Meet Your 2014 Section Leaders

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Alternative Dispute Resolution Section

Peter Mankin, ADR Section Leader

Peter Mankin, ADR Section Leader

I initially joined CCCBA because…

In the late 1970s, CCCBA was a close-knit group with lots of camaraderie. It was great to go to monthly Bar Luncheons and know most of the lawyers there.

I stay at CCCBA because…

It has evolved into a very professional Bar Association, thanks mostly to Lisa Reep. The sections have become the lifeblood of the CCCBA. The educational opportunities are great and I still enjoy the camaraderie, although it’s not quite as personal.

I am a Section Leader because…

I am committed to the continued growth and contribution the ADR Section is making to the legal community.
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Appellate Section

Gary A. Watt, Appellate Section Chair

Gary A. Watt, Appellate Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

The Bar Association is a great way to network and brainstorm with other members of the profession.

I stay at CCCBA because…

The Bar Association provides high-quality opportunities for continuing legal education, contribution to the community and much more.

I am a Section Leader because…

Section leadership allows me to give something back to the legal community by taking on this responsibility.

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Bankruptcy Section

David Arietta, Bankruptcy Law Section Chair

David Arietta, Bankruptcy Law Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I was an associate at a small law firm and wanted to meet other attorneys in the area. I also was interested in the Barristers Section and their softball league. I am still playing softball on that team almost 20 years later.

I stay at CCCBA because…

My best and strongest referral sources are fellow attorneys that I have met at the Bar Association. I like the continuing opportunities to meet new people and stay in touch with those that I have known for a while now. I also enjoy having the ability to sign up for the variety of educational programs offered by different sections.

I am a Section Leader because…

I want to be sure that the section is available as a resource both for its members and the general Bar membership. There is great value in having consistent educational programs, as they provide not only a venue for keeping up on the law but also foster a sense of community among the membership. Being a sole practitioner, I usually come to an event with a particular question or war story to share.

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Barristers/Young Lawyers Section

Marta Vanegas, Barristers Section Chair

Marta Vanegas, Barristers Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

My law school’s career counselor told me to join the county bar where I wanted to work. I knew I wanted to work where I lived, and wanted to network with like-minded professionals.

I stay at CCCBA because…

There is no better resource for finding affordable, high-quality MCLE programs, networking events and amazing individuals! I find myself becoming more and more engaged with several different sections of CCCBA as I am finding out which areas I would like to specialize in. Some sections also unite attorneys in divergent practices along some other attributes, such as the Women’s Section or the Solo Practice & Small Firm Section.

I am a Section Leader because…

I admire the work of the sections, and want to participate in the effort. Being a Section Leader allows me to engage and develop my leadership potential and has led to finding mentors and friends within the Bar Association.

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Business Law & Corporate Counsel Section

Kent Parr, BLCC Section Chair

Kent Parr, BLCC Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I believed it was expected by my law firm at the time.

I stay at CCCBA because…

It is a good source for keeping current in recent legal developments, and for meeting other lawyers in a non-adversarial setting.

I am a Section Leader because…

I was asked to do so, and I felt it would be a service to the CCCBA.

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Criminal Law Section

Mary P. Carey, Criminal Law Section Chair

Mary P. Carey, Criminal Law Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I wished to maintain membership in a vibrant legal community after leaving government law for private practice.

I stay at CCCBA because…

There are opportunities to expand my intellectual, social, professional and philanthropic interests.

I am a Section Leader because…

I enjoy working with my colleagues to put together useful continuing education programs, maintain a pulse on the criminal justice community in Contra Costa and engage in leadership activities.

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Elder Law Section

  • Section Chair: Joseph Morrill

I initially joined CCCBA because…

II began practicing in Contra Costa County in 1999. I had just turned 29 years old and knew very few attorneys located in the county. It was the best way to meet people who could provide me insight into the local practices, collaborate on legal and practical questions, and help introduce me to other professionals both in the legal field and beyond.

I stay at CCCBA because…

I enjoy the events and MCLE activities, and discovered that the CCCBA is a great way to stay up to date on developments in my field of practice, interact with the bench, and cultivate relationships with other practitioners.

I am a Section Leader because…

I was asked by the former section leader to join the board of the Elder Law Section. After serving as a board member for a few years, I was asked if I was interested in being the Section Leader. I thought it would be a great way to help develop knowledge and interest regarding issues in the field, both for elder law practitioners and others who are faced with elder law issues.

