elimination of bias in mediation and the law in general and to increase mediation opportunities for the section members.
Pivot Questions: Joscelyn’s favorite word is hope and she loves the sound of silence. She hates the sound of loud chewing and might like to attempt a career as a politician. When God greets her at the pearly gates she hopes to hear “Welcome, my good and faithful servant…now come rest, I’ve got someone to cover that court appearance.”
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section continues to expand as an attractive alternative to litigation. Private litigants increasingly turn to ADR to resolve their disputes. In many cases, parties obtain better results through ADR than through conventional litigation. With ADR, the parties may avoid the delay and expense of litigation, maintain confidentiality, control the process, and achieve a better outcome through agreements reached as a result of their direct participation.
The ADR Section’s activities include: presenting educational programs for the continued professional development of its members; analyzing and commenting on proposals, including local court rules, related to ADR; drafting proposals for consideration by the court and the board of directors, and identifying issues impacting ADR as an accessible, efficient and effective means of dispute resolution.
Section members are lawyers who also serve as mediators, arbitrators, neutral case evaluators and special masters. Attorneys who advocate for their clients in ADR proceedings are most welcome to join the section. Law students, too, are welcome.
Gary Watt serves as Chair of Hanson Bridgett’s Appellate practice. He is a State Bar approved Certified Appellate Specialist, handling writs and appeals in all of the California appellate courts, including the California Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. His practice also includes dispositive motions such as SLAPP, summary judgment, and post-trial motions. His appellate experience gives him unique insights into complex cases and esoteric disputes. He excels at issue spotting and arrives at thoughtful solutions to business problems. His practice includes risk management such as interpreting contracts, indemnity provisions, and more.
Pivot Questions: Gary’s favorite word is appeal and his least favorite word is arbitration. He loves river sounds and hates freeway noise. Gary would like to try a career as a novelist but not as an airline pilot.
The Appellate Section—formed in 1991, focuses on continuing education and the improvement of appellate advocacy. Members include attorneys whose practice is devoted to appeals and writs as well as trial lawyers interested in enriching their understanding of the appellate process and issues. The section hosts periodic MCLE seminars. Seminar speakers have included appellate court justices, appellate and Supreme Court research attorneys, and attorneys with special expertise in appeals, writs, and post-trial motions. The Appellate Section welcomes all lawyers and law students to join and attend programs. Many programs have broad appeal to litigators and are presented in partnership with the Litigation Section.
The section has been approved as a provider of appellate specialty MCLE, an extra benefit for attorneys who are, or are seeking to become, certified appellate specialists.
Jen Lee, owner of Jen Lee Law with offices in San Ramon and Tracy, advises consumers and small business owners on debt and credit issues, including representation in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy matters. Originally from North Dakota, Jen now lives in Livermore with her husband, two daughters, and four dogs. She also works with local dog rescue groups to foster and find forever homes for shelter dogs.
Pivot Questions: Jen’s favorite word is nonsense while her least favorite word is vis-à-vis? Jen would not like to go into law enforcement and she loves the sound of babies giggling.
The Bankruptcy Law Section is primarily comprised of attorneys who represent debtors and/or creditors in bankruptcy cases. The section has non-attorney members, including accountants and bankruptcy trustees. The purpose of the section is to provide a forum of fellowship and learning concerning topics of interest for attorneys and non-attorneys who practice in bankruptcy court and non-attorneys who provide support to the bankruptcy bar. The section typically meets three to five times each year, usually for continuing education programs held at lunchtime at the CCCBA office conference room. At these luncheons, speakers discuss topics of interest to the bankruptcy bar and are usually approved for one hour of MCLE credit. Past speakers have included bankruptcy judges and trustees, private practice attorneys in the area, and other professionals.
Jeremy Seymour is a Deputy District Attorney in Contra Costa County. He has served various assignments in his seven years of practice and is currently assigned to the Special Operations Division. He is also a member of the Robert G. McGrath American Inn of Court.
Pivot Questions: Jeremy loves good music and travelling, learning, and meeting new people. His least favorite word is um and his favorite word is syzygy. He would like to attempt a career as a writer.
The Barristers/Young Lawyers Section provides attorneys in practice for ten years or less with networking, education, and mentoring opportunities. All members of the Contra Costa Bar Association with under ten years of practice are automatically members and welcome to attend section board meetings to learn about getting more involved.
