Conner, Lawrence & Rodney, LLP

MaryClare is the author of "Estate Planning Should Not be a Near-Death Experience," now available from the office or at Amazon.com

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Firm Overview

Located at the Collaborative Practice Center in Santa Rosa, Conner, Lawrence & Rodney is the leading firm in Sonoma County that focuses on achieving our clients' goals in a respectful, supportive, courteous and honorable fashion. Three of our five attorneys offer litigation services to our clients. All of our attorneys offer a complete range of problem-solving strategies, especially mediation and Collaborative Practice. We focus on Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills, post-death estate administration, and all types of Family Law.

Conner, Lawrence & Rodney has been in Sonoma County since 1983. MaryClare joined the firm in 1985. We have been told by clients that we are a truly different kind of law firm because we really listen to our clients and work hard to avoid litigation. Our goal is to create "win-win" solutions that resolve existing disputes and avoid future disputes by careful planning.

Example cases

I work with all kinds of families. I recently helped a couple on their second marriage set up an estate plan that provided for their separate children, step-children, and grandchildren of all kinds. I encourage parents to talk to their children (when appropriate) about what the parents want to achieve with their estate plan.

I have worked with many families who have a disabled family member whose assets need to be protected with a Special Needs Trust.

For people who wish to make charitable gifts, I help them figure out how to make the gifts in a tax-efficient manner that allows them input into how their gift is used.

Main Office

Main
829 Sonoma Avenue
Collaborative Practice Center
Santa Rosa  CA  95404

Phone
  • (707) 523-0480
Fax
  • (707) 523-2937

Fees

Free Initial Consultation?

Free half hour estate planning consultation. Not applicable for trust administrations, will contests, or other matters.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?

I usually charge a flat fee for estate plans. In 2013, most of these were in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. I give a firm quote at the end of my first meeting with a client.

Hourly Rates

$330 per hour.

Office Information

Office Hours

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

Early morning appointments easily available..

Office Manager

Joanne Richard at (707) 523-0480 ext. 126.

Emergency After Hours

No

Languages Spoken

English, Latin (at least I'm working on it!)

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

I spent a long time going to court with people who wanted a judge to right a wrong or solve a problem. No matter how good the result in court, people were still hurt, bruised and demeaned by the process. Now I love working with people to create a legacy for their families and the world. I help them anticipate problems and solve them before they get nasty. My clients are in control, not a judge. My clients appreciate me, and are delighted to have tackled the uncomfortable issues of money and dying, and come out of it successful and unscathed.

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

I think it's great!

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

When I review an estate plan prepared by a client, or by another lawyer, there are two issues. First, is the document legal? That question can be answered fairly easily. The second question is whether the document actually achieves this client's goals and is appropriate for this client given his or her assets and family situation. I can't answer that question without knowing the client's total financial and family situation. Because I need so much information, and require so much time to get to know the client and understand his or her situation, reviewing documents is often nearly as expensive as drafting them myself. I don't like to do it.

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

If this question refers to litigation, I don't do litigation anymore, either in person or by proxy. I work to help people avoid litigation.

Maryclare Lawrence

I have been a partner at Conner, Lawrence & Rodney in Santa Rosa since 1985. Before my legal career, I waited tables, sold books, ran a college dormitory, worked in a library, and been a camp counselor.

After 28 years of practicing law, I've seen a lot of what works and what doesn't work. I've seen families pull together after a death and families tear themselves apart. I know that the most important thing for most people is their families, and I focus on families in my estate planning practice. At 56, I'm the parent of two teenagers. As a parent, I've learned patience, perseverance, flexibility, openness, and how to admit when I'm wrong. I can't imagine being a lawyer without those qualities and that experience. In my pre-lawyer life, I worked as a waitress, hostess, book seller, camp counselor, dormitory manager, research assistant, and dishwasher. I prefer what I'm doing now, and I'm glad I had those experiences.

My strength is in my enthusiasm and brains. I like to have fun, in my work as in the rest of my life. I find Estate Planning fun, and I make sure my clients have that experience also. I am down to earth and easy to understand. I'm a Sonoma County lawyer.

Personal interests:

I love to read history and biography and novels. At home, I like to cook, garden and ride my lawn tractor. I spend as much time as I can with my teenagers. I am very interested in the environment, especially the Laguna de Santa Rosa. I like to hike, camp, watch movies that go "bang" and work out.

License
  • Bar Number: 104616
    California , 1982
Education
  • Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley
    J.D. , 1982
    Berkeley, CA
  • Stanford University
    B.A. and B.S. , 1977
    Palo Alto, CA
    History and Psychology

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