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Employment Section

Michele Lane, Employment Law Section Chair

Michele Lane, Employment Law Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA…

To enjoy the support offered by the Bar Association, meet fellow attorneys and gain a better knowledge of the county legal community and court system.

I stay at CCCBA because…

Over the past 25 years, I have enjoyed all of the benefits of associating with fellow attorneys, getting to know the judges and others in the legal community and participating in the high-quality continuing education programs provided.

I am a Section Leader because…

It gives me an opportunity to work with a variety of seasoned and exceptional attorneys in my area of practice. I gain knowledge and practical practice information as well as enjoying associating with dedicated attorneys willing to serve the section with their time and talent.

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Estate Planning & Probate Section

Mark Frisbie, EP&P Section Chair

Mark Frisbie, EP&P Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA…

To meet other local practitioners and keep informed about developments in our local courts.

I stay at CCCBA…

For the reasons I joined and because I save money on the cost of attending programs and events.

I am a Section Leader because…

It is my turn to serve for the benefit of those in my field of practice, as others have for me in the past.

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Family Law Section

Paul Bonnar, Family Law Section Chair

Paul Bonnar, Family Law Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I heard everyone joined. At that time, the only section was West Contra Costa; we did not have sections by practice area.

I stay at CCCBA because…

It allows all of us together to work to improve our role in the courts to better serve our clients.

I am a Section Leader because…

The Family Law Section provides professional education and development. It helps me become more effective in looking out for my clients’ interests and provides opportunity for fellowship with colleagues.

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Intellectual Property Section

Stuart West, IP Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I wanted the opportunity to network with other CCCBA members practicing in other fields of law.

I stay at CCCBA because…

CCCBA affords me the opportunity to get out of the office and interact with other members of the legal community.

I am a Section Leader because…

CCCBA offers many excellent programs that keep me “in touch” with current legal news and a large population of the legal community.

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Juvenile Law Section

Rhonda Wilson-Rice, Juvenile Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

Of the membership benefits. Belonging to a section helps so much with professional development that you can’t get elsewhere.

I stay at CCCBA…

For the same reasons; it is a great connection with my colleagues.

I am a Section Leader because…

I enjoy helping members know what’s going on with Juvenile Law.

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Litigation Section

Geoffrey Steele, Litigation Section Co-Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I belong to several bar associations—it is a great way to get to know other lawyers in the area and to find people who you can confidently refer cases outside your own discipline. Since my main base is in Contra Costa County, the CCCBA is the one that I always make sure I am a member of. I cannot imagine practicing in Contra Costa County and not being a member of the local bar, as I would think it would put me at a disadvantage in not getting to know the judges and court through the brown bag programs, luncheons, MCLE programs, etc.

I stay at CCCBA because…

The programs alone are worth the price of admission, but it is also the support for the member attorneys that keeps me on as a member of the CCCBA.

I am a Section Leader because…

Being a Litigation Section chairperson has been a no-brainer for me. The Litigation Section is the one section that crosses over most of the other disciplines, covering a wide variety of legal issues, including insights regarding practicing before the Contra Costa courts. The Litigation Section’s MCLE programs and mixers are opportunities to meet attorneys that you might not otherwise get to know.

In addition, the Litigation Section is involved in several of the pro bono workshops in Contra Costa County. Those workshops afford our members great opportunities to hone their skills and give back to the community. I have met other Litigation Section members from all over the Bay Area, which has allowed me to confidently refer cases to attorneys I have gotten to know and respect, and I have had referrals from other Litigation Section members back to me. Most likely, they may not have gotten to know me other than our participation as a Litigation Section chair.

  • Section Co-Chair: Marissa Nebenzahl Sinha

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I wanted to become involved in the local legal community. I believe that getting to know other attorneys and judges on a more personal level is just as important to the practice of law as substantive knowledge.

I stay at CCCBA because…

I have had a lot of fun! I love showing up to appearances and local events and seeing faces that I know.

I am a Section Leader because…

I don’t think anyone in their right mind could have refused a charming offer from Geoff Steele to co-chair the Litigation Section with him!

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Pro Bono Section

Samantha Sepehr, Pro Bono Section Co-Chair

Samantha Sepehr, Pro Bono Section Co-Chair

Peggy Bristol-Wright, Pro Bono Section Co-Chair

Peggy Bristol-Wright, Pro Bono Section Co-Chair

We initially joined CCCBA because…

We were both exposed to and heavily involved with the CCCBA while attending law school. We realized it was an active Bar Association with a variety of MCLE events to attend and learn from. Upon graduating, we both knew this would be the best association to immediately join.