The goal of the section is to make new members feel welcome and build a network within the bar association, as well as to develop familiarity with all aspects of the legal field in Contra Costa County. The section wants to help its members have a strong understanding of what other lawyers do, a strong social and referral network no matter where their practice takes them, and a genuine commitment to advancing the profession. To this end, the Barristers also put on educational MCLE events targeted to newly-practicing attorneys, engage in charitable endeavors, and organize social events and outings to allow young lawyers to network.
Kent Parr spent the first half of his career practicing business and real estate litigation. His focus is now on business and commercial transactions in a solo setting. Kent recently retired from a five-year stint volunteering every Wednesday at a soup kitchen in Pittsburg and holds down the baritone slot in the award-winning HouseBlend Quartet.
Pivot Questions: Kent’s least favorite word is utilize. He loves the sound of a mug of coffee being set on his wood butcher block countertop and when he gets to the pearly gates he’d like to hear God say, “You have TSA pre-check clearance…go to front of the line, please.”
The Business Law Section Business lawyers (whether outside counsel or in-house counsel) are among the most important members of a business team. They work with all key members of the enterprise to provide a wide range of strategic and legal insights to address and resolve routine as well as thorny matters facing entrepreneurs and developed business. The Business Law Section’s mission is to provide up-to-date information on issues facing business lawyers in our competitive climate, to provide continuing legal education to attorneys in California, and to provide opportunities for networking in our growing East Bay legal community.
The Business Law Section supports regular meetings, with experts in the wide variety of issues facing business lawyers to support new ventures, to promote business development, and to provide a basis for corporations taking advantage of the many new initiatives for business growth and development. Because Contra Costa County is in an ideal position to be a corporate growth center in northern California, the Business Law Section strives to bring strategic and legal expertise to you.
The section presents programs to members addressing corporate formation, corporate reporting, due diligence, public-offerings, compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, protection of intangible corporate property (trade secrets, patents, copyrights and trademarks) and other issues of topical importance. Their goal is to assist members in the development and support of their practices in business and corporation law and to provide educational service to the general public with occasional public seminars such as the “Two Entrepreneurs Walk Into a Bar” series. Contact them about specific areas that are important to you and your clients.
Mary P. Carey manages her private practice in Walnut Creek. She is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley, and University of San Francisco School of Law. Mary has extensive trial experience having served as a Contra Costa County Deputy Public Defender representing adults and children accused of crime for 18 years. Currently she specializes in adult criminal defense, juvenile delinquency and dependency, victim impact, personal injury and civil rights litigation. She has served on the Board of Directors of the CCCBA since 2012.
Pivot Questions: Mary is turned off by bigotry and her least favorite word is hate. She would not like to be a cat trainer and wants God to greet her at the pearly gates and tell her “Darwin was right.”
The Criminal Law Section hosts lunchtime MCLE meetings in Martinez, where it provides continuing education on such topics as new statutes, case law, and technology. Speakers include judges, attorneys, expert witnesses, and county administrators. Programs provide information specific to practicing law in Contra Costa County courts. These meetings provide a relaxed environment within which to learn from the talented legal resources available in our county, to get to know other lawyers, and to make valuable contacts. The goal of this section is to provide information that can be of practical assistance to criminal defense attorneys in motions and trial practice and case management. The section generally sponsors an issue of the Contra Costa Lawyer, which gives section members a chance to write articles and be published.
Michael LaMay’s practice focuses on trust and estate litigation, financial elder abuse litigation, contested conservatorship litigation, trust administration, probate, conservatorships, and estate planning. He assists clients in all aspects of contentious trust, estate and conservatorship matters, including client counseling, settlement negotiations, mediation and litigation through trial.
The Elder Law Section presents programs that help keep attorneys informed about Elder Law issues and also presents a monthly Conservatorship Workshop as a joint project with the Superior Court. Generally, there are two areas of practice of Elder Law. The first is transactional work, closely related to estate planning, which often focuses on eligibility for various benefits, such as Medi-Cal. The second is litigation, including conservatorship proceedings, financial elder abuse and physical elder abuse/neglect. In addition, Elder Law often overlaps with other practice areas when a client, or interested party, is over the age of 65. Given the breadth of what is, or can become an Elder Law issue, and the increasing portion of the aging population, many practitioners can benefit from what the Elder Law Section offers.
