Contra Costa Lawyer - May 2022, Secret Lives of Lawyers

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Contra Costa


MAY 2022

Secret Lives of Lawyers

2021 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Ericka McKenna President David Erb President-Elect David Pearson Secretary Sutter Selleck Treasurer Dorian Peters Past President Dean Christopherson Patanisha Davis Pierson Jonathan Lee Terry Leoni Cary McReynolds Craig Nevin

Michael Pierson David Ratner Marta Vanegas Andrew Verriere Qiana Washington

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

Barbara Arsedo Carole Lucido

LRIS & Moderate Means Director Communications Director

Jennifer Comages Anne K. Wolf

Membership Director Education & Events Director

Emily Day

Systems and Operations Director


Contra Costa

LAWYER Volume 35, Number 3 May 2022

The official publication of the

FEATURES INSIDE: Secret Lives of Lawyers Anthology Issue, by Marta Vanegas, Guest Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Song Lyrics: “Suit Guy” and “Great Escape,” by Marcus T. Brown. . . . . . . . . . . 7 Screenplay: “Family Beach Day,” by Natasha Chee . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Excerpt from a Mystery Novel, “Nine Tenths of the Law,” by Claudia Hagadus Long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Excerpt from a Novel, “Smarter than That,” by Sheryl Sorrentino. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

510.210.2755 925.752.1826

Alice Cheng Rachel Margolis 925.233.6222 Chapman BOARD LIAISON 925.837.0585 Marta Vanegas Andrew Verriere

From Firewalking through the Mayan Temple to Singing A Capella, Performing and Visual Artists in Our Bar Association. . . . . . . . . . . 18

COURT LIAISON Lorraine Walsh Kate Bieker 925.932.7014 925.957.5600 Christina Weed DESIGN 925.953.2920 Carole Lucido James Wu

The Actor, by Alan E. Ramos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

ADVERTISING Dorian Peters Carole Lucido 925.822-8449

A New Adventure for Bob Jacobs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

925.937.5433 925.317.9113

925.370.2542 925.588-5636

Waxing Poetic, by Joe Wolch, Esq. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24


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The Contra Costa Lawyer (ISSN 1063-4444) is published six times in 2022 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 and additional mailing offices. 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.


The New Face of the Contra Costa Conflict Program


2023 Board Nominations are Open


Bar Fund Benefit 2022


Welcome New Members


Sustaining Firms


Advertiser Index


Classified Advertising

32-34 Calendar 35

Call for Submissions: Justice James. J. Marchiano Award and Pro Bono Honor Roll





Our first ever anthology issue by Marta Vanegas, Guest Editor


Dear Reader,

only people who should use the possessive ‘we’ are kings, newspaper editors, and persons with tapeworms.” Mark Twain

In your hands you now hold a unique issue of the Contra Costa Lawyer: an Anthology Issue. After the past two years, we (as in the Editorial Board) have all felt that members of our profession became even more isolated from one another, deprived of the many wonderful social gettogethers facilitated by the CCCBA and its sections, of our office camaraderie, of meeting our colleagues and opponents in the halls of the courthouses, of impromptu walks down Main Street for a quick latte after a chance meeting at a case management conference. We are still boxed into our offices or even home offices, and life just feels less fun. We were all of the persuasion that we needed a fun issue, an issue completely devoid of legal analysis and chockablock full of interesting pieces on the human side of lawyering.


MAY 2022

Along came this issue, in which we expose the yet unexposed secret lives of lawyers and judges. Many of us have artistic talents and ambitions and quite a few stepped forward bravely to share with us the products of these ambitions. We will share excerpts from a chapter of a mystery novel – by the renowned lawyer-mediator Claudia Long; and of a romance novel – by the powerhouse real-estate transactional attorney Myra Mitzman (aka Sheryl Sorrentino in literary circles). You will read the script for a short film by award-winning entertainment lawyer Natasha Chee, song lyrics by our former Co-Editor in Chief, business litigator Marcus Brown, and uplifting poems by family law attorney Joe Wolch. Last but not least, in our interview article, you will hear from six lawyers who practice a variety of

performing and visual arts: the Hon. Leonard Marquez, currently serving our county on a family law calendar in Martinez; probate litigator and universal talent Mika S. Domingo, now retired business lawyer Kent Parr, fearless bankruptcy lawyer Michael Primus, Alan Ramos who retired from the law to act on TV (until he retired from both), and family lawyer Deborah Jo Sanders. We hope you have as much fun reading the first ever anthology issue on the Secret Lives of Lawyers as we had while shepherding it together. Marta R. Vanegas is a shareholder at the Vanegas Law Group, APC, practicing employment and business law, representing individuals and small businesses in trial courts and administrative proceedings. She graduated from University of California, Davis School of Law. Marta can be found at

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The New Face of the Contra Costa Conflict Program Originally established in 1984 under the auspices of the CCCBA, the Conflict Program now is an independent organization whose mission is to provide high quality defense representation to indigent Contra Costa County residents when there is a conflict of interest with the Public Defender’s office and the Alternate Defender’s Office. Last year, the program assigned attorneys in over 4,000 cases. While approximately 75 percent of the cases handled by the Conflict Program are criminal cases (adult and juvenile), panel attorneys also represent parties in probate guardianships and conservatorships,

immigration and family law. Panel attorneys also represent witnesses testifying in court who are concerned about self-incrimination. Oksana Tsykova is the newly appointed Director of the Conflict Program, taking over upon former director Bill Green’s retirement. She has been a member of the CCCBA and the Conflict panel since 2013. As Director, she ensures participating attorneys comply with program rules and the Rules of Professional Conduct, develops continuing educational programs, administers the annual budget of $5.6 million, and reviews funding requests and billing.

