August 2017 - Contra Costa Lawyer

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Contra Costa

Lawyer August 2017

Attorney Athletes

Bar Fund Benefit Thursday, Sept. 28 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm Lafayette Veterans Memorial Center 3780 Mt. Diablo Boulevard Lafayette In Support of:

Social Justice


Archer Norris CCCBA Estate Planning & Probate Section Gold

Acuna Regli Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP Casper Meadows Schwartz & Cook Silver Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser LLP Ferber Law JAMS Littler Mendelson PC McNamara, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Borges & Ambacher Miller Starr Regalia The Mullin Law Firm Robert Half Legal The Law Office of Alexander G. van Broek Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel

In Kind Sponsors CALICRAFT Brewing Company Stevens Printing QUiVX


Funds raised at the BAR FUND Benefit will support the Social Justice Collaborative and its mission:

To protect and advance the rights of immigrants and their families through legal representation in immigration and criminal courts as well as community advocacy.

Master of Ceremonies Michelle Griego, News Anchor KPIX CBS5


Single Ticket Price: $85 Law Students: $60 Individual Sponsor: $125*


by September 25, 2017 Buy Online at attorney/calendar

*Purchase two or more by September 18, and your name will be listed in the program Scan this with your smart phone

Contact Theresa Hurley at or (925) 370-2548 to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

Contra Costa  2017  BOARD of DIRECTORS Philip Andersen President James Wu President-Elect Michelle Ferber Secretary Wendy McGuire Coats Treasurer Elva K. Harding Past President Mary Carey Steven Derby Mika Domingo Oliver Greenwood Renée Welze Livingston David Marchiano

Ericka McKenna Nicole Mills Craig Nevin Dorian Peters Laura Ramsey Summer Selleck

CCCBA   EXECUTIVE   DIRECTOR Theresa Hurley | 925.370.2548 | CCCBA main office 925.686.6900 |

Barbara Arsedo Emily Day

LRIS Coordinator Systems Administrator and Fee Arbitration Coordinator

Carole Lucido

Communications Coordinator

Jennifer Comages

Membership Coordinator

Anne K. Wolf

Education and Programs Coordinator

Contra Costa Lawyer CO-EDITORS EDITORIAL BOARD David Pearson David Arietta 925.287.0051 925.472.8000

Suzanne Boucher Marcus Brown 925.933.1500 925.482.8950

BOARD LIAISON Inga Miller Nicole Mills 925.402.2192 925.351.3171 Beth Mora


COURT LIAISON Stephen Nash Perry Novak 925.957.5600

Lawyer August 2017

The official publication of the

B   A   R        A   S   S   O   C   I   A   T   I   O   N

features Wally Hesseltine, Contra Costa Ultra Runner | by David Pearson


The Hon. Ed Weil, The Sky Diving Judge | by Stephen Nash


Margaret Grover, Rowing, Cycling, Skiing | by Inga Miller


Fly Casting for Sanity and Excellence | by Luis Montes


Araceli Ramirez, USTA National Champion | by Marcus Brown


Chelsea Dunton, Boston Marathon Runner | by Christina Weed


Adam Carlson, Triathlete | by Nick Casper


Ericka McKenna, Race Walker | by Theresa Hurley


Lawyers: Six Tips for Workplace Health | by Neal Varghis, MD


Assumption of Risk: You Knew this Could Happen | by Adam Carlson


Spotlight/Pro Bono Interview with Rebecca Thompson, Special Counsel for Special Olympics | by Samantha Sepehr



Samantha Sepehr DESIGN/ADVERTISING 925.287.3540 Carole Lucido Christina Weed 925.370.2542 PRINTING Modern Litho



The Contra Costa Lawyer (ISSN 1063-4444) is published 12 times a year – six times online-only – by the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA), 2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520, Concord, CA 94520. Annual subscription of $25 is included in the membership dues. Periodical postage paid at Concord, CA. POSTMASTER: send address change to the Contra Costa Lawyer, 2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520, Concord, CA 94520. The Lawyer welcomes and encourages articles and letters from readers. Please send them to The CCCBA reserves the right to edit articles and letters sent in for publication. All editorial material, including editorial comment, appearing herein represents the views of the respective authors and does not necessarily carry the endorsement of the CCCBA or the Board of Directors. Likewise, the publication of any advertisement is not to be construed as an endorsement of the product or service offered unless it is specifically stated in the ad that there is such approval or endorsement.

departments 2


4 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Developing a Healthy Work Life Balance

by Philip Andersen


INSIDE : No Excuses | by David Pearson


Board of Directors - Did You Know? | by Nicole Mills


Coffee Talk

32-33 P hotos: All Section Summer Mixer 34

MCLE Spectacular



from the

President by Philip Andersen CCCBA President

Developing a Healthy Work-Life Balance Are you happy? It sounds like a simple question, but it is a surprisingly difficult one for many people to answer. We all have multifaceted lives and being happy in one area of our lives may or may not correlate to being happy in another. Work is an area where many people find the concept of “happiness” more complex, if not difficult. Indeed, there is a popular idea in our culture that most lawyers are dissatisfied with their work, but in fact studies show that 79-80% of all lawyers enjoy their work.1 Rather than being at the bottom of the list regarding job satisfaction, lawyers were close to the middle, ranking lower than clergy and firefighters but higher than roofers and laborers. In fact, lawyers were very close to accountants.2 I leave it to you to decide what that means. Regardless of our occupations, we are all subject to good and bad days. While we might



know that to be true logically, social media can make it seem as though others are enjoying life more than us and that can have the effect of making us even less happy.3 A few months ago I took an online happiness quiz and scored a 71 out of 100 for my “happiness

quotient.” The areas they said I needed to work on were to relax more, play more and smile more. That is easier said than done, but I have been trying over the past few months to achieve a better work life balance and I think it is working. Here are a few suggestions:

Let go of the baggage

Stop reliving past wrongs. If we have been wronged - forgive and forget and move on. Letting go of past hurts can be extremely powerful. If we have wronged someone else - talk to those we offended and make it right. Taking responsibility for our actions is also extremely powerful. Even at work we can choose to move toward a less antagonistic stance. For example, in litigation it is easy to pick a fight. Resist that urge and instead show kindness. The disarming effect on your opponent will amaze you.

Spend time in your place of serenity

We all have places we like to go where we feel peace. It could be your home, nature, your place of worship or sanctuary. Wherever it is, go there as often as you can. Many years ago as a young attorney I contemplated getting out of the law completely. In my place of serenity I was able to clear the clutter from my mind and see my path more clearly. In my case, the answer was to stick with my job, but to keep green, living things near me to remind me of the beauty of nature and to brighten my office and make it a less sterile place to be. So I bought some plants and put them close to my desk at work. I made it through and I still have those plants in my office.


We need to take time to unwind and study after study has touted the psychological and physical benefits of exercise for managing stress and increasing happiness. 4 Exercise in whatever way brings you joy - sign up for gym membership, ride your bike or walk your dog. For the past 48 years I have jogged most weekday mornings. My pace is slower now but I still do it. I listen to inspirational music or talks on my iPhone. My day is always better when I start out with my morning run.