Yen Chau is a senior associate with Greenan, Peffer, Sallander & Lally, LLP. Yen practices predominately in employment and commercial litigation defense. She is also a member of the firm’s estate planning group. Yen is additionally a registered patent attorney, and has worked in the biotechnology field as a research associate for a gene therapy company.
As President of the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Employment Section, Yen’s focus for 2017 is to provide meaningful opportunities for section members to develop productive networking connections, as well as opportunities to learn and discuss legal developments, theories and practice pointers through friendly and informative programs.
Pivot Questions: Yen’s favorite word is hella and she is turned off by arrogance. Her least favorite word is no and her favorite sound is cha-ching!
The Employment Law Section includes members representing both employee and employer/management interests, as well as in-house counsel, neutral investigators, mediators and law school students. Through continuing education events on pertinent issues facing employment law practitioners, networking events, and sponsoring non-profit legal aid workshops, the Employment Law Section serves as a resource for its members and local community. Those involved in employment law or interested in employment law are invited to participate in the Employment Law Section. To become a member or learn more about this section, please contact Yen.
Estate Planning & Probate
Virginia M. George is a partner at George | Schofield | McCormick, LLP. Prior to joining the firm, she sat as a judge pro tem in the Probate Department of Contra Costa Superior Court. Before her time on the bench, Virginia worked as a full-time professor at JFK School of Law, teaching evidence, criminal procedure and wills and trusts. While at JFK, she supervised JFK’s Elder Law Clinic, which provided pro bono services to elders who had been financially abused. Virginia began her legal career as a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County.
The Estate Planning & Probate Section was established in 1993. Membership is open to practicing attorneys, private professional fiduciaries, accounting practitioners, trust officers, and law students. Section members and non-members are invited to attend upcoming programs that begin in January each year at the Contra Costa Country Club with the annual Probate Bench Luncheon.
Every year since 1994 the section, with co-sponsorship of The Mechanics Bank’s Trust Department has presented an Annual Estate Planning Symposium. The symposium is held at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek each year in March or April. The event draws counsel, educators, and professionals to present topics of current interest to the bar, tax professionals and students. The section is pleased to present this program with availability of specialization credit.
Board members and section liaisons continue to provide volunteer service, each devoting time and energy to ensure that events provide broad continuing education opportunity for members at a competitive cost. The section continues its practice of donating to local legal service organizations through the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s “Bar Fund Benefit” In 2013, the section made a $5,000 donation that supported Contra Costa Senior Legal Services and has continued to support the Bar Fund ever since.
The section is broadly based among probate, estate planning, conservatorship, guardianship, and trust practitioners. It strives to present opportunities for members to obtain MCLE credits at programs that address all of these areas of practice and welcome suggestions from members.
David C. Erb is an associate attorney at Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada, LLP, with offices in Silicon Valley and Contra Costa County. He is a Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Family Law Section since 2014 and was elected President in 2017.
Pivot Questions: David’s least favorite word is rumination. The sound he loves is his wife’s voice while the sound he hates is the dentist’s drill. Negativity turns him off and he would like to attempt a career as a professional athlete.
A Family Law Section membership is indispensable for anyone who practices family law in Contra Costa County. The most visible benefits of membership are:
-Dynamic monthly education seminars and periodic extended seminars led by experienced faculty
-Early notification of changes in rules
-Information regarding the practice requirements in the family law departments
-Annual meeting and other programs with local family law judges. The bench often uses these meetings as an opportunity to make announcements. MCLE and specialization credits are provided for attending.
Also important is the monthly section newsletter, In Chancery, which keeps members abreast of section activities, news from the bench, and educational opportunities. Section members receive exclusive use of the section website at www.familylawsectioncontracosta.org.
The section maintains ongoing liaison with the bench, Family Court Services, the Facilitator’s Office, the Department of Child Support Services, the Advisory Council Against Domestic Violence (ACAD), and the various legal aid providers in the county. Through its liaison with the court, the section is actively involved in reviewing court rules or policies and providing input and assistance in drafting new rules and changes to existing rules.
The section has been active in developing creative and innovative services for family law litigants through a variety of mediation and unbundled legal services programs. It has also worked closely with the bench and professionals in other fields to develop top quality services in such as Custody / Visitation Special Masters, the CPA Pro Bono Program, and minor’s counsel.
