Meet the 2018 Section Leaders

The CCCBA would like to introduce you to an extraordinary group of hardworking and dedicated individuals. In the following pages, they will tell you about their sections. This year they responded to one of the following questions: What do you do to give back? or What was your most rewarding or inspirational career moment?

For additional details about each section or for contact information for a particular section leader, please go to the CCCBA website at www.cccba.org/attorney/sections or contact Anne K. Wolf, CCCBA’s Education & Events Director at awolf@cccba.org, or (925) 370-2540.

ADR SECTION

Margaret Grover

Margaret Grover has more than 30 years of experience as an employment lawyer. She has been serving as a mediator for more than 15 years, and enjoys helping individuals, businesses, and litigants find solutions to their differences. In mediation, Maggie focuses on creating an atmosphere that is respectful of each participant’s perspective and abilities. She heads the employment law group at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean in Oakland. When she isn’t practicing law, Maggie can be found rowing near Jack London Square or biking (ever so slowly) up Mt. Diablo.

What do you do to give back?

Giving back enriches my life and makes me more thankful for the wonderful opportunities and people that have come my way. I participate in a monthly program to feed the hungry, where we set tables and feed the guests, and deliver sandwiches to some of the larger tent cities. I serve on several boards, including the historic Paramount Theatre and a pre-school that accepts children on a sliding scale basis, providing opportunities for children who might not otherwise have a solid educational foundation. I also try to give back to the legal community and litigants by serving as a Discovery Facilitator and ADR Panel Member for the Contra Costa Superior Court.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Section (ADR) includes both lawyers and non lawyers who participate in a variety of means of resolving disputes and are interested in finding new and better methods of resolving conflict. As courts become more congested, costs and delays associated with traditional litigation mount. 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.

APPELLATE SECTION

Gary Watt

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.

What do you do to give back?

Giving back is really an everyday thing. Kindness to those around us is an expression of gratitude for life’s blessings. Being available to those in need is an extension of that gratitude. For the past nine years, I’ve also been heavily involved in pro bono appeals.

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 credits, an extra benefit for attorneys who are, or are seeking to become, certified appellate specialists.

BANKRUPTCY LAW SECTION

Jen Lee

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 rescues to foster and find forever homes for shelter dogs.

What do you do to give back?

In addition to taking pro bono cases through various clinics, I also volunteer and fundraise for several local organizations. One of the biggest projects I am working on right now is for the Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance, where I currently serve as the Director of the Corporate Communications Committee and am involved with connecting corporate members and nonprofits for fundraising, joint programs, sponsorships, etc.

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 MCLE programs held at lunchtime at the CCCBA office conference room. At these luncheons, speakers discuss topics of interest to the bankruptcy bar. Speakers have included bankruptcy judges and trustees, private practice attorneys in the area, and other professionals.

BARRISTERS SECTION

Matthew Colliss

Matthew S. Colliss is a Family Law attorney located in downtown Walnut Creek. Going into his fourth year of practice, he continues to dedicate a portion of his work to pro bono work for clients in need. Matthew has recently completed a 40-hour mediation training program and hopes to begin a mediation practice to compliment his family law practice. When not working, he enjoys boating with his family including his two young sons in the summers, and snowmobiling in the winters with friends.

What do you do to give back?

I like to take on pro bono cases as much as my schedule and finances permit so that I can give back to our community. It is very rewarding for me to see the benefit of my representation for those in need. I feel that it is an obligation for me since I have been so fortunate in my practice and providing this service is a small token of my appreciation.

The Barristers/Young Lawyers Section provides recently-admitted attorneys with networking, education, and mentoring opportunities. All CCCBA members with fewer than ten years of practice are automatically members of the section and are welcome to attend the meetings of the Section’s Board to become more involved.

The goal of the section is to build a network within the bar association, develop familiarity with all aspects of the legal field and to help new attorneys with their burgeoning legal careers. The section helps its members develop a deep 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.