Spend some time helping others

Something good happens to us when we lose ourselves in the service of others. Last year I spent an hour in the Lawyers in the

Library program.5 The elderly man I was helping recently lost his wife and had a few questions about the estate. It was outside my field of expertise but I pointed him in the right direction. His emotions were on the surface and so were mine. I felt energized after that. If Lawyers in the Library does not sound like something that you would enjoy, the CCCBA has many pro bono opportunities, allowing for a wide variety of options to best suit your skills and interests.6

Work on hobbies and relationship skills

After over two decades spent raising our six children, my wife Candace and I recently became empty nesters. It is a big change, but one we are embracing. Our lives are less focused on our children and we now have time to go back to hobbies we once enjoyed. We ride our bikes together in the evenings after work. I bought a new amp for my guitar. Candace is practicing the piano again. We are also finding new and better ways to communicate with each other. All of these things enrich our lives and make us both happier people. In my view finding happiness is not optional - it is essential. It is the key to our emotional survival in this crazy, stressful world. There will always be something that is not perfect in our lives but we can be happy even while we are having a bad day, or week or year. We may need to work at it but as we pursue it, happiness will be ours to claim.

Philip M. Andersen is the Managing Attorney of the State Farm Insurance Company In-House Litigation Department in Pleasanton (Philip M. Andersen & Associates). He has extensive litigation and trial experience defending policy holders in personal injury lawsuits. He has been managing in-house insurance litigation offices since 1994. Contact Phil at (925) 225-6838 or philip.andersen.nx3z@ The views expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer State Farm. 1. Jerome M. Organ, “What Do We Know About the Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction of Lawyers? A MetaAnalysis of Research on Lawyer Satisfaction and Well-Being”, 8 U. St. Thomas L.J. 225 (2011), p. 263. 2. Chambers, David L. “Overstating the Satisfaction of Lawyers” Law & Soc. Inquiry (20130: 1-21, p.1-2. 3. 4. 5. build-your-practice/pro-bono-other. php 6. build-your-practice/pro-bono-other. php#anchor6





No Excuses by David Pearson, Guest Editor August brings us to what is generally the Contra Costa Lawyer’s lowest readership of the year. Our readers, like much of America, are enjoying summer with kids, grandkids, travel and general vacation goodness. We have always used the August issue for more entertainment type topics rather than heavy legal issues. This August is no exception. There is an old quote variously phrased as, “the immature poet imitates and the mature poet plagiarizes” attributed to T.S. Eliot and in other forms to Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and William Faulkner, among others. Our August issue is in imitation of an issue done by the Sacramento Bar Association where they wrote about the athletic endeavors of their members. Our editorial board thought this would make a great issue as Contra Costa has some phenomenal athletes. Attorneys deal with stress in many ways. Lawyers are the fourth highest ranked profession for suicide, we suffer depression 3.6 times more than non-lawyers and recent studies show that one in three practicing lawyers are problem drinkers. Our August issue deals with the positive ways that

local attorneys deal with the stress of the job. This includes everything from tennis to fly-fishing to ultra running. There are innumerable ways to get out of the office and burn off stress and tension. In addition to going to the gym at 4:30 am three times per week, I have run various trail races, including distances up to 50k, and participated in numerous GORUCK events where the participants show up late at night hauling 40lb rucks and are placed into highly stressful situations. Their events go anywhere from 5-6 hours for a Light to 12-14 hours for a Tough and 24+ hours for a Heavy. Success depends upon working as a team, adapting to people’s strengths and weaknesses and pushing through one’s mental barriers all under the watchful eyes and four letter words of active and retired special operations personnel. If the attorneys featured in this issue show us anything, it is that there shouldn’t be any excuses to go out an enjoy the wonderful weather and scenery that we pay so much for in Northern California. It doesn’t matter how athletic you are, only that you get out and try.





Contra Costa Ultra Runner By David Pearson

‘Discipline is key’ is how Wally Hesseltine underscores his passion for running. Wally practices criminal defense and family law at Pedder Hesseltine Walker & Toth in Lafayette. Wally’s running career dates back to June 8, 1981, when he went for his first run to get some exercise and help relieve the stress of law practice. It wasn’t long thereafter when he signed up for his first race – the Walnut Festival 10k in September 1981 and then the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon in October 1981. Since then, Wally has gone on to run at least one race every month; a streak that is unbroken almost 36 years later. His most recent race was the July 4 Stars and Stripes 5k in Concord. Each and every race is documented in a red binder that contains his racing history. Wally’s discipline has him running an average of 60 miles every week, running six days each week with occasional longer runs up to 35 miles. Unlike most runners, Wally didn’t settle for 5k’s, 10k’s or even marathons. Wally is most known in the running community as an ultra runner. Ultras are any race beyond marathon distance (26.2 miles). So, in addition to completing 56 marathons, including the prestigious Boston Marathon, Wally has completed 183 ultra races. Of the

183 races, Wally has completed an amazing 26 100-mile races. His 100-mile personal record is 20 hours and 44 minutes, which he set at a race in Vermont. That is a 12.44-minute per mile pace for 100 miles. Wally’s recent running goal has been to set the record for the oldest male finisher for the oldest 100mile race in the United States, the Western States Endurance Run. The current record, set in 1998, is held by Ray Piva who completed the course at the tender age of 71. Western States is a 100-mile foot race that runs from Squaw Valley to Auburn. Beginning in Squaw Valley, the trail ascends from the valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn. It is run every June. Western States started as a horse race until 1974 when the first person completed the race on foot. In 1977, the first official Western States was held in conjunction with the horse race. This race has become so popular that it now requires runners to complete one of the few qualifying races and

then enter a lottery for the approximately 400 spots each year. Runners have 30 hours to complete the course. Wally has attempted the course 8 times now and has 3 silver (24 hour or less finish) and 3 bronze (over 24 hour finish) belt buckles – the award for completing this race. His Western States best time is 22:20 set when he was 58. Next time you see him, ask him if he is wearing one of his many 100mile finisher buckles. His first attempt to set the Western States age record in 2016 is documented in a movie - watch?v=z6YPmAelNV8. He had a heart-breaking finish that year missing the 30 hour cutoff by seconds when he fell on the track at the end. However, after a brief rest in the med tent and a Coke, he was up and feeling fine again. Wally’s 2017 attempt ended at the first cutoff when he and many others missed the time to reach the first-aid station due to heat, snow and heavy mud along the course. Wally described the 2017 course as the hardest he had ever seen at Western States due to the conditions. However, fear not, if he gets in, Wally plans to return in 2018 to set the record. If you want to go for a run with him, give him a call. He would love to get more attorneys running the trails.



Judge Weil is in the green suit in the foreground of the photo above and top left in the other two photos.



