Law Office of Valerie L. Patten

Firm Overview

In 1996, I decided to open up my own solo practice, and have enjoyed having an office of my own. I have focused on family law, with a small, select group of art law clients.

Example cases

My favorite cases over the years have been the cases where at the outset, when I am retained, my client has been put at a severe disadvantage and perhaps deprived of visitation for one reason or another, and by the end of the case, with my help, she/he has achieved an appropriate timeshare, a restored and balanced relationship with her/his kids, an equal balance of power with the other spouse, a fair division of property, and confidence in better parenting skills and/or relationship skills. These are my "big cases," although no one outside of my office will ever know about them.

Main Office
1690 Woodside Road
Suite 114
Redwood City  CA  94061
  • (650) 365-3508
  • (650) 362-2107


Free Initial Consultation?
I charge my regular hourly rate for an initial consultation and give discounts occasionally on a case by case basis
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
Hourly Rates

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Friday
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Generally by appointment
Emergency After Hours
Languages Spoken

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

I feel that it chose me. In law school, perhaps because I was an older student -- a second career -- I had an aptitude for family law. I received the American Jurisprudence Award for my performance in Dean Areen's Family Law I course. So I thought, "This must be it."

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

This is a great idea, and very helpful.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I will do it as long as I have a crystal clear, carefully discussed and delineated relationship with the client.

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

Again, I will do this on a limited basis, for no longer than 3 hours, primarily to explain court procedure and clarify legal rights and responsibilities. Over 3 hours, I would ask the client to decide whether or not to retain my firm to handle the case.

Valerie L. Patten

Law Office of Valerie L. Patten established in present location in 1996.

Hoover and Associates, San Jose, California (family law firm) 1993-1996.

Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, Staff Attorney (1992-1993).

Law Clerk for Garfinkle and Associates, Washington, D.C. (family and art law) 1990 - 1992.

Legal Intern for Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, Washington, D.C.

My volunteer work for Superior Court; since 1999, I have participated in all kinds of court sponsored mediation and settlement conference work, where I have been exposed to a wide range of complex family law issues, experienced attorneys, and have developed my own style in terms of mediation skills. My day to day experience working with clients on cases and appearing in court on their behalf is critical to becoming a better lawyer.

My principal goal is to offer very personalized legal services to clients, specifically tailored to the individual presentation of each case. Family law is about relationships and preserving a sense of protection, proportion, fairness, and attention to the needs of children when adult relationships disintegrate. I focus on child custody, support, marital, premarital, and settlement contracts, property division, domestic violence, and mediation in the context of dissolution of marriage, paternity actions, and partnerships. My art law practice is similarly tailored to the individuals involved and includes contracts, copyright, moral rights, licensing agreements, and most issues related to visual arts law in terms of the individual artist.

I believe that my unique strength is my interest in understanding people. In law school, I studied Law and Psychiatry with three psychiatrists and a law professor and I have taken continuing education courses required for custody evaluators as well as a comprehensive domestic violence course for psychologists working in family law. As much as possible, I try to keep up with the literature and new developments in psychology in the context of custody and domestic violence. Understanding the viewpoint of the psychologist in a custody evaluation is challenging and extremely important to the practice of family law. I study to understand, and to be able to anticipate behavior in my clients and other parties to family law cases. Most importantly, this study keeps my thinking flexible and helps me to come up with ideas -- ideas for settlement, ideas for strategy, whatever is necessary to best represent my client.

My lifelong interest in nonviolence as a viable means of conflict resolution has also contributed to my family law practice. Nonviolence teaches us to look for alternatives to conflict; it teaches us to think issues through from multiple perspectives, again, generating ideas. The solutions to problems cannot all be the same for everyone. This is why I believe that the ability to creatively come up with ideas is one of the most important qualities for practicing family law. Naturally, ideas are the basis of conflict resolution through mediation. I believe in a hands-on approach where the parties and mediator brainstorm. I know I am succeeding when the parties get excited about the ideas and start talking about solving the remainder of their issues and problems between themselves. That is a most successful feeling of resolution; when the attorney drops into the background and becomes the educated scrivener.

Personal interests:
My daughter Elizabeth Wood, making and viewing art, nature, hiking, learning.
  • Bar Number: 161300
    California , 1992
  • Georgetown University Law Center
    J.D. , 1992
    Washington, D.C., DC
    Law clerk for Garfinkle and Associates, Washington, D.C., (a firm devoted to the combination of family law and art law); Law Review: Journal of Law and Technology, 1990-1991; Legal Intern for Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, 1990 (model "Artist-Gallery Contract;" article for Cultural Alliance), I also studied law, policy and nonviolence with Colman McCarthy
  • San Jose State University
    Master of Fine Arts , 1981
    San Jose, CA
    Teaching Assistant for Professor Tony May; 1979 Exhibit at WORKS Gallery, San Jose, California; M.F.A. Exhibition and Thesis, 1980.
    Focus and Accomplishments: exhibiting, teaching, writing. I wrote press releases and reviews for WORKS Gallery, San Jose, during its early years. I also began teaching a weekly art class in the North County Jail, Palo Alto, California, and continued this volunteer work for eight years.
  • Stanford University
    A.B. , 1972
    Stanford, CA
    Art major with interests in Art History, Creative Writing, Comparative Literature, Comparative Religion, and on-campus politics, including the study of the role of nonviolence in conflict resolution

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