The Barristers Section creates MCLE events targeted to recently-admitted attorneys, engages in charitable endeavors and organizes social events that allow new lawyers to grow their network of peers, potential mentors, and judicial officers.

BUSINESS LAW SECTION

Luis Montes

Luis M. Montes is a solo practitioner. His focus is in representing small and closely held businesses. He is starting his 10th year of law practice. Prior to law school, Luis owned and ran a construction company, which gives him an intimate view of his client’s perspective of the law. As incoming Business Section Leader, he is looking forward to working with the membership to continue the section’s mission.

What was your most rewarding or inspirational career moment?

My most rewarding career moment was receiving my “bar” card; it fulfilled a long held goal of joining the noble fraternity of lawyers and giving me the ability to protect my clients in the legal process.

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 in 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 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. It assists members in the development and support of their practices in business and corporation law. The section provides educational service to the general public with occasional public seminars such as the “Two Entrepreneurs Walk Into a Bar” series. Please contact Luis Montes or other section members about specific areas that are important to you and your clients.

CRIMINAL LAW SECTION

Joseph Tully

Joseph Tully was admitted into the State Bar of California in June 1999, was hired by the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office and has been practicing criminal law ever since. He is a certified specialist in criminal law by the State Bar of California’s Board of Specialization and is a fierce advocate for the accused. A founding partner of Tully & Weiss Attorneys at Law, he has been highly successful in jury trials throughout the state.

What was your most rewarding career moment?

My most rewarding career moments have been achieving full acquittals for those that were wrongly accused of serious charges.

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. Additionally, 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.

ELDER LAW SECTION

Konstantine Demiris

Konstantine Demiris is a California kid, son of hard-working Greek-immigrants, who “lived the dream” and went to Cal. Through cosmic circumstances he was able to try-out and walk-on the football team as a placekicker. He went to law school at Santa Clara, passed the bar exam, and has been practicing law for over 12-years now. He founded the Demiris Law Firm, P.C. in Walnut Creek which handles elder law and litigation matters. He encourages anyone interested in elder law to join the Elder Law Section and/or attend the Elder Law Section MCLE’s or functions (there will be many) offered in 2018. This practice area is surrounded by great lawyers and a great bench.

What do you do to give back?

I don’t really consider it giving back as much as just trying to do my part to help make the world a better place. Like most lawyers, I donate a lot of time to pro bono efforts. I also work with charitable and government organizations. I participate in matters that are important to me such as being on the board of directors for Mobility Matters in Contra Costa County, serving as a volunteer police academy member, and also volunteering at my church.

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.

Elder Law section board meetings take place at Noon on the first Wednesday of every month at the Demiris Law Firm, 700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Suite 140, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. There are currently two vacancies. People who are interested in joining the board should contact Konstantine or any of the board members.

EMPLOYMENT LAW SECTION

Mukesh Advani

Mukesh Advani is Of Counsel to Dental & Medical Counsel, PC and practices in the areas of general civil litigation with emphasis on employment litigation, insurance coverage disputes and “bad faith” litigation for policyholders and appellate law. In his more than three decades of law practice, Mukesh has represented many institutional clients, including Fortune 500 companies, and individual clients in several hundred cases in both federal and state trial and appellate courts. He is included in the 2014 and 2015 edition of the Northern California Super Lawyers.

What do you do to give back?

I have always been passionate about making legal services available to those who cannot afford them. In the past, I held free legal clinics at a Hindu Temple where members of the community would come and ask me questions about their legal problems after offering their prayers. I set up a “Lawyers in the Library” program at the India Community Center in Milpitas, which has been expanded to other locations. I led a team of attorneys and law student volunteers to establish a 24-hour hate crime hotline to assist victims of hate crimes, harassment, and discrimination. I am the founder and past-president of the original South Asian Bar Association (SABA) in Northern California which led to the formation of dozens of SABA chapters across North America with thousands of members today.