The Skydiving Judge by Stephen Nash Ed Weil had always wanted to parachute from an airplane. Sixteen years ago he acted on that desire, jumping tandem out of a plane, strapped to an experienced skydiver. “I loved it. Before I hit the ground, I already knew that I wanted to do this sport,” he stated with a smile and a sparkle in his eye. Since that time, Judge Weil, who was appointed to the bench in 2009, has become an experienced skydiver, having completed over 1,900 jumps. During any weekend, if the sky is clear and there is light or no wind, you have a good chance of finding him prepping his chute or descending from the skies near the Yolo County Airport, outside of Davis. In one day, he will typically make about five jumps. “It is therapeutic. After my first jump, I always feel happier and better. Every jump, though, is fun.” For many people, exiting planes at 13,000 to 15,000 feet seems scary. “Some say skydiving is crazy, while others say that it sounds great but they could never do it.” Judge Weil responds that the sport is not as risky as many assume. If you have the right training, equip-

ment, and good weather, he says, the sport is relatively safe, with a rate of fatal injuries occurring in only about one out of every 150,000 jumps. Additionally, in all of the jumps that he has completed over all of these years, he has never incurred an injury that required medical attention. “I actually worry more about breaking an ankle when I go on a trail run than I worry about getting hurt skydiving.” Despite his assuredness regarding the safety of the sport, though, it is still not for everyone. “My policy is that no one jumps out of a plane because I talked them into it. If you are not comfortable doing it, I won’t try to convince you otherwise.” Regarding the cost of skydiving, Judge Weil says the reality is not as onerous as you might expect. There are upfront costs for equipment and training, and then there are per-jump charges, but, over time, he estimates that the total outlay is not much more than what one could spend over the same period playing golf.

On the other side of the ledger, skydiving has many benefits. First, other sports can’t match the beauty, freedom, and thrill of freefalling. Also, an unanticipated plus for Judge Weil is that the sport has allowed him to get to know many people who otherwise would likely never have crossed his path. “Skydiving. . .” he says “-brings together people from various professions, cultures, and age groups.” Still, his career makes him fairly unique. “Judges and lawyers think it is weird that I skydive. Skydivers think it is weird that I am a judge.” When asked whether he has gained any life lessons through parachuting, the Judge laughs. “It isn’t a deep philosophical thing for me. I do it because it is fun. If it ever stops being fun, I will stop.” Based on our recent conversation, that prospect doesn’t appear anywhere on the horizon. Even from 15,000 feet.



Margaret Grover – Rowing, Cycling, Skiing by Inga Miller Before the associates arrive, before the phone starts ringing, before the sun has even peaked over the Oakland hills, the head of Wendel Rosen’s employment practice Margaret “Maggie” J. Grover is propelling a racing shell through the Oakland estuary.



Sometimes, she and fellow members of the East Bay Rowing Club glide from the estuary between Alameda and Jack London Square almost all of the way to the Oakland Airport. Some days they circle the little-known islet called Coast Guard Island, and once, they even rowed passed the container

cranes and the cargo ships and to the Bay Bridge. “You have to be careful rowing out there because it can get a little choppy,” Grover cautioned. But never does she fear tipping over. “I row with the best group of allprofessional women.” They range in age between 23 and 80 years old and many have demanding jobs. They all share a drive for success, and the boat is a place where they can celebrate competition and achievement individually and as a group.

“We are established in our careers and we are all competitors. We fight for the seats on the boat among one another before we go to competitions, and during races we make sure that we leave it all on the water,” said Grover, a lifelong athlete of individual sports who as a child, skied and opened her own local swim school. Her cycling expeditions include the infamous Tour of the California Alps, dubbed the “Death Ride,” crossing five mountain passes starting in Markleeville, which she did for Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “The togetherness is an amazing part of rowing. I had never played a team sport before. In rowing, you really need to sync up. Timing is so important. Your oars have to hit the water at the same moment. Your legs have to drive down at the same moment. Your seats have to move back at the same moment. The thing about rowing is that you can’t think about anything other than rowing.” So for nearly two hours every morning, there is no office, no elusive solution, no noise. Just the water and its own tests, trials and mysteries. “It certainly helps me de-stress. It gets me up and going. Every moment in rowing, there are so many moving parts that you can’t focus on anything other than the stroke you are on,” Grover explained. “Sometimes it is almost meditative, swinging with the rhythm of water and the other rowers. So when I get to work, I am really focused.”





Fly-Casting for Sanity and Excellence by Luis M. Montes Fly-fishing is my passion as it provides quiet interludes between the press and stress of my other passion, my law practice. I took up flyfishing on a tactical whim and on a friend’s advice over 30 years ago, yet I remain a student of the sport. One fly-fishing off-shoot is the competitive sport of tournament fly-casting; my focus is accuracy.

However, it was not until four years ago, inspired by a precocious 13-year-old young lad, who won the National American Casting Tournament in accuracy, that I got serious. I set goals, scheduled practices, balanced tackle and seriously entered competitions. I got good over the ensuing two years. Good is less than average at our club.

Fly-casting is not so obviously the most important fly-fishing task, as I humbly learned the summer of 1998, while flailing away at everdistant trophy rainbow trout in Millionaire’s Hole on the Henry’s Fork River in Idaho, the Mecca of western fly-fishing. My fishing mentor, Mr. Bill Browning “suggested” I visit the Oakland Casting Club to learn how to fly-cast, the suggestion was poignant and a story for another time. Off I went, my ideas set, such that I waited until I was studying for the bar in 2007 before taking up tournament casting to conserve sanity.

The Oakland Casting Club is the hub of U.S tournament casting. My coach is a many-time U.S. National Champion, another competitor has won these competitions since 1980. We also have three members of the U.S. fly-casting team on board. Thus nothing short of excellence” makes a caster competitive in the Bay Area. Daunted, yet persistent, I recently scored a 100 in a tournament, despite six fluffy mallard ducklings regally paddling right through my course! During the last 90 years, less than ten casters have achieved that feat. Those little yellow interlopers helped me score the 100, relieving the pressure of my realization that I was ever so close to a perfect score.

Excellence in competition is rewarding, however the joy of perfectly presenting a fly in the most difficult situations, while fishing and tricking the quarry to take your fake offering is really beyond explanation. Fishing provides incentive for me to visit pristine rivers in the rejuvenating outdoors; it’s why I work hard at my law practice. Fly-fishing, like my law practice, requires a certain knowledge and dedication. I am very lucky to be in search of excellence in my fly-casting competitions as it takes effort, planning, practice and learning from the best of the best in the sport, and being in such a pursuit is the best reward of all. Wish me luck at the World Championships in Scotland next year! Luis M. Montes is a solo practitioner focused on business law for closelyheld businesses. When not practicing law or fly-casting, he is on some river attempting to trick a steelhead trout to a fly.