We stay at CCCBA because…

They provide opportunities for developing relationships and networking amongst our legal community.

We are Section Leaders because…

We enjoy providing educational opportunities to our colleagues to help promote the need for pro bono services in various areas of the law.

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Real Estate Section

Mike Durkee, Real Estate Section Chair

Mike Durkee, Real Estate Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

It was a way for me to connect to where I live by becoming part of the local business/legal community.

I stay at CCCBA because…

Participation in the local legal community is very rewarding to me.

I am a Section Leader because…

I want to give back to my practice area. My predecessors did a great job building the Real Estate Section into one of the most active in the CCCBA. Our current Board shares that vision. We meet once a month for breakfast and an hour’s presentation on current topics in real estate, land use, environmental and related topics. We attract talented presenters and are well attended. Additionally, attendance will help better acquaint one with other local real estate practitioners.

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Solo Practice & Small Firm Section

Andrew McCall, Solo Section Chair

Andrew McCall, Solo Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

The firm I worked for signed up all new associates as CCCBA members.

I stay at CCCBA because…

Of the many benefits of membership, including the LRIS, which has provided me with many good clients over the years. The MCLE programs are good, relevant and reasonably priced. CCCBA events are great for networking.

I am a Section Leader because…

I have enjoyed the Solo/Small Firm Section’s events over the years, especially the breakfasts and the MCLE Spectacular presentations, so I want to be more involved in the section to make sure it continues its events, and to give back some of my time and efforts to the cause.

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Student Section

  • Section Co-Chair: Rebecca Harris

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I was interested in gaining more footing in the Contra Costa legal community. I knew that as a member, I would get the opportunities to network and hear from others in various arenas of the law.

I stay at CCCBA because…

It has given me the opportunities that I was seeking and more. I have had the chance to hear amazing speakers and learn about topics in the law that I might not have otherwise.

I am a Section Leader because…

I have been able to meet and work with dedicated attorneys. They have shown me what it will be like once I join them on the other side, and I would be honored to join their ranks.

  • Section Co-Chair: Jennifer Navalle

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I knew being a member would give me opportunities to meet attorneys who could share their stories and advice on graduating law school and passing the bar exam, which I look forward to completing and eventually joining them!

I stay at CCCBA because…

Various areas of law are always evolving and CCCBA is a great resource for keeping up with those areas through various seminars and speakers that are offered throughout the year.

I am a Section Leader because…

I feel it is important for the law students at JFK University to be aware of CCCBA. It’s our greatest tool to help gain interest about various areas of the law and join other dedicated attorneys in the Contra Costa legal community.

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Taxation Section

Christina Ortega, Taxation Section Chair

Christina Ortega, Taxation Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA because…

I wanted to be a part of the legal community in Contra Costa County, and get to know other attorneys in the county where I reside.

I stay at CCCBA because…

It provides many opportunities to establish professional relationships and network with attorneys and other professionals in my community. The educational programs I have attended have been excellent, and have helped me in my practice.

I am a Section Leader because…

I want to contribute to the CCCBA community, promote the talented tax professionals in Contra Costa County, and have meaningful discussions and presentations on topics in my area of practice.

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West County Section

Doris Mitchell, West County Section Chair

Doris Mitchell, West County Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA…

To be part of a group of attorneys who appreciate the value that comes from the exchange of ideas and from the support of one another.

I stay at CCCBA because…

I have learned a lot from the educational events put on by the Bar Association and have met some great people.

I am a Section Leader because…

I hope to advance the idea that we are a community that can support one another in each other’s endeavors to ensure our own success and that of our clients.

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Women’s Section

Crystal Van Der Putten, Women's Section Chair

Crystal Van Der Putten, Women’s Section Chair

I initially joined CCCBA…

To connect with other attorneys in Contra Costa County and be involved in the local legal community.

I stay at CCCBA because…

Of the wonderful people I have met. It is a great organization that provides opportunities and support for its members.

I am a Section Leader because…

I saw an opportunity to make a difference. We have a phenomenal Women’s Section, which provides many benefits to its members—not the least of which is support for one another. I wanted to be a part of that at the leadership level.

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Learn more about each CCCBA section by visiting www.cccba.org/attorney/sections/.

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