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 hopes to be 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.

If would like to become a member or learn more about this section, please contact Mukesh.

ESTATE PLANNING & PROBATE SECTION

Virginia George

Virginia M. George is a partner at George & Schofield, 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 JFKU College of Law, teaching evidence, criminal procedure and wills and trusts. While at JFKU, she supervised their 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.

What do you do to give back?

I am a member of a non-profit board which raises money through local concerts to donate funds to the public school music programs in Martinez. It is very rewarding to promote kids participating in all sorts of music programs such as concert and marching band, jazz band and orchestra. Our support has really made a positive impact for keeping these valuable programs alive in the schools.

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 our programs. Our programs begin in January each year at the Contra Costa Country Club with the annual Probate Bench Luncheon.

Every year since 1994 our section, with co-sponsorship of The Mechanics Bank’s Trust Department, has presented an Annual Estate Planning Symposium in the spring. The event draws counsel, educators, and professionals to present topics of current interest to the Bar, tax professionals and students. We are pleased to present this program with availability of specialization credit.

Board members and section liaisons 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 as a regular Platinum level sponsor of “The Bar Fund.”
The section is broadly based among probate, estate planning, conservatorship, guardianship, and trust practitioners. We strive to present opportunities for members to obtain MCLE credits at programs that address all of these areas of practice and welcome suggestions from our membership.

FAMILY LAW SECTION

Anne Cochran Freeman

Anne Cochran Freeman is a part-ner at Sideman & Bancroft, LLP, and is certified by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS). In 2015-2017 she was recognized by Super Lawyers and as one of the Top Women Attorneys in Northern California. Anne represents and advises high-net-worth clients in family law matters, specializing in contentious child custody disputes, and complex financial issues. Prior to joining Sideman & Bancroft, Anne was at Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel LLP in Walnut Creek.

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
  • Practice requirements in 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.
  • In Chancery, the Family Law Section’s monthly newsletter 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 Family Law Section maintains ongoing liaisons 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 the creation of or changes to rules and/or policies. The Family Law Section has a long and respected history of robust, current programming in the form of monthly luncheon CLEs, mentoring/networking group evening presentations with speakers, Custody Issues Committee (CIC) brown bag CLE programs on child custody-related hot topics, and more.

IMMIGRATION LAW SECTION

Flavio Carvalho

Flavio Carvalho practices Immigration and Family Law. From his office in the San Francisco financial district, he represents clients throughout the Bay Area. He has an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and his J.D. from John F. Kennedy University. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen and a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so his experience with immigration is personal. He is a Fellow of the ABA Family Section and member of the ABA Diversity Committee.

What do you do to give back?

I strive to be the best advocate for my clients, I share useful information with the public though free workshops, and I invest in causes I believe in.
Immigration Law Section. Immigration is as old as America itself and the United States remains the number-one destination for immigrants from all over the world. Immigration attorneys represent them and/or their employers, schools, or family members.

The 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 also assists attorneys in the overlap between Immigration law and other practices – e.g., employment, juvenile, family, criminal, business & estate planning and probate. Finally, our section works to promote events and programs that make Immigration Law accessible to those who need it.

CCCBA holds monthly immigration workshops at local libraries. If you are interested in volunteering for one of the workshops please contact Anne Wolf, Education and Events Director, at awolf@cccba.org or (925) 370-2540.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW SECTION

Joseph R. Snyder

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. Joe 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. He was recognized as a 2014, 2015 and 2016 Northern California “Super Lawyer” in the area of intellectual property.

Before joining the firm, Joe worked as a patent attorney for Zeneca Ag Products. Prior to joining the legal profession, he was a senior scientist in their analytical department.

What do you do to give back?

The Walnut Creek Office performs pro bono services for a number of organizations located in the East Bay. I personally give pro bono advice and counsel to veterans of our military. I am the delegate to the JPO/US Bar Liaison Council representing CCCBA.