by Marcus Brown

Araceli Ramirez, USTA National Championship Mixed Doubles 2nd Place Winner 2004



Down 4-9 facing match point in sudden death in the final round against Texas, Araceli Ramirez and her doubles partner, Bob Deinhammer, are staring down almost certain defeat. It is up to them to win the game to move their tennis team, ClubSport Valley Vista, into the semifinals of the 2003 USTA National Championship Mixed Doubles 6.0 Tournament. A telltale tennis visor shields her eyes from the glare of the sun as she directs her laser focus towards the ball zipping back and forth across the court in an intense rally. In a dramatic upset, and drawing on her signature fierce style, they fight their way uphill in an exciting battle of finessed lobs, crosscourt shots and swift service. Nine points later, they clinch the comeback with a final score of 13-11. Game, set, match. Just one year later, she’s back in the USTA National Championship Mixed Doubles 7.0 Tournament (a higher level) with a different partner, Paul Tomaska, ready to claim her victory in another exciting sudden death elimination game. The competition is no joke; their opponents, Sun Oaks, are experienced winners in the Mixed 8.0 Doubles League in years past. But this year during the regular season, Ramirez and Tomaska have a perfect 9-0 record together. The teams are exchanging groundstrokes from the back of the court when she spots her opening. Ramirez darts forward and injects herself straight into the action at the net. She

blocks and returns her opponent’s service, the very definition of a force to be reckoned with. Their team, Walnut Creek, wins a 7-5, 6-3 victory at #2 Doubles to take an early 1-0 lead. She hopes her other teammates will use their momentum to steal the District title. Spoiler alert, they did, managing to knock off the #1 rated team and move on to Mixed 7.0 Sectionals where the team claimed the second place spot in the country. Ramirez’s tennis game relies on a combination of skill and grit that translate to her successful career as an attorney. Or maybe it’s the other way around; she didn’t start playing competitive tennis until the age of 40, but has been practicing law since 1985. She currently practices child welfare law and criminal law in Bay Point, with her husband, Anthony Guy Ashe, a criminal law attorney, at their firm Ashe & Ramirez. They serve a diverse community and offer bi-lingual advisement along with excellent legal service. Ramirez grew up in East County, and spent her teenage summers working in the fields. She notes this has given her a particular advantage in tennis. “The heat doesn’t bother me. Being hot on a tennis court with my teammates is nothing to complain about compared to working in the fields.” From this experience, and her participation in team sports (never tennis!) at a young age, she gained an edge that has fortified

her career as an attorney, and her exploits in competitive tennis. Ramirez appreciates not only the character building part of sports but also the character-revealing aspect. “Everything you do in life translates into everything else you do. There are some people that are very nasty and selfish, and you can see that manifested in the way they play tennis, you know they don’t want their partner to hit it—‘move aside, let me do it, I can do it all by myself.’” She acknowledges that this is the rare case and the she enjoys her teammates and camaraderie perhaps even more than winning. For the most part, the fellow athletes she encounters are just like her: they are there for the thrill of helping each other succeed, to push their physical limits, and to just have fun. Advice for a lawyer who wants to take up tennis or another sport? Take USTA’s “Tennis 101” through the Walnut Creek Racquet Club. At the Club, they offer private and group lessons to players of all ages and skill levels. Finding a community of people or a partner to play sports with makes exercise all the more enjoyable. About tennis in particular, she says, “It’s a social outlet. It gets your cardio going; there’s nothing not to like about it.” She jokes that her advice to skeptics is, “Not to be afraid. They can’t play any worse than I did when I started.” This local star certainly isn’t lacking for humility.

Ramirez also notes how invaluable athletics are for lawyers. Particularly with a stressful practice such as child welfare, and criminal law, she views athletics as being “essential for one’s mental health.” Scientists, physicians and mentalhealth experts have long pointed to exercise as one of the most effective stress relievers. Endorphins, those feel-good neurotransmitters released while exerting energy, help to combat high levels of stress hormones and counteract depression and anxiety. According to Ramirez, what better way to combat the oft-inevitable side effects of being a career attorney than through the sport of tennis? Like any team sport, it’s collaborative while also requiring individual effort and skill. She argues that tennis is a great for attorneys because it not only challenges your body, but your mind as well. Family is a driver for her athleticism as well. She is inspired every day by her father-in-law who still swims at 92. Her husband is also a tennis player. Not only did she not start playing tennis competitively until the age of 40, she had never set foot on a court. The first time she picked up a racquet, at the suggestion of her husband, “I literally hit [the ball] over the gymnasium at College Park High School.” Why start then? “It’s important to always try and experience things that you’ve never done before.” That’s why her latest conquests have been on the golf course.



Chelsea Dunton, Boston Marathon Runner by Christina Weed

Chelsea Dunton has been an attorney with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review since September 2015. Dunton’s practice is focused on disability decisions at appeals hearings. Prior to working for the SSA, Dunton worked for a private firm primarily in the areas of construction, employment, and general business litigation. Dunton is also a board member for the Women’s Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and a co-chair of the Conference of California Bar Associations. I knew Dunton had participated in marathons, and when I learned that the August issue of the Contra Costa Lawyer would be about Attorney Athletes, I instantly wanted to interview her. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Dunton about her running events, and I am happy to share them with you in this article.



Christina Weed (CW): How long have you been running? Chelsea Dunton (CD): I’ve been running since high school when I did track. I also ran during college and law school mainly to stay fit, but it wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I got into racing. My boyfriend was running a half marathon with his mom, and I thought I could never run that far; that’s crazy! My boyfriend and his mom seemed to have a blast participating in the half marathon, however, so the next year, when they signed up again, I signed up too. I was hooked after finishing my first race, so I have continued to participate in races. CW: How many marathons have you run? CD: Eight. CW: Which marathons have you participated in?

CD: The first one I did was in Fremont; it was called the Western Pacific Marathon. I then ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. I ran in Santa Rosa and the California International Marathon in Sacramento. I ran another in Denver, which was my second favorite race so far, because you start at the top of the Rockies approximately 10,500 feet up. My favorite race is of course the Boston marathon, and I plan to run it again next year. I also ran Mountains to Beach in Ventura and the Oakland Running Festival. CW: You mentioned that the marathon in Denver started at the top of the Rockies. Did you have to do any special training for that? CD: I had my mom drive me up to the top of Mount Diablo, and I ran down that twice. There was not really any additional special preparation I did. I believe it helped me to be able to run downhill in Denver because I cut about 4.5 minutes off my fastest time, which gave me a qualifying time that allowed me to register early for the Boston Marathon. CW: Oh, I didn’t realize you had to qualify. What are the requirements? CD: For my age group, women up to age 35, you have to run a marathon in 3 hours and 35 minutes to apply for entry to the race. They take the fastest qualifying times until the race is full. So, people who bettered their qualifying time by more than 5 minutes, were able to register first, before they open it up to everyone else who completed a marathon within their qualifying time. For 2017, qualifiers had to be at least 2 minutes and 9 seconds faster than their qualifying time to be accepted into the race.

CW: How many people do they let participate in the Boston marathon?

CW: Do you train for your races on your own?

CD: There are about 30,000 people who run. Of that pool, approximately 4,000 run because they have fundraised a minimum of $5,000 for an approved charity. Everyone else has to qualify based on their prior running time.

CW: What does your training schedule look like?

CW: What made the Boston marathon so memorable? Why was it your favorite? CD: The city is so welcoming in the days leading up to the marathon. It is awesome! There are decorations everywhere. Runners wear their celebration jackets around all weekend, and the locals all wish you good luck. You get to meet different people from all over the world and hear their stories about their journeys to qualify for the marathon. The race itself is every bit as magical as it’s made out to be. There is such history surrounding the event, and qualifying is a significant achievement. The actual day of the marathon is Patriot’s Day in Boston, so many people have the day off. It’s a big holiday, and the entire route is lined with people cheering you on. Everyone tries to give you a high five. It is a little overwhelming, but it is exciting. Also, the caliber of runners who participate in the event is impressive. Everyone is a good runner. CW: You stated you are going to participate in the Boston marathon again next year, right? CD: Yes, I qualified again by running a 3:29 at the Mountains to Beach Marathon in Ventura on May 28, 2017. The next Boston Marathon is in April 2018.