Flavio Carvalho practices Immigration and Family Law. His office is in the San Francisco financial district and he represents clients throughout the Bay Area. He has an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and his J.D. from JFK University. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen and a native of Rio, Brazil, so his experience with immigration is personal. He chairs the CCCBA Immigration Law Section and is a Fellow of the ABA Family Section and member of the ABA Diversity Committee.
Pivot Questions: Flavio’s favorite word is ubiquitous and his least favorite word is literally. He is turned on by nature and turned off by crowds. He loves the sound of rain while he does not like the sound of screaming followed closely by roar of leaf blowers!
The newly formed CCCBA Immigration Law Section strives to support the work of Contra Costa’s immigration attorneys and promote the best possible immigration services in our county and beyond. The section provides continuing education, training and mentoring for immigration attorneys. It assists attorneys in the overlap between immigration law and other practices – such as employment, juvenile, family, criminal, business & estate planning and probate. Finally, the section works to promote events and programs that make immigration law accessible to those who need it.
CCCBA through its Lawyer Referral and Information Service, holds monthly immigration workshops at local libraries. If you are interested in volunteering for one of the workshops please contact Anne Wolf, Education and Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (925) 370-2540.
Intellectual Property Law
Joseph R. Snyder is the Managing Partner of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton’s Walnut Creek office. He focuses his practice on patent prosecution and counseling, primarily in the chemical arts, biotechnology, life sciences and clean technology. Dr. Snyder represents U.S. and foreign companies, such as pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic laboratories, universities and start-ups in all areas of intellectual property counseling and protection. His technology experience includes small molecules, pharmaceutical formulations, drug delivery technologies, medical diagnostics, nucleic acid assays, nucleic acid sequencing technologies, dyes and clean technology, such as fuel cells. Dr. Snyder was recognized as a 2014, 2015 and 2016 Northern California “Super Lawyer” in the area of Intellectual Property by Super Lawyers magazine.
Before joining the firm, Dr. Snyder worked as a patent attorney for Zeneca Ag Products in the areas of patent drafting, patent prosecution and patent validity opinions. Prior to joining the legal profession, he was a senior scientist in their analytical department doing organic structural analysis using NMR and mass spectrometry.
Stuart West formed West & Associates in February 2004 and is the firm’s managing patent attorney. He is responsible for coordinating prosecution, transactional and litigation matters. In addition to counseling clients in matters related to the litigation and licensing of intellectual property rights, his practice also includes counseling clients in obtaining, protecting and enforcing rights associated with patents, trademarks, service marks, trade names, trade secrets and copyrights before the federal courts, in state courts and before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. As the head of the CCCBA’s IP Section for the past several years, Stuart West and section members, in conjunction with the Women’s Initiative Program, have assisted hundreds of solo inventors and small startup companies with their intellectual property needs on a pro bono basis. Licensed in the U.K. and Europe as well, he has assisted small-scale and multinational clients with patent, trademark and copyright matters around the world.
The Intellectual Property Section is a resource for attorneys and others to learn, share, network, and strengthen their expertise in intellectual property. The goals for the section are to 1) Keep abreast of new legal developments; 2) Share written resources through an online brief bank; 3) Develop industry contacts and interaction between the members and the local business community; 4) Pool resources in order to obtain discounts on continuing education programs; 5) Develop contacts and interaction with local in-house counsel; 6) Develop programs for law schools to further the practical training of future IP attorneys; and 7) Learn about the members’ own practice areas for the purpose of assisting in client referrals.
The IP section is on the cutting edge of law changes that impact all areas of business. Approximately three to five times per year, the IP section presents topical presentations on current intellectual property issues that are of general interest or are of high importance to practitioners in the IP field. We try to hold our meetings during the breakfast hour in a centrally-located conference room in Walnut Creek and meetings are concluded by 9 am, so members can get topical information on current issues and then get to work by a reasonable time. Up-to-date information coupled with a convenient time allows members to keep current on industry practices with a minimum of disruption to billing.
Rhonda Wilson-Rice practices law in Pittsburg. She has been practicing law in Contra Costa County for over 20 years. Her practice serves the families and children of the community, primarily in child welfare law (CPS cases), juvenile delinquency and criminal defense.