Stuart West

Stuart West formed West & Associates in February 2004 and is the 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, Stuart’s 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. As the head of the CCCBA’s IP Section for the past several years, Stuart 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.

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.

JUVENILE LAW SECTION

Rhonda Wilson-Rice

Rhonda Wilson-Rice has been practicing law in Contra Costa County for over 25 years. Her practice serves the families and children in the community, primarily in Juvenile Dependency (CPS cases). As of July 1, 2017, Contra Costa Juvenile Advocates (CCJA) has taken over the contract for Court Appointed Juvenile Dependency Cases and as of August 14, 2017 all juvenile cases (with the exception of Juvenile Hall) were moved to the courthouse in Walnut Creek. Many of the members of the Juvenile Law Section are independent contractors with CCJA.

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 our 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 our clients. Speakers include experienced attorneys, therapists, and other professionals, besides fulfilling state bar requirements, these programs go towards meeting the local court rules for mandatory competence of counsel.

During the holiday season, the section sponsors an annual toy drive for foster children and provides gift cards to teen clients who are placed in Group Homes within the county. Members participate in meetings between the bench, Social Services, CCJA, Social Worker-Attorney Training Committee (SWATT) and through representation at the “Judges’ Meeting.”

LAW STUDENT SECTION

Kate Mignani

Kate Mignani is a second-year law student at John F. Kennedy University where she is on the Dean’s list and is a Witkin award recipient. She currently works full-time as a paralegal and certified law student for Edrington, Schirmer & Murphy LLP in Pleasant Hill and recently was awarded one of the Honorable Patricia Herron and Honorable Ellen James scholarships by the CCCBA’s Women’s Section.

What do you do to give back?

I give back is by serving on the board of New Day for Children, a non-profit that helps girls who have been rescued from human trafficking.

 

Lisa Antoine

Lisa Antoine is a second-year law student at John F. Kennedy University. Lisa is on the Dean’s list and is a Witkin Award recipient. She has worked in emergency services (police and medical) for over 13 years. She is also a certified EMT.

What do you do to give back?

I volunteer in several ways including Medical Volunteers for Disaster Response (MVDR), food drives to fight hunger both locally and overseas, and for various fundraising causes I am passionate about.

 

Richard Rose

Richard Rose is a Bay Area native, who was raised in Alameda County and has been living in Contra Costa County since the early 1990’s. He learned Spanish in his 20s, guitar in his 30s , and now he’s studying law at John F. Kennedy University in his 40s. Rich’s late father, an immigration attorney who also went to law school in his forties, taught him to be very independent. This independence which once got him in trouble now comes in useful when approaching the study of law. All the children in his family are adopted, so they are always one of the most multicultural families around. Rich enjoys keeping fit by hiking with his son and dog, playing soccer in a few leagues and training in CrossFit.

What do you do to give back?

I think of life more in the mindset of paying it forward. Do the right thing even when no one is looking. Reach out a hand, help those in need, give them the same you’d give a friend and loved one. Invest in the world, reap what you sow.

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 John F. Kennedy University 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 law school and real life practice opportunities through mentorship, internships, and networking events. Suggestions for presentation topics or student-related activities are welcomed and encouraged. Please contact the section co-chairs.

LITIGATION SECTION

Leonard Marquez

Leonard E. Marquez is a civil litigation attorney with the law firm of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP in Oakland. Leonard’s 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. Leonard has represented commercial landlords in all manner of commercial lease disputes, including tenant evictions and breach of lease claims. He serves as counsel to BayLUG, a Bay Area based Lego hobbyist club, as well as Bricks by the Bay, an organization that hosts an annual convention for LEGO builders and fans.

What was your most inspirational career moment?