CD: I typically train by myself. I want to join a running group eventually.

CD: I have a printout schedule leading up to each race that I follow, and I track my progress weekly. I’m really good about not skipping runs. I run about 35 to 45 miles per week on average. I try to cross train at least one day a week. CW: Is it difficult to balance your training schedule with work? CD: At times, especially at my prior job when I had to commute. It is better now that I do not have to commute as much. CW: Since you started running marathons, do you feel like you have become more efficient with your work? CD: Yes, I feel more efficient. I know I am working towards an ultimate goal, and I am good about setting in place the steps I need to accomplish the goal. CW: Are there any races you would like to do in the future? CD: Yes, I hope to run the Chicago Marathon. I also want to run the New York Marathon; I have heard the crowd is very exciting, similar to Boston.

CW: Thank you, Chelsea, for taking the time to let me interview you. I am interested to learn about your future races and accomplishments. I wish you the best of luck. CD: Thank you for interviewing me!



Interview with Adam Carlson, Triathlete by Nick Casper

AC: I estimate that I’ve done about 45 triathlons. NC: How many Iron Mans have you competed in? AC: I’ve done five Ironmans (one word). It’s a branded race, so don’t get it wrong or the World Triathlon Corporation, owner of Ironman, will see you in court. NC: How would you describe the Every Man Jack Team? AC: Every Man Jack is a line of men’s personal care products founded/owned by a very competitive triathlete, Ritch Viola. About six years ago he decided to start a triathlon team in the Bay Area. The team has grown from about 25 local guys, to 70 guys nationwide and in Canada. The team is comprised of elite amateur triathletes who train together,’ tri-geek out’ together about gear and training ideas, and aim to foster a positive triathlon community at any race they compete in. Triathlon is an individual competition, but it’s fun to have people to train with and have people in your life who may actually care about your split times. Physical fitness has been always been a central part of my stress management regimen and my identity in general; I even wrote about it in this publication while 2015 Bar President. However, my perception of myself as ‘fit’ was shattered when Adam Carlson joined our law firm nearly five years ago. Adam is a triathlete, but not in the ‘I just trained and actually completed a sprint distance triathlon!’ sort of way. Adam performs at the highest levels of the sport, competing with one of the top amateur teams in the country and even qualifying for the Ironman World Championship in Kona three times. The following is my interview with him. NC: When did you start doing triathlons? AC: I’m happy to be celebrating 10 years in the sport. Well, technically, I did a sprint triathlon in high school, but I don’t really count that. I did my first triathlon as an ‘adult’ hobby in November of 2006, during my 2nd year of law school. NC: Approximately how many triathlons have you competed in? 20


NC: What are 2-3 results that you are most proud of? AC: Three results really stick out in my mind. There was nothing quite like crossing the finish line of my first Ironman, in April of 2008. The race distance seemed so impossible. A part of me thought it wasn’t real. I mean, seriously, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, and then RUN A MARATHON? It was 18 months after my first ‘adult’ sprint and, had I maintained the pace I did in that sprint for the entire Ironman, then it would have taken me 10 hours and 13 minutes. I ended up completing the course in 9 hours and 52 minutes, on a day when temperatures reached 97 degrees. There was an added bonus of making it onto the podium for my age group. Another result that I’ll never forget was racing my way to the podium at the iconic Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in 2014. In my opinion Escape from Alcatraz is the best triathlon in the world. I had volunteered at that race every year since 2008 and finally was lucky enough to race it in 2014. It’s so crazy to jump off a boat near Alcatraz and swim to shore. I had a nice run

split that allowed me to just barely make it onto the podium. What a race, and what a memory. Lastly, my Ironman race last summer at Vineman (Sonoma County). It was such an incredible day all around. It was a local Ironman and there were lots of people I knew out on the course cheering for me, which made it extra special. I was very proud of my 4th place overall amateur finish. Three punks beat me, but I’ll get ‘em next time. NC: How have you fit triathlon training into your practice? AC: I often say the hardest part of doing an Ironman is waking up early to train. I try to wake up at 5:15 every day to fit in 90 minutes of training before work, but the snooze button never stops being tempting. Right now I’m also taking advantage of the long summer days and will typically add in a workout in the evening if I’m free. If I do one or two big days in a month, typically on a Saturday, then simple consistency in the training, roughly 90 minutes per day, is sufficient to get me where I need to be. I enjoy coming up with challenges to keep it interesting. I just completed a challenge to run 100 miles in 10 days. I did a lot of small runs to get the mileage up, including the occasional 2 mile run at lunch. They all add up!

traffic coming back to the East Bay during commute hours, I brought running clothes and went for a 90-minute run in Golden Gate Park. Whenever a deposition gets scheduled or a hearing set, I immediately start thinking about a workout that can go along with it. NC: Has being a triathlete assisted your practice of law? AC: Being a triathlete has helped me in a lot of ways. Being a lawyer can obviously be stressful, and exercise is an excellent stress reliever. One of the bigger lessons I’ve learned from competing in triathlons is that focusing on the process is my key to success. Often times I get so fixated on the outcome of a race, like visualizing myself on the podium, that I don’t place enough emphasis and mental energy on what it takes to get there. My successes come more often when I’m focused on the building blocks, like my next workout and making sure I hit the intervals hard enough.

Similarly, I often get so wrapped up in the fact that I should win my next trial and visualizing the jury reading a favorable verdict, I forget to focus on what I need to do for the case. The more I stay grounded and focus on what witnesses I should call, what foundation I need for my arguments, etc..., the more likely it is that the case will go well. Lastly, it’s a reminder of how important physical well-being is tied to overall well-being, and allows me to empathize with clients I represent who have suffered serious injuries. Update: Adam Carlson completed the Ironman Santa Rosa on July 29, 2017. He finished 4th in his age group, 18th overall (out of 1,736 participants). For the 4th time, he qualified for the World Championship in Kona. Adam’s 3:07 marathon time also was fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I am always thinking about how I can add a workout into my day or week, and it often gets shaped by where my practice takes me. Early in my career as a public defender, I learned Spanish partly by watching Spanish movies while on a bike trainer. The other day I signed up a new client during the afternoon in San Francisco. Rather than fight CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


National Race Walking Record Holder Ericka McKenna by Theresa Hurley

At the tender age of 13, CCCBA Board Member Ericka McKenna (nee Ackeret) became the National Race Walking Record Holder in the 3000m Race Walk, a record that still stands today. McKenna race walked 3000m (approximately two miles) in 13 minutes and 57 seconds in the 1996 Pacific Association Junior Olympics. While McKenna no longer competes in race walking, she does still use her race-walking skills when she participates in triathlons of all distances, including the Ironman, which she has completed three times! Race walking, while not a well-known sport in the U.S., is very popular in other parts of the world and is an Olympic sport. McKenna’s interest in race walking began in elementary school when she had a teacher who was a big proponent of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. Her teacher invited nationally-ranked race walker Therese Iknoian to school to educate the students about race walking and McKenna was hooked. Soon she was training with Ms. Iknoian and her coach, Ron Daniel, after school and getting up at 5 am every morning to race walk while her mother ran beside her. That’s a very impressive commitment for a middle school girl! Within a year of starting out McKenna was traveling around the country competing in Junior Nationals and in 8th grade she set her national record. She stopped race walking in high school, but took up running when she entered law school as a way to stay in shape and reduce stress. After passing the bar and moving to Contra Costa, she joined a local running team that decided to participate in a triathlon and McKenna found a new passion. McKenna is a strong swimmer, having been on swim teams for years as a kid and in college, so combining that with her love of race walking made the triathlon a natural progression in her athletic development.