Pivot Questions: Rhonda’s favorite word is peace and she is turned off by confusion. Rhonda loves the sound of the saxophone and hates fingernails on a blackboard. She would most definitely not want to pursue a career as a phlebotomist.
Juvenile Law Section members are lawyers who represent children, parents, guardians, foster parents, relatives, and others involved in juvenile dependency proceedings, who are before the court due to the abuse or neglect of a child. Membership in the section provides beneficial continuing legal education and opportunities for professional development.
Brown bag lunch MCLE programs are held on such topics as case law and statutory reviews, techniques on interviewing children, the Indian Child Welfare Act, immigration laws and their effect on dependent children, and recognizing and treating substance abuse in clients. Speakers include experienced attorneys, therapists, and other professionals. Besides fulfilling state bar requirements, these programs satisfy the local court rules for mandatory competence of counsel.
During the holiday season, the section sponsors an annual toy drive for foster children and teens in need in our county. Members participate in meetings between the bench, Social Services, and the Legal Aid Society Dependency Program through representation at the “Judges’ Meeting” and the Social Worker-Attorney Training Committee (SWATT).
Kate Mignani is a first-year law student at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill. She currently works full-time for JFKU as executive assistant to the dean of the College of Psychology and Holistic Studies. She previously worked as a paralegal at a small Family Law firm in Walnut Creek. Kate is a certified paralegal, a notary public, and serves on the board of New Day for Children, a non-profit that helps girls who have been rescued from human trafficking.
Pivot Questions: Kate’s favorite word is encourage and her least favorite word is oppression. Worship music turns her on and she would love to try a career as a motivational speaker but not as a CPA.
Lisa Antoine is a first-year law student at John F. KennedyUniversity in Pleasant Hill. She currently works as a Police Operations Dispatcher and Administrative Assistant to the Chief of Police for a law enforcement agency in Alameda County. She has worked in emergency services (police and medical) for over 12 years. Lisa is also a certified EMT and licensed HAM radio operator. She is a volunteer with Medical Volunteers for Disaster Response (MVDR).
Pivot Questions: Lisa’s favorite word is honor. She loves the sound of laughter and good music. She would not like to be an insurance broker and does not like yelling.
The Law Student Section engages students and attorneys in countless networking and mentorship opportunities. With all of the sections that CCCBA offers, the law student members have the opportunity to explore the areas of potential practice, ask specific questions, interview, and intern in the desired areas of practice.
Law student membership comes primarily from JFKU College of Law, Hastings, Boalt, and Golden Gate University School of Law.
Section members have the opportunity to expand their law school education in significant ways that both serve the community and yield practical legal experience. Volunteer opportunities at many of the bar-hosted events allow students to serve the legal community while honing their networking skills. Events, such as the annual MCLE Spectacular, also provide students important exposure to current issues in the field of law. Students can gain hands-on experience through the CCCBA-sponsored “Free Legal Workshops” as they may work directly with attorneys in a consumer-oriented client setting. The CCCBA is bridging the gap between the law school and the real life practice opportunities through their mentorship, internships, and networking events.
Suggestions for presentation topics or student-related activities are welcomed and encouraged. Please contact either Kate or Lisa.
Leonard E. Marquez is a civil litigation attorney with the law firm of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP in Oakland, California. Founded in 1909, Wendel Rosen is a leading East Bay law firm that provides a full range of legal services to businesses in Contra Costa County, the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Mr. Marquez’ practice focuses on landlord-tenant disputes and commercial evictions, as well as general civil litigation. He is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Mr. Marquez has represented commercial landlords in all manner of commercial lease disputes, including tenant evictions and breach of lease claims.
Pivot Questions: Leonard is creatively turned on by building his own creations with LEGO bricks. He is turned off by negativity and loves the sound of an airplane overhead on a clear summer day. Aside from being a lawyer he would like to try being an architect.
Justin Schnitzler is a partner at Ring Hunter Holland & Schenone, LLP. His practice is widespread in his representation of public entities, large-scale developers, commercial landlords, and companies in all stages of complex commercial and real estate litigation. Prior to joining Ring Hunter Holland & Schenone, he spent many years with another regional law firm located in Walnut Creek in the firm’s real estate and business and technology practice groups. He was selected as a California Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2013, 2014 & 2015.