My most inspirational career moment was the first time that I argued a summary judgment motion for which I was the lead attorney and solely responsible for litigating before the court. I recall that the tentative ruling initially went against my client and at oral argument I had to persuade the court to rethink its tentative ruling which focused on a potential defense which was, in truth, not a bar to the summary judgment sought. The court reversed itself and granted summary judgment, a huge win for my client. The experience was a milestone for me as a lawyer and reinforced my belief that careful, thoughtful advocacy will generally win the day!

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 holds programs of interest for civil practitioners of all experience levels and abilities. In past years, the Litigation Section has sponsored presentations on 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.

REAL ESTATE SECTION

Marcus Brown

Marcus Brown is a real estate and litigation attorney, representing real estate investors, managers, lenders, homeowners, and contractors in dispute resolution and litigation in state and federal court. Marcus also handles real estate buy-sell, financing, and leasing transactions. He attended Middle Tennessee State University and Seattle University School of Law. Marcus worked for Plastiras & Terrizzi (San Rafael) and Wolfe & Wyman (Irvine/Walnut Creek) before starting his own practice in Walnut Creek in 2015.

What was your most rewarding or inspirational career moment?

I had the opportunity to handle a mortgage banking case which became landmark precedent for the mortgage servicing industry in California during the Great Recession. It was rewarding to help shape a developing area of law that was so fundamental to what was happening in the economy at the time. On the flip side of that coin, I’ve been able to help save clients’ family homes on a few occasions, twice from pending foreclosures and once post-foreclosure. Most of my work is investor or business-related, so I’m thankful for opportunities to assist individuals and families in a meaningful way.

The Real Estate Section offers monthly breakfast MCLE programs free to section members and open to other members of the CCCBA 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. Our section is also proud to make annual charitable contributions to various groups and interests.

This section meets the third Friday of most months. 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 SECTION

Chris Schneider

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.

What was your most rewarding or inspirational career moment?

I had a client who very much wanted to get married to a longtime partner. The client had been given incorrect information on a number of issues. I was able to clarify these issues and the client ended up getting married and was so thankful for my involvement.

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 John F. Kennedy University College of Law allows members to have cost-effective and convenient access to legal resources through full use of the campus library. Solo Section members have access to an email listserv and receive an email newsletter, The Maverick, informing them of upcoming events and providing topical articles and a forum for comment.

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. 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.

TAXATION SECTION

Christina Weed

Christina Weed (JD, LLM – Taxation) is the principal attorney at the Law Offices of Christina Weed, PC, located in Walnut Creek. Her primary practice areas are tax law, estate planning, and business law. Christina has served as the Chair of the Tax Section since 2013. Christina lives in Danville with her spouse Dave, her daughter Liana (LiLi), and her two dogs.

What do you do to give back?

I am the Chair of the Taxation Section; on the board of the Women’s Section; and on the Editorial Board for the magazine.

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 members on tax issues relevant to each section. Speakers at events have included ranking members of the IRS, the Franchise Tax Board, 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 attend one of its luncheon meetings. Affiliate membership is open to accounting practitioners only.

WEST COUNTY SECTION

2018 Section Leader – IT COULD BE YOU!

The West County Section reestablished the connection between CCCBA members in West County that had been missing since the West County Bar Association was consolidated with the Contra Costa and Mt. Diablo 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. CCCBA members from all practice areas are encouraged to join.

WOMEN’S SECTION

Ariel Brownell Lee

Ariel Brownell Lee has a boutique family law practice in Walnut Creek. She is very active in both the legal community and her local community. This year, Ariel serves as President of the CCCBA Women’s section, Affiliate Governor for Contra Costa on the California Women Lawyer’s (CWL) board, and as a delegate of the Conference of California Bar Associations. Ariel lives in Oakland with her husband where she is active with her local government.
What was your most rewarding or inspirational career moment?

I am constantly inspired by the hard work and dedication I see exhibited by my friends and colleagues in this county. It pushes me to work harder and strive to be a better lawyer and better community member.

The Women’s Section has been a strong presence in CCCBA for over 26 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. The section gratefully accepts 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 the president.

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