McKenna is a member of the Tri Valley Triathlon Club and in 2012 completed her first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The next year she completed Ironman Lake Tahoe, 2014 found her at Ironman Australia and in 2015 she was all set to compete in Ironman Maryland when a hurricane hit and the event was cancelled. In fact, her teammates say that she is cursed because each Ironman she participated in has had some kind of extreme weather, be it snow in September or rain for the entire 15 hour duration! Nevertheless she persisted and completed all three. McKenna took a brief break from participating in triathlons during her pregnancy, but now that she is five months postpartum, she has started training again and has signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon in August. Her husband and daughter will be out there cheering her on! McKenna has also used her athletic skills to benefit the community. She helps to organize triathlons for kids in conjunction with USA Triathlon, encouraging the next generation of athletes. The social aspect of training and the workout are the things she loves best about being a member of the Tri Club. While many people participate in endurance events because of the element of competition, she isn’t there to compete with others or even herself. She encourages anyone else interested in running, biking, triathlons or any sport to join a club or find a local group and get started. Who knows, maybe you’ll set a national record too!

Ericka McKenna is a transactional business law attorney at Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP in Walnut Creek, whose practice includes general corporate counsel, business succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, entity formation and operation, reorganizations and general commercial transactions. McKenna is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Contra Costa County Bar Association.



Lawyers: Six Tip By: Dr. Neal Varghis, MD Employees in law offices spend a lot of time sitting at desks, staring at screens and poring over case documents. Add in long hours and the stress of deadlines, and an attorney’s workplace begins to pose serious health threats. Having a sedentary lifestyle (either because of work or personal choices) can put you at risk for serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Additionally, workers who sit for long periods of time are prone to neck, back, and shoulder pain associated with poor posture. As a board certified physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, I’ve seen the impacts that poor workplace health can have on patients. Those who don’t make changes to their work routine can suffer chronic, long-term medical issues, which can be complicated to treat. If you experience aches and pains each day after working, you shouldn’t ignore them. Here are six tips for attorneys who find themselves working long hours in the office. 1. Have an ergonomic workstation Some employers will offer an ergonomic evaluation to determine proper desk, chair, lighting, and monitor setup. Even if your office doesn’t have professional evaluations, you can find great tips for a functional workspace online. Typically, your computer screen should be eye level, your elbows should



ps for Workplace Health rest comfortably at a 90 degree angle while typing and your chair should support your back while you sit upright with your feet flat on the floor. It’s easy, especially after long hours, to start to slouch while at your desk. No matter how ergonomically sound your office is, poor posture for long periods of time will take its toll. 2. Exercising on your off time Having an active lifestyle outside of the office can help with workplace wellness. Doing exercises like yoga or Pilates can strengthen your core, making good posture much easier to maintain. The stronger your core, the more support your spine has, and the easier it is to sit upright all day. Activities that build up your endurance can also help you fight against fatigue in the workplace. Long hours are never easy, but if you have strong endurance your body will react better. 3. Switch up your office chair Sitting on an exercise ball isn’t really an option when you have clients visiting. However, switching out your office chair for an exercise ball (sometimes called a stability or physio ball) can help in two ways: it elicits good posture and it works to strengthen your core. If you have a convenient place to store it when you’re not using it, give an exercise ball a try during morning prep time or in-between clients.

4. Adjustable desk Standing desks or adjustable desks are great for those who need to work long hours. Again, there is a level of professionalism that needs to be kept for those seeing clients, so a permanent standing desk won’t work for everyone. Sit-tostand desks are good options for those who need to change between sitting and standing throughout out the day. Standing while you work is great for your posture and circulation. Just make sure your computer screen is at eye-level and that you are wearing shoes you can stand comfortably in. 5. Take breaks Perhaps one of the easiest things you can do to improve your workplace health is to take short, periodic breaks from your desk. You should try to stand up or stretch about every half hour. This gives your back, neck, shoulders and eyes rest from sitting at the computer and breaks up the monotony of a long work day. It’s easy to fall into a work trance, especially if you’re on a deadline. Luckily, there are lots of smartphone apps on the market to help remind you to take short breaks.

6. Eat healthy

Having a balanced diet makes it easier to be active. When your body is getting the nutrients it needs your brain functions better and it’s much easier to get through the work day. In addition to a

balanced diet, eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce back, neck or shoulder pain associated with desk work. Turmeric is one spice that is fairly popular for reducing inflammation naturally. Remember, if you’re experiencing daily pain you should see your physician. Treating aches and pains soon after you start experiencing them is much easier than addressing them farther down the line. The longer you wait to adjust your lifestyle or address pain associated with office work, the more likely you are to develop chronic pain. Treating pain that’s been a part of your life for years is sensitive. It involves a balance of physical and mental remedies. Think of healthy work habits as an investment in your career! Neal Varghis, MD is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor who practices with Mercy Medical Group, a service of Dignity Health Medical Foundation in Sacramento. He specializes in musculoskeletal injuries, acute back and neck pain, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, pain reducing injections, and electromyography. A graduate of Albany Medical College, Dr. Varghis completed residency at Stanford University and has been practicing for five years.



Assumption of Risk – You Knew this Could Happen by Adam Carlson

Some of us engage in the occasional risky activity, from skydiving to bungee jumping, or even texting while walking. Some active people participate in dangerous activities more frequently, like mountain biking or skateboarding. So if you get hurt while engaged in some activity in which there is a known risk, can you still recover for your injuries? This provides an overview of the doctrine/defense called assumption of the risk (“AOR”). Distilled into layman’s terms, AOR could be summarized as “you knew this could happen.” Since 1975, following the California Supreme Court case of Li v. Yellow Cab Co. (1975) 13 Cal.3d 804, California is a jurisdiction that allows individuals to recover even if they bear some of the responsibility for their own injuries, i.e. comparative 26


fault. If an individual is driving while setting their fantasy football lineup on their laptop, without wearing a seatbelt, and someone turns in front of them violating the right of way, that individual can still pursue a civil claim even if their injuries were due in large part to their own negligence. A summary judgment motion brought by the defendant in that case is unlikely to succeed because the issue of comparative fault, and percentages attributable to the defendant versus the plaintiff for causing the injuries, is an issue for the trier of fact. Seven years after the Li case, in Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal.4th 296, the California Supreme Court drew a line in the proverbial playing field. Individuals are precluded from recovering even if they did

not play any part in causing their own injury simply because they were participating in a sport with known risks. AOR is essentially comparative fault on steroids and acts as a complete bar to recovery. Knight v. Jewett involved someone getting injured during a touch football game. Since that case has been on the books, it has been cited to by over 400 cases. The courts essentially analyze: is the risk inherent in the activity, i.e., did the plaintiff know this could happen? If so, defendant owes no duty to the plaintiff to prevent them from being injured. Two examples where the AOR defense has been held applicable include longdistance recreational group bicycle riding [Moser v. Ratinoff (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 1211] and golf [American Golf Corp. v. Superior Court (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 30.]