Pivot Questions: Justin’s favorite word is maybe and his least favorite word is artisanal. He loves the sound of his kid’s laughing and he would like to join The Felice Brothers as their second accordian player!
The Litigation Section provides a forum for civil trial attorneys to hone their advocacy skills, network and socialize. It presents seminars on trial practice featuring the county’s judicial officers and its senior practitioners providing instruction and real-world advice on the art and science of trial practice.
The section sponsors programs of interest for civil practitioners of all experience levels and abilities. In past years, the Litigation Section has sponsored presentations regarding use of technology in the courtroom, jury trials, complex issues in breach of contract cases, taking and defending depositions, ADR, and litigating in federal court.
The section also facilitates dialogue with the local Superior Court bench to keep pace with changing court procedures and to promote the efficient and fair administration of justice.
Marie Quashnock, after over 27 years in private practice, has developed extensive experience representing individuals, startups, businesses, and public entities across a multitude of industries. In her transactional experience, she has advised real estate clients on a wide range of transactions, including sales contracts, lease arrangements, and debt and equity financing. She also developed a specialty in intellectual property law, having prosecuted hundreds of trademark registrations with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on behalf of her clients. With broad civil litigation experience in a variety of areas, she focuses primarily on real estate and business litigation. Marie was named a Super Lawyer by Northern California Super Lawyer Magazine for two consecutive years, 2009 and 2010. Marie has been a partner at Alvis Quashnock and Associates in Brentwood since March 2013.
Pivot Questions: Marie loves the sound of the cello and is turned on by seeing the sunrise. She does not like sitting in traffic and the sound of the dentist’s drill. Marie could see herself trying out a career as an interior designer.
The Real Estate Section offers monthly breakfast MCLE programs free to section members and open to other members of the Contra Costa County Bar Association and other guests, as well as networking and activities related to the practice of real estate law. Non-members are welcome to participate in monthly programs for a small fee. The programs focus on real estate issues of current interest. The section is also proud to make annual charitable contributions to various groups and interests.
This section meets the third Friday of most months, except July, August, November and December. Annual dues are $55, which cover the MCLE programs and related meals. The Contra Costa Lawyer solicits articles from members of the section on a regular basis.
Solo & Small Firm
Chris Schneider is an estate planning and tax attorney with Dorband & Schneider, LLP in Walnut Creek. He has been practicing since graduating from Golden Gate University in 2008. Chris is a native of the East Bay having grown up in Lamorinda and then attending Saint Mary’s College for undergraduate and graduate studies. He now lives with his wife and two young children in Alamo.
Pivot Questions: Chris would like to attempt a career as an airline pilot. His favorite word is victorious and his least favorite word is literally. When Chris arrives at the pearly gates he would like to hear God say “Welcome to Heaven, you have the third cloud on the left and the wifi password is…”
The Solo Practice & Small Firm Section—launched in 1996—evolved from the recognition that many sole and small firm practitioners desired and at times needed the camaraderie, intellectual stimulation, and informational exchange that attorneys generally find in larger law firms. By having consistent networking and fellowship opportunities, the Section has evolved into a collegial organization resembling a “firm,” with specialists in various fields both willing and able to offer assistance to other Section members.
A partnership with JFKU Law School allows members to have cost-effective and convenient access to legal resources through full use of the JFKU Law Library, and JFKU Law School students are admitted to the Section. Solo Practice & Small Firm Section members also receive an email newsletter, The Maverick, informing them of upcoming events, providing topical articles and a forum for comment and commentary. Members also have access to an email listserv.
The Section hosts after-work mixers and breakfasts in alternating months, and participates in the Bar’s MCLE Spectacular each November. Monthly meetings are open to both members and non-members. The Section’s MCLE Spectacular programs have included panel discussions on how to open a law firm and how to prepare a small firm for death, disability and disaster.
Christina Weed’s solo practice focuses on tax law, estate planning, and litigation. As a licensed attorney with an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, Christina has dedicated the past 14 years to the study and practice of law, business, accounting, and estate planning, and uses this knowledge to guide her clients through both personal and business planning measures. Christina has been the Chair of the Tax Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association since 2013.
Pivot Questions: Christina’s favorite word is her baby girl’s name Liana and her favorite sound is Liana’s giggle. She is turned on by opportunity and turned off by cold weather. When she arrives at the Pearly Gates, Christina would like to hear God ask, “Pinot or Cab?”