To be a member of the panel, attorneys must Oksana Tsykova, maintain offices Director of the in Contra Costa Conflict Program and conduct the majority of their business in the county, maintain professional liability insurance, and must be active members of the California State Bar. Attorneys are paid based on the case difficulty, ranging from $89 to $130 per hour for out-ofcourt time, and $99 to $166 per hour for jury trials and contested hearings. To apply to become a Conflict Program panel attorney, please visit:, email: or call (925) 229-4410.


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• Probate & Trust Administration

• Elder Abuse

• Probate & Appeals

• Conservatorships & Guardianships

• Real Estate

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• Joe Morrill, Founder • Jennifer McGuire, Partner • Ritzi Lam, Partner • Morgan Durham, Attorney • Ariana Flynn, Attorney • Kayla Liu, Attorney • Mia Polo, Attorney

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MAY 2022

MORRILL LAW Trust and Estate Litigation


“Suit Guy”

“Great Escape”

Chorus: I used to be a suit guy Now I’m just a good old boy I traded in the Lexus For a guitar and a beat up Ford I used to have a fine woman Who kissed me and straightened my tie Till she said goodbye To the suit guy

Seven o’clock in the morning like every other day I’d rather sleep it off than wake and earn my pay But these three kids of mine rise like the sun Instead of leading them they’re Leading me on

by Marcus T. Brown

by Marcus T. Brown

Chorus 1: A great escape I don’t have to go far to have my heart carried away I may put food on their table But I see the best of who I used to be in them And they give me great strength

Now I wear a broken heart On a rolled up sleeve Passing the time in my Levi’s On a weather worn front porch swing My hair is long my beard is gray My old friends don’t recognize me They remember a clean cut fella Who had it so good they were jealous (Repeat chorus)

My boy can’t pick up a building block to save his life and my little girl can’t help but antagonize her brother, my oldest just kisses her boyfriend Yeah my beard is growing gray But it’s these moments that move me on

Well I woke up every morning Showered and shaved I was on the road By 6:30 lots of lattes NPR on the radio I had a view from the high rise Watched the people running ‘round below I felt on top of the world Now I’m nothing without my girl (Repeat chorus)

Chorus 2: A great escape From the pain and heartache I may put food on their table But these kids are wise beyond their years And they give me great strength Bridge: Back when I’d pretend I had all the answers Now when he asks me why a few dozen times I tell him we’re on

Bridge: And I listen to the wind in the trees I’m noticing the song the robin sings She took my pride and my possessions but I still have some things That can’t be bought and can’t be taken from me (Repeat chorus)

Chorus 3: A great escape It’s the mystery that makes The adventure I may put food on your table And give you shelter But you and your sisters are the ones Who give me great strength

Now I just sit outside and watch the butterflies © 2021-2022 by Marcus Brown / Tiny Pieces of Stars Music (ASCAP). All rights reserved. Editor’s Note: Marcus Brown, CCCBA member and past Contra Costa Lawyer Co-editor has been recognized for his songwriting talents. The Nashville Songwriters Association International recently named him to its “100 to Watch” list.

Outro: Come on it’s a great escape Come on son it’s a great escape We’re on a great escape We’re on a great escape © 2021-2022 by Marcus Brown / Tiny Pieces of Stars Music (ASCAP). All rights reserved. Contact: 925-822-7495



2023 Board Nominations are OPEN Should YOU Consider Joining the CCCBA BOARD of DIRECTORS


Support the CCCBA and its Goals and Mission


Support the Initiatives that Resonate with You



Build Connections and Expand Your Network

CCCBA attorney members in good standing are eligible to join the Board of Directors. The Board seeks candidates who agree to meet the following expectations: • • • • • • •

To possess or acquire a basic understanding of the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA) and its activities. To commit to the mission and values of the Association. To represent the CCCBA in a manner consistent with Board decisions. To prepare for and regularly attend monthly Board meetings. To attend additional meetings and bar-sponsored events as needed. To participate on at least one committee or task force. To participate in the annual Board Orientation and Training program.

Directors are selected for their experience and personal attributes. Active participation on a CCCBA committee or section leadership is a plus.

Nomination Process:

To be eligible, nominees must be active attorney members of the CCCBA. Any attorney member of the CCCBA may self-nominate by June 1, 2022, for consideration by the Nominations Committee. If you are interested in serving on the 2023 Board of Directors please submit your written nomination (including statement of interest, resume and 3-4 written references) in a single pdf to: Theresa Hurley, Executive Director, CCCBA, 2300 Clayton Rd., Ste. 520, Concord, CA 94520

Deadline for submitting nominations: June 1, 2022 8

MAY 2022


FAMILY BEACH DAY by Natasha Chee

INT. FAMILY ROOM/KITCHEN DAY DAD (35) sits at the kitchen island in a nicely decorated contemporary home wearing a white linen shirt, designer jeans, and loafers. He fiercely works on a laptop as if typing is a national sport. Across is MOM (33), a fitness obsessed athleisure-wear junkie, wears a neutral-colored yoga outfit. She scrolls through Amazon looking for that je ne sais quoi item that will make her life so much easier.

BILLY: Mom, Dad! We never do anything fun. I want to go to the beach!

MOM: Ok, honey. You can light the grill when you get back, ‘cuz I’m famished!

Susie suddenly jumps up and down on the couch.

Mom unrolls her hot pink beach towel. She slathers up the kids with thick sunscreen. She lays down and opens a book.

SUSIE: Yeah! The beach...I love the beach! BILLY AND SUSIE: BEACH - BEACH...



Mom and