Thrill Seekers Beware

For an activity to fall under the AOR defense, courts traditionally analyze whether the activity is done for enjoyment or thrill, requires physical exertion as well as elements of skill, and involves a challenge containing a potential risk of injury. Accordingly, an adventure-seeking skateboarder who suffered fatal injuries on a dangerous condition of public property cannot recover [Bertsch v. Mammoth Community Water Dist. (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 1201], whereas someone using a scooter for mere transportation who got injured on a similar dangerous condition can [Childs v. County of Santa Barbara (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 64.] Courts have also expanded the complete bar well beyond merely sports activities. A UPS driver filed a lawsuit after getting injured for lifting a box that was mislabeled and ended up being heavier than expected. The Court, in Moore v. William Jessup University (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 427, held AOR barred his recovery because lifting heavy boxes was an inherent part of his job. The Fourth District Court of Appeal had to decide if AOR barred recovery for someone injured when they got scared at a haunted house. Apparently the chainsawwielding actor played the role too well, causing the patron to run away scared, tripping along the way. The Court stated “[b] eing chased within the physical confines of The Haunted Trail by a chainsaw carrying maniac is a fundamental part and inherent risk of this amusement.” [Griffin v. Haunted Hotel, Inc. (2015) 242 Cal. App.4th 490, 509.]

For any of you ‘Burners’ out there, be careful. In 2009 a court held that someone who suffered burn injuries at, guess where, Burning Man, was precluded from recovering, because, duh. [Beninati v. Black Rock City, LLC (2009) 175 Cal. App.4th 650.] A defendant may even be able to use the AOR defense if intentionally injuring someone. In Avila v. Citrus Community College District (2006) 38 Cal.4th 148, the Court had to umpire a legal dispute between a pitcher and an intentionally beaned batsman. Because from time to time pitchers intentionally hit opposing players, the batter assumed the risk of being so injured. That is why defensive end Leonard Marshall could demolish Joe Montana and cause a fumble during the 1990 NFC Conference Game between the Giants and Niners, without fear of being sued.

AOR Defense Doesn’t Always Apply

Just because someone gets injured while engaging in an activity that is fundamentally dangerous does not mean the AOR defense will automatically preclude the claims. A defendant may still be held liable if they increase the risk of injury over that inherent in the activity. So while you may be precluded from recovering if injured by a fellow skier [O’Donoghue v. Bear Mountain Ski Resort (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 188], a defendant cannot rely on the AOR defense if he got drunk before skiing into you [Freeman v. Hale (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 1388.]

torboat [Record v. Reason (1999) 73 Cal.App.4th 472], you can recover from the boat owner who provided defective equipment for your tubing adventure [Bjork v. Mason (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 544.] If you get injured while practicing for a horseback riding competition you may not be able to recover [Shelly v. Stepp (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 1288], unless perhaps the instructor set the horse jump hurdles too high [Galardi v. Seahorse Riding Club (1993) 16 Cal.App.4th 817.] So if you host a friendly soccer game at your house and someone gets injured, you’re probably off the hook. Unless, of course, you setup the playing field on a spikefilled lawn.

Adam Carlson is a lifelong, shameless New York Giants fan and does not represent the opinions of the CCCBA or its Editorial Staff.

A defendant also cannot provide faulty equipment or a dangerous playing field. So while you may not be able to recover if you get injured while tubing behind a moCONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


Interview with Rebecca Thompson, General Counsel for Special Olympics by Samantha Sepehr

The Special Olympics is a well-known organization, but how much do you really know about the services and programs they provide? Rebecca Thompson, General Counsel for Special Olympics Northern California, Rebecca Thompson, right, with Christy Dodge, a gold medal-winnuing Contra answers this Costa athlete who also works in the office at question and Special Olympics Northern California also provides us with an opportunity to get involved with their amazing program and services. SS: What is Special Olympics Northern California? RT: Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities through sports, education and athlete health. Headquartered in Pleasant Hill, we operate both the Special Olympics Northern California and Special Olympics Nevada programs, offering free year-round training and competition for over 24,500 athletes who compete annually in more than 270 competitions in 14 sports. We also are increasing our presence in schools through our Schools Partnership Program, to promote inclusion at an early age; and are committed to improving the overall health and well-being of individuals with intellectual disabilities through Healthy Athletes events, offering screenings and services free of charge. SS: What are your primary responsibilities as General Counsel for SONC? 28


RT: My responsibilities are largely like those of other in-house counsel. I create and review all contracts, covering everything from vendor agreements to facility rentals for special events and year-round practices and competitions to agreements with school districts and other partners. I also oversee risk management for our athletes, volunteers and staff; ensure government compliance in both states; assist our Board of Directors; and manage human resources. The biggest difference for me between working with SONC and my early years in private practice is that, at the end of the day, my current work supports a program which enables children and adults with intellectual disabilities to break barriers and connect with others through sports. It’s extremely rewarding. SS: Who does SONC serve? RT: SONC serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities across Northern California and Nevada, including 21,250 in Northern California alone. An intellectual disability limits cognitive functioning and skills. Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Fragile X Syndrome are a few of the most common conditions that cause intellectual disabilities, which are estimated to affect more than 200 million people in the world. We offer our program to qualified individuals beginning at age two, with our Young Athletes introductory program at schools. In the community-based program, athletes can start training at age seven and competing at age eight. While a majority of our athletes are youth, 31 percent are adults 22 and older. SS: Does SONC offer community sports? If so, what sports and is it competitive or for leisure/training? RT: We offer year-round community training and competition in 14 different sports, differing by county. Our full list of sports includes basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, floor hockey, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball, with cross county and alpine skiing available in Fresno County alone.

SONC competitions are designed for athletes of all ability levels. We have athletes who compete at a varsity-level and higher, and others who just enjoy being active with their peers. All of our competitions recognize results, and medals are awarded in gold, silver and bronze, with participation ribbons also distributed. A select few of our athletes earn the chance to compete at the national level at the Special Olympics USA Games and even on the world stage at the Special Olympics World Games. For all of our athletes, every competition begins with the recitation of the Special Olympics Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” SS: Does SONC offer training or competitions in Contra Costa County? If so, in what sports? RT: SONC offers both training and competition in 11 sports on community-based teams throughout Contra Costa County: basketball, bocce, bowling, floor hockey, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Athletes train for at least six weeks with our coaches, on a seasonal calendar; details can be found at community-sports-programs/county/contra-costa. Contra Costa County public schools also participate in the Schools Partnership Program, with students in all grades eligible to train and compete in soccer (fall), basketball (winter), and track and field (spring). See https://www. for more information. SS: What does the SONC school program entail?

RT: SONC now has a presence in more than 500 schools, through our Schools Partnership Program. Originally the program provided Special Olympics-style training and competition to supplement the more limited adaptive PE curriculum then available to students receiving special education services. The program has expanded to now also include general education students at participating schools, with a focus on social inclusion. Our Special Olympics Unified Sports program combines students with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates on the same school teams; we also help school staff and student leadership promote interaction and understanding through inclusive student clubs and schoolwide initiatives such as our One of the winners at the Spring 2017 Contra Costa “Spread the Word to End Schools Track and Field Meet. the Word” campaign, designed to stop the pejorative use of be in attendance. It’s a great way to network, enjoy great food and the term “retard[ed].” drinks, and earn bragging rights SS: Does SONC have fundraisers? for your law firm team. I promise to personally cheer on any law RT: SONC hosts numerous funfirm team competing! Two SONC draisers throughout the year and athlete teams will also participate we have one coming up, soon, and there will be a silent auction, that’s a great opportunity for local awards and much more. Teams of law firms to get involved. The 4th four can participate for $500; there Annual Tri-Valley Bocce Bash will are also options for single player feature a night full of food, fun and dinner-only tickets available. and bocce on Thursday, October 5, You can learn more and register at Campo di Bocce in Livermore. at with power players from bocce. Silicon Valley serving as event and bocce team sponsors, we’re Our largest fundraising event also expecting leadership from series is the annual Polar Plunge, local school districts, law enforcewhich challenges individuals to ment and community groups to Continued next page CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


Did you know? This month, the Contra Costa Lawyer is offering a lighter look at our members– focusing on our members who are also athletes, but did you know that some of your Board members are also athletes… or at least athletic? Mika Domingo and Nicole Mills are two of the newest members of the Board. Mika has been taking advantage of our close proximity to the Sierras by snowboarding for about 20 years. She says “of course, it’s just for fun” but I’d say that counts, especially since she doesn’t just play in the snow…she is a year-round athlete. She has also been playing golf for about 20 years – something she now shares with her husband, who has been golfing since he was a kid. Nicole also enjoys athletic pursuits, but snowboarding? Not so much. She is more of a walker, really, and has used that as an opportunity to benefit different charities. She has done the Avon Walk against Breast Cancer twice (once at 60 miles and once at 40 miles) and is now focusing on the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital walks. Although much shorter, the St. Jude walk is especially close to her heart because they treated her nephew last year when he was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric brain cancer. Here’s something not everyone might know… St. Jude’s treats the sickest children in the country – and they do it for FREE. No bills ever go to the families – not even for the housing, which they also provide. Renée Livingston has also turned her love of walking into a way to give back. She has focused her 30


efforts on the 3-Day Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure, whose funds go toward breast cancer research, and for which she walked 60 miles in 3 days in 2007! Not content to do just one thing, though, Renée also continues to enjoy barre-based workouts and swimming. Finally, to learn more about the board member who is probably the most formally accomplished athlete, please make sure to read our feature article on Ericka McKenna!

CCCBA Board Member, Mika Domingo on the slopes.

Interview with Rebecca Thompson, Special Counsel, Special Olympics of Northern California, Continued from page 29 raise money for our program by taking a winter jump into a body of water. In 2017, we hosted 10 Polar Plunge events throughout both states, including in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Sacramento. I’m proud to say that I braved the cold and took the ocean plunge in Santa Cruz this year!

Events are also regularly updated on our Facebook and Twitter pages @SONorCal and through the monthly newsletter, which can be subscribed to online at https://

We are also very grateful to have amazing support from the law enforcement agencies throughout our region, with many officers dedicating their time and resources to SONC. Law enforcement hosts fundraising events throughout the year, supports our athletes at competitions, and works to raise community awareness of the population we serve.

RT: We rely on the support of more than 24,000 volunteers across Northern California and Nevada, including 20,490 volunteers here in Northern California. Opportunities include coaching, single day support at competitions and fundraisers, and office assistance. No experience is necessary to help out!

SS: How can someone get more information about fundraising events with SONC?

SS: What kind of volunteering opportunities are available with SONC?

SS: How can someone get more information about volunteering with SONC?

RT: Anyone interested can visit for more information or contact BelinRT: All of our upcoming events are posted online at https://www. da Sullivan at

Coffee Talk Coffee Talk is a regular feature of the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine. We ask a short question related to an upcoming theme and responses are then published in the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine. This month we ask,


Do you participate in Athletics for a Cause? Why did you choose that event? I participate in athletics for a cause.

I hike, play soccer, do CrossFit and Spartan obstacle races. Last year, after registering for a Spartan race, I saw a link on their website to “run for a cause.” Among the options, two different national organizations caught my eye. I decided to run for awareness for Psoriasis and Lyme disease, two causes that are important to me. I had knee surgery early this year but am recovering quickly and am slated for another Spartan Trifecta this calendar year, adding another 20 miles of harsh competition to my track record. Richard Rose JFK University College of Law, Class of 2019

Every year I lead a team

of weirdos to shave their heads to raise money for St. Baldrick’s and then do a 4-5 hour physical event in Oakland afterwards. We are one of the top fundraising teams for the event every year at Children’s Hospital. David Pearson, Law Offices of David s. Pearson (and Co Editor of the Contra Costa Lawyer)

I ran the 2002 Rock and Roll Marathon,

which was a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I picked this event because it offered great training and support in both the athletic and fund-raising activities. I also did it because after 9/11 I developed a greater desire to be of service to others. I cannot run marathons anymore, but I still donate platelets for those suffering from blood (and other) cancers. Joe Nykodym CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


All Section Sum



mmer Mixer Thank you to the Barristers Section for hosting the annual All Section Summer mixer this year at Sauced in Walnut Creek on June 21st.


23rd Annual

Event Benefactor

MCLE Spectacular! Friday, November 17, 2017

8:00 am – 5:00 pm Walnut Creek Marriott | 2355 N. Main Street


Event Patrons

ADR Services, Inc. Judicate West

Breakfast Kickoff Speaker

Cynthia McGuinn Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & McGuinn American Board of Trial Advocates - President-Elect

Luncheon Keynote Speaker


Eric Swalwell

U.S. Representative from California's 15th Congressional District

Afternoon Plenary Speaker

Jeena Cho

Author of The Anxious Lawyer, An 8-week Guide to a Satisfying Law Practice through Mindfulness and Meditation Author Signing Event! Jeena Cho will sign copies of her book immediately following the Plenary Session. All who sign up for the full day program will receive a complimentary copy. Additional copies of The Anxious Lawyer will be available for purchase.

Event Partners Certified Reporting Services Clio FINDLAW The Furstner Group Mitchell & Mitchell Insurance The Yajnik Group

Contact Anne K. Wolf for Sponsorship Opportunities (925) 370-2540,

Plus up to 7 morning and afternoon breakout sessions to choose from.

New this year –

an evening cocktail party!