The Law Offices of Christopher P. Ayayo

We Mean Business,Wills & Trusts: Planning, Administration and Litigation

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Firm Overview

We established our firm after moving to Southern California from the Bay Area in July of 1997. I was an associate in the San Francisco offices of two large law firms, and my partner, Deborah Young, worked as an associate at two small firms and as in-house counsel at a privately-held company with over 150 employees. Based on these experiences, and our own personal goals, we decided that the best way to practice law was to open our own practice so we could work with our own clients on matters that were professionally and personally satisfying to us. As lawyers, our main goal is to establish long-lasting relationships with our clients and help them through the good times and the bad. After all is said and done, we want to be remembered as the lawyers who made positive differences in people's lives.

We focus on providing the highest level of service to our clients because our success depends upon your success. The firm typically represents entrepreneurs and companies who actively manage their business and strive to be the best in their fields. We provide a wide range of business services from formation to transactional matters to litigation. Although we are lawyers, we are also entrepreneurs in our own right, and understand that sometimes the best legal solution does not make the most business sense. We also represent individuals in disputes involving contracts, insurance issues, homeowners' associations and other torts.

For our estate planning clients, our goal is to help you formulate a cohesive strategy for your own estate that we can then document and execute on. We provide counsel on issues such as succession planning for family businesses, and counsel clients on how they can best achieve their objectives while treating all interested parties fairly. After our estate planning clients go to their "great reward," we stand ready to administer and defend their estates in court. We represent executors and trustees, as well as beneficiaries and other interested parties, in an estate's administration. This can include, where necessary, litigation.

Example cases

Breach of Contract - Equipment Lease
I successfully handled a five-day trial involving interpretation of a lease of restaurant equipment (approx. $500,000). We defeated the plaintiff's claims, and prevailed on our cross-complaint and established that plaintiff had committed fraud in negotiating the transaction. The Court awarded us approximately $200,000 in attorney's fees (100% of our fees were awarded, while less than 50% of the prior counsel's fees were awarded), which we collected in full by levying on plaintiff's corporate bank account.

Probate/Trust:
I handled the administration of a multimillion dollar probate and trust estate in Beverly Hills. I successfully defeated multiple lawsuits filed against the estate in an effort to thwart the decedent's estate plan. I also ensured that all beneficiaries of the estate received their bequests, including a multi-million dollar gift to the UCLA Foundation.

Corporate Breakup:
I handled a wrongful termination/corporate breakup litigation regarding a multimillion dollar family-owned company. This included three civil lawsuits and multiple trust petitions in court. On the day of trial, the plaintiff requested mediation which ultimately led to a global settlement. The plaintiff waived his $4,000,000 claim against the company and its officers and directors and accepted a discounted buyout price for his interest in the family trust.

Main Office

Main
940 South Coast Drive
Suite 100
Costa Mesa  CA  92626

Phone
  • (949) 612-0340
Fax
  • (949) 612-0341

Fees

Free Initial Consultation?

We offer a free initial consultation of up to one hour for potential clients. During this initial consultation, we will discuss the general nature of the matter with you, review the basic facts and explain how we may be of assistance.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?

I often quote fixed fees for estate planning services after our initial consultation. The range for such services is between $2,500 and $5,000, and includes whatever is necessary to ensure that your plan is complete. Fees for transactional matters can sometimes be charged based on a fixed percentage of the value of the transaction. I am also willing to consider handling litigation on a contingency, partial contingency or alternative fee arrangement depending on the nature of the matter.

WillMaker Document Review:
I charge $300 to review documents prepared by WillMaker.

Hourly Rates

$300 to $350 per hour depending on the engagement.

Office Information

Office Hours

Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment

Emergency After Hours

Yes

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

I have always been an entrepreneur, so it was logical that I specialize in business law. I started working as a litigator, as that came easily to me in law school. Because business litigation typically involves a transaction or business that failed, I learned what pitfalls to avoid. The wills and trusts practice developed as my business clients became increasingly successful and increasingly aware that they needed to plan for the future.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

Clients should educate themselves on legal issues so that they can work with their attorney to create a viable, constructive solution to whatever issue they face. In my experience, clients who educate themselves on legal issues and have a strong grasp of the facts of their case enjoy better outcomes and encounter fewer problems along the way. I think this is similar to when I go to a doctor for treatment - I read up on whatever illness or problem I am experiencing and make sure I am clear on the specific facts concerning the onset of my symptoms so that I can have a meaningful discussion with the doctor about my condition and possible courses of treatment. This level of knowledge also helps me build a better relationship with my doctor.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I am always willing to review documents prepared by clients, and often find that the effort they put into drafting these documents helps them better understand what they are trying to achieve. As your lawyer, my job is to make sure those documents are clear and comprehensive enough to be enforceable and provide adequate protection if that "worst case scenario" unfolds. Therefore, I am willing to provide clients with my own suggestions and input regarding documents they have prepared.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

I am willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves. In many situations, disputes can be resolved in small claims court or another venue where an attorney may not be allowed to appear on the client's behalf, or would simply be too expensive given the amount in controversy. Clients who have handled matters with my help usually have two reactions - (1) that was fun, especially since I got a good outcome; and (2) I wouldn't want to do that for a living as it can also be pretty nerve-racking. On several occasions, clients have told me that they were glad they paid me for a few hours of preparation, as the other side just tried to go into court and "wing it" and failed miserably.

Christopher P. Ayayo

After I finished my first year of law school, I was a law clerk for the San Francisco City Attorney's Office in their litigation section. I was exposed to all aspects of litigation, and actually assisted with a multi-day jury trial during my first two weeks on the job. Following my second year, I joined Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, an international law firm, as a summer law clerk. During my third year of law school, I externed for the Presiding Justice for the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, where I assisted with the researching and drafting of appellate opinions. After graduation, I worked as a business litigation associate at Sedgwick for two years, tried several cases, and argued an appeal before the First District Court of Appeal. After Sedgwick, I spent about one year in the San Francisco office of the firm now known as Nossaman, LLP working on business litigation and transactional matters. In addition to our current firm, I also co-founded and ran a start-up fabless semiconductor company, and was an operating partner in a restaurant. Both of those companies were bought out. I was also an adjunct Professor of Law for First Year Legal Research and Writing/Moot Court at Whittier Law School for two years, and am considering getting back into teaching law part-time.

Growing up as one of the few minorities in my community made me work even harder to prove to others that I belonged. Whether it was becoming a captain of my high school football team, the lead in the school play, or a successful student, I have always strived for excellence. This dedication has translated well into my legal career and life in general.

I am an able communicator and feel comfortable trying a case before a jury or making an important presentation to a board of directors. I have strong legal skills, and strive to put out the best work product possible, whether it's a trial brief, contract, or estate plan. I try to avoid legalese and keep things as simple and direct as possible. I will always give my clients my honest opinion, even if it's something they might not want to hear, because that's my job. And I try to laugh and smile as much as possible, because if you're not enjoying what you're doing, you're doing something wrong.

Personal interests:

I enjoy spending time with my family and being there for my children's activities, whether it's sports or school. I also like computers and technology, fitness, poker, and cooking.

License
  • Bar Number: 172594
    California , 1994
Education
  • University of California - Hastings College of the Law
    Juris Doctor , 1994
    San Francisco, CA
  • Rutgers College
    Joint B.A., History and Political Science, Double Minor in Philosophy and Economics , 1991
    New Brunswick, NJ
    Forum Editor, The Rutgers Review

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