The Taxation Section is one of the longest running sections of CCCBA. Its members meet regularly with tax agency leaders, skilled practitioners, and legal scholars to discuss changes in tax laws and administration. The Taxation Section also holds regular joint meetings with a number of different sections, such as the Real Estate, Family Law, Bankruptcy and Estate Planning & Probate Sections, to educate them on tax issues relevant to each section’s members. Speakers at events have included ranking members of the IRS, the Franchise Tax Board and legal scholars and practitioners. Legal ethics, recent tax acts and “practice pointers” are among the topics covered during the year.
The section invites all interested attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, paralegals, and others to join them for a luncheon meeting. Affiliate membership is open to accounting practitioners only.
Karen Juster Hecht became a lawyer so that she could help people. She practices family law and mediation, which fulfills her goal of helping clients through difficult times. Her previous career path included general civil litigation and business.
In addition to practicing law, Karen enjoys her family and she happily pursues her passion for writing and photography with multiple projects. If she’s not inside working, she loves being outdoors, walking, hiking, biking, and swimming in the beautiful Bay Area.
Daniel Butt’s solo practicespecializes in real estate, construction,business formation, and commercial contracts. As well as being a member of the Bar, Daniel is a licensed real estate broker and general contractor, who in a prior life operated an award-winning construction company focused on historic preservation. Daniel is a West County native and graduate of King Hall, UC Davis.
The West County Section reestablished the connection between CCCBA members in the west county that had been missing since the West County Bar Association was consolidated with the Central and East County Bar Associations. It is the only regional section, tasked with ensuring that the interests of lawyers practicing in the West Contra Costa area are represented within, and considered by, CCCBA. Meetings, which are generally held on a quarterly basis, are scheduled with a variety of continuing education presentations on topics including juveniles, family, real property, trust and estate matters, and other issues of general legal interest.
Bench /Bar networking events are also a priority to allow members to connect with each other and members of the local judiciary.
We welcome all practice areas and encourage those practicing in the area to join. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to serve within the section leadership.
Janell Alberto is a senior associate in Archer Norris’s Walnut Creek office, focusing her practice on litigation. She handles matters involving civil and commercial litigation, products liability, premises liability, trucking, and automobile liability. She also supports the firm’s Toxic Tort Litigation practice group. Well-versed in all stages of litigation, Janell is ideally suited for Archer Norris’s fast-paced On Call Trial Counsel team.
Before coming to Archer Norris, Janell was an associate at Low, Ball & Lynch in San Francisco, where her practice emphasized products, general liability, and commercial litigation. Before that, she was with Livingston Law Firm in Walnut Creek, and Foley & Mansfield in Oakland.
While attending law school, Janell worked as a certified law clerk for the Tillamook County DA’s office in Oregon. She tried and charged cases for the Oregon Circuit Court, giving her a distinctive capability to see a case from all sides.
Pivot Questions: One of Janell’s favorite words is penultimate. She loves the sound of the ocean and she would like to try to be a professional stunt car driver but is too afraid of getting hurt. When Janell walks through the pearly gates she would like to hear God say, “Here is your private chocolate shop.”
The Women’s Section has been a strong presence in CCCBA for over 25 years. Its members include attorneys practicing in all areas of the law who live or work in Contra Costa County.
The goal of the section is to further the advancement of women in the legal profession and the judiciary. Men are welcome to join. The CCCBA Women’s Section is a proud Affiliate of the California Women Lawyers (www.cwl.org). Members of the Women’s Section receive a discounted membership to CWL.
The Women’s Section provides networking opportunities for its members to meet other attorneys and professionals. The section hosts informational programs and lunches, some offering MCLE credit and others focusing on matters of more personal interest, such as job opportunities and rainmaking.
The Women’s Section annually awards the Honorable Patricia Herron and Honorable Ellen James Scholarship to deserving law students who have shown leadership potential, achieved academic success, and helped to advance women’s issues. The section hosts a scholarship fundraiser each spring, usually in the form of a silent auction and wine-tasting. We gratefully accept donations to the Scholarship Fund anytime and would like to thank all who have donated and supported this great scholarship.
All members are invited to attend the board meetings which are held on the first Wednesday of each month. If you would like to serve on the board or want further information, please contact Janell.