I opened the firm in 1987 with two former public defenders. The firm has evolved over time and currently consists of the principal attorney (Me) and two associates (Michael Hess and Mary Tollefson).
Our firm heavily concentrates on family law with a sub-concentration on grandparent/third-party custody and visitation rights. The civil practice focuses on civil rights (lawsuits against State and public entities), legal malpractice and employment discrimination. Of the state court practice, about 60% of the cases are in Multnomah County; 20% in Washington and Clackamas Counties. Our federal practice includes civil rights cases on behalf of children and injured parties (diversity jurisdiction). I regularly serve as an arbitrator for Multnomah County Circuit Court. I am a sole proprietor and the managing attorney of a practice that employs two associates and four support staff.
In the case of Fellows v. Coombs (Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 9909-09837), two young children who were wards of the court were returned to the physical custody of a mildly mentally retarded mother and a violent and abusive father. Father was removed after committing further abuse against mother, and mother was left to cope with two young children, and then became pregnant with her third child. For over a year, the court had no notice of the developments of the case and five DHS caseworkers came and went, each of them mishandling the case. Ultimately, the mother killed her baby daughter in the presence of her young son. Associating with attorney Elden Rosenthal, we brought a civil rights and negligence suit against the Department of Human Services and the caseworkers involved, and as well against the children's attorney. The case was ultimately settled for $1.3 million dollars ($1 million against DHS), the highest recorded settlement against DHS. As part of the settlement, DHS agreed to (and has) radically reformed their policies in these types of cases. After the case, I drafted legislation exempting minor children from having to give a tort claims notice to the State, when the State is the custodian of the children, and such legislation was enacted. The case required a strong knowledge of the juvenile court system, social service system, civil rights, and negligence law. Notwithstanding the tragic circumstances of the case, the end result was a substantial fund set up for the surviving child, important changes to DHS' policies and a small but important change in Oregon's tort claims notice law.
In another recent case, I represented a maternal grandmother pro bono (without charge). Her daughter had been killed in a drive-by shooting. The father of three of the grandchildren was blinded. I helped grandmother obtain custody of all four of her grandchildren, including prevailing over the objections of one of the birth father's who had alienated his son.
520 SW 6th Ave.
Portland OR 97204
charge $100 for an initial consultation for up to one hour.
Generally, clients sign a retainer based upon an hourly rate. The retainer is to cover anticipated attorney fees and costs.
$225 to $300 per hour.
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Office Manager: John Lusk, Lead Paralegal: Debbie Hake.
I was drawn to family law because of the day-to-day interactions with people and the courts. I was able to use my strengths, oral advocacy, analysis of issues, and bargaining, best in this type of practice.
I fully support clients educating themselves on legal issues. I was co-founder of the Domestic Relations Alliance of Mediators and Attorneys. I regularly meet with clients who are resolving their matters through mediation and without formal representation by attorneys. I do believe that there needs to be at least some legal counseling to ensure that self-help efforts address all issues and so that the client is aware of the ramifications and limitations of any self-help agreements or orders.
I am very willing to review documents prepared by potential clients and offer constructive feedback where appropriate.
I am very willing to advise clients who want to represent themselves. Part of such advice is whether the case is appropriate for self-representation and if so, at what point formal counsel may be needed.
• 1981-1984: Staff Attorney at Metropolitan Public Defenders, Portland, OR.
• 1984-1987: Staff Attorney at St. Andrew Legal Clinic, Portland, OR.
• 1987-1987: Co-Counsel Committee at Oregon Senate Judiciary, Salem, OR.
• 1987-Present: Principal at Kramer & Associates, Portland, OR.
(Previously Operated as Simon, Kramer & Fithian-Barrett; Simon, Kramer and Toth-Fejel; and Kramer & Toth-Fejel)
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York , the product of a divorced, working class family. Part of my time was spent living in the New York City projects among extremely poor and working class people, doing their best to survive. I was instilled with a strong work ethic and a commitment to make the world a better place. I have attempted to do that in my professional, political, and personal life, and I see a seat on the bench as a natural continuation of that path.
My three years at St. Andrew Legal Clinic (1984 to 1987) gave me a window to observe the impact and importance of family law into people's lives, and how lawyers can make an important difference in such cases.
My strengths are strong oral advocacy, focus, and detailed analysis of what is most important in a client's case. My style is aggressive and effective. I work extremely hard to get a fair settlement for clients whenever possible and when not possible, litigate vigorously their cause in the courts.Personal interests:
I enjoy cycling (I ride my bicycle to work daily), hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and politics.
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