My firm is focused on helping people resolve disputes in their personal and business lives.
I have been specifically trained in mediation and collaborative practice methods. I can use my skills in mediation, collaborative practice or litigation to help people settle their disputes.
I have received specialized training in Limited Scope Representation ("unbundled" services), which can benefit clients.
On the personal side, I can help people who are facing the dissolution of a marriage or need to work out issues relating to parenting, support or division of property.
I also handle cases involving guardianship, conservatorship or adoption.
On the business side, I can help business owners who want contracts or agreements prepared or reviewed, or who have disputes with others. I have extensive experience in the area of construction and have handled disputes in real estate sales transactions.
I have over 27 years of experience in handling cases that have resulted in a lawsuit. That experience gives me the ability to assess the facts and law as it relates to a client's particular situation. I believe that resolving cases without going to trial is generally in the client's best interest. But if it is not possible to resolve a case short of trial, I have proven to be effective in the courtroom.
I can also help people try to avoid disputes by careful drafting of agreements.
I started my firm in Napa County in August 2006, after spending twenty-five years working in small law firms, handling a variety of litigated matters. I opened my own firm so that I could enjoy a better quality of life, limit the amount of time I spent commuting and traveling and spend more time helping clients, doing volunteer work and giving back to the community (my community involvement is described below).
My office is in St. Helena, California but I can meet clients anywhere in Napa or Sonoma County.
Family law: A woman came to me to have a support judgment overturned in which she had waived continuing child support. Husband had signed over the title to a community property house in lieu of continuing child support. Husband told Wife that he had not taken any equity out of the house prior to signing it over to her. This was not true. The judgment on the child support waiver was set aside. The court ordered Husband to pay back-support and continuing child support for the couple's three children.
Non-family law: Construction related dispute involving numerous professionals, with questions of why the construction had gone wrong. Case was resolved after full day of settlement talks with all parties.
1303 Jefferson Street
Napa CA 94559
I do not give free in-office consultations. Please ask me about the "Nolo discount" for the initial in-office consultation.
I will talk to prospective clients on the telephone to briefly discuss their legal needs. This would include discussion of whether collaborative resolution or mediation is possible for the parties involved. There is no charge for this, however I do not give legal advice over the telephone.
I do not have fixed price fees. I charge on an hourly basis.
Monday through Friday
9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Family Law: Family law involves interesting legal issues. More importantly, the family is the foundation upon which a person's ability to navigate in the world is based. Helping couples resolve their differences in a respectful way, that does the least amount of harm to their loved ones (i.e., children or extended family members) can help people survive a difficult period in their lives.
Business Law: Resolving disputes efficiently (or preventing them through good, thorough drafting of agreements) keeps businesses running smoothly, which benefits the owners, employees and the community at large.
I have represented people in cases where the parties disagreed about the meaning of language in written document. Because of that, I am a careful drafter of documents and have a broad background in interpreting documents.
Running a business is much like being in a family and the legal issues that arise are interesting and challenging.
The internet is a wonderful tool and there are many free web sites that provide basic, background information. I strongly encourage clients to educate themselves about the basics so that they can better understand legal principles.
For example, a couple contemplating a divorce, or trying to determine a parenting plan can go to the Napa County Superior Court website. There is a link to the California Courts Self-Help Center which answers frequently asked questions in a divorce case.
Self-education can result in the client saving money in attorneys' fees.
I am happy to review documents prepared by clients. In fact, I encourage clients to prepare a rough draft of a document. For example, an Income and Expense statement or Schedule of Assets and Debts used in a family law case can easily be prepared by the client. If done properly, this can save the client money in legal fees.
I am willing to do this. I have received specialized training in Limited Scope Representation ( "unbundled" legal services).
For the last 25 years, I worked in small law firms. I started with a very small firm in Southern California, where I represented car dealers and car dealer associations.
In 1983, I started working for small firms that represented clients who were insured by various insurance companies. The cases I handled involved people who suffered monetary losses, property damage or personal injury because of some event such as an auto accident, work site accident, ownership of real property or construction related problems.
I practiced law in Southern California from 1981 until January 1998, when I moved back to Northern California. Since moving back to Northern California, I have handled the same types of cases, including fire and water loss cases.
I paid for my own education by working part-time through high school, college and law school. I attended small schools where I received individual attention when I wanted it.
Before graduating from law school, I was fortunate to have people in my life (through school, social activities and jobs) who were good mentors. Those people took the time to listen to my questions and give thoughtful answers.
After graduating from law school and starting to work as an attorney, I was again fortunate to work for bright and active lawyers who were interested in training me for the future.
I have a long history of volunteering to help others, beginning in 1981 and continuing to the present time.
I had an early opportunity to take on a leadership role in professional and community organizations such as the Pasadena Bar Association, Pasadena Young Lawyers, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Pasadena YMCA, Pasadena University Club, and Pasadena Junior Chamber of Commerce between 1981 to 1998.
Since moving back to Northern California, I have continued to participate in professional and community organizations such as the Napa County Bar Association, Napa County Women Lawyers, Napa County Collaborative Practice Group, and Napa Sunrise Rotary. I have served on the Executive Committee for the Napa County Bar Association, as Secretary for Napa County Women Lawyers and am currently the Secretary of Napa County Collaborative Practice Group. I served as Vocational Director for Napa Sunrise Rotary for the 2007-2008 term.
I have taught classes at Empire College of Law (1998 to 2002).
Since 2001, I have been an attorney coach for the Napa High School Mock Trial team. Every year, I work with 12-18 high school students from October through March teaching trial techniques and skills in persuasive argument.
I also act as a Peer Court Mentor in Napa County, working with at least one high school student per year.
Working with high school students is one of the ways I give back to the community. The students have to stretch their learning muscles to take in new and different information, which helps them gain confidence in their abilities. They must learn to think on their feet and have poise in what they do. They learn responsibility for their role on the team. This experience enriches my life because the students are eager to learn, and are typically happy that an adult (other than a parent or teacher) is taking the time to work with them. This experience also teaches great patience.
Finally, I have experience in trying cases to verdict or judgment. I have tried approximately 30 cases to verdict or judgment in various counties in California.
I have mediated approximately 400 cases over the past 25 years. I have acted as an Arbitrator as well. I have also taken or defended approximately 500 depositions over the past 25 years.
I have conducted over 30 civil trials (judge or jury) over the past 25 years. This experience gives me the ability to see the "big picture" of the issue before me, and I know how to focus on the small details that can affect the outcome.
I am good communicator with clients, other counsel and judges or juries.
I am not afraid to have the hard conversations that sometimes involve telling a client what he or she doesn't want to hear.
If the case has to go to trial, I know how to focus on the important details and do the appropriate legal and factual research.
I can provide a budget of anticipated fees and costs to help the client weigh the options and make a decision of how best to proceed.
Gardening and cooking. I maintain a (mostly) organic vegetable garden, from which I make my own pasta sauce.
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