Full Time Family Law & Divorce Mediator
Firm Focus: Mediation of Divorce and Family Law matters.
Firm History: After working in several law firms and organizations in San Francisco for 7 years, I opened my own law practice in 2005 dedicated to helping individuals in family law and employment law matters. The focus of my practice is now solely family law mediation. This shift was based on my years as a courtroom litigator and the realization that my clients are more satisfied with the results when they are empowered to make their own decisions instead of having decisions imposed on them by a court. I enjoy working creatively with parties to reach agreed-upon negotiated solutions rather than watching the damage done to bank accounts and stress levels due to acrimonious and unnecessarily aggressive court litigation and the uncertain results related to litigation.
I frequently mediate marital dissolution involving multi-million dollar corporations, with valuation and division of separate and community property stocks, stock options, investments, retirement plans, multi-million dollar homes as well as homes with negative equity, in addition to resolution of custody and visitation issues. As the mediator for both parties, most of my time is spent finding workable solutions to custody, visitation issues and complex financial disputes.
870 Market St
San Francisco CA 94102
Hourly rate applies. I provide, at no charge, detailed one-on-one initial telephone consultations to discuss and determine the specific nature of each case, the needs of the client and my expertise and ability to help in specific areas.
This is not applicable.
$375 per hour.
Monday through Friday;
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Emergency after hours by appointment
The legal system can be extremely daunting to those unfamiliar with it, particularly when they are dealing with the often overwhelming emotional aspects of a divorce or a custody dispute. I am able to use my legal skills to help those who have found themselves in the unfortunate position of dealing with a divorce, separation or a custody/visitation dispute and to help keep their family out of court.
Empowerment through knowledge is the primary focus of my practice as a mediator as. The more information a person has, the better decisions he or she will make. I want to make sure that each party has the necessary information available to make an informed decision and that each party understands all of the issues, the law and their options before entering into an agreement or before rejecting an agreement in favor of litigation.
I frequently see couples who have reached their own decisions about custody / visitation matters or their own division of assets and debts in a divorce case, and have come to me for help preparing the legal Settlement Agreement and other judgment documents. This is the type of client I would probably be; I would read as much as I could, make necessary decisions and then go to the expert to help finalize everything.
I am willing to do this with certain clients.
Private Investigator 1990-2000; Civil Litigation Attorney 2000-2005; Family Law Attorney/Mediator 2005 - present.
My work as a solo practitioner has helped me to become a better lawyer. I am able to constantly have my finger on the pulse of the case and I always know what is happening in every case, what each client expects of me and what I need to do to help resolve the case for the benefit of my clients. Being a solo practitioner allows me to provide the personalized attention I would want if I ever need to hire my own mediator.
A unique strength I have is being a good listener. I have always been a peacemaker, believing that life is too short to spend too much time involved in an ugly dispute. It turns out that if you listen carefully, most other people don't want an ongoing dispute either. My clients frequently thank me for just listening to them, for taking the time to hear their side of the story or for sympathizing with their circumstances. Listening is a very important aspect of my job, because how else will I know what they need from me if I don't listen?
I enjoy having my clients relax in the warm environment of my office as we talk about the ways in which I may be able to help. I am fairly casual in my dealings with clients, preferring to call clients by their first names and I ask clients to call me "Paula" rather than Ms. Lawhon. But I also enjoy the handshakes which remind us all that we are doing business together and that I am the professional who has been hired to solve a problem. I will always work to resolve a matter informally because that is almost always the path that will cost the client the least amount of money, take the least amount of time, and will best satisfy the client's goals. I am always courteous and professional with the judge and opposition, and no matter how small the issue, I will always work to get the best solution and to do what is right for each client.
I am an avid runner and enjoy spending time with family and friends, running, walking, swimming, bicycling, traveling, reading and spending time with my family.
Bar Number: 203368
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Juris Doctorate, 1999
University of California, Irvine
Bachelor of Arts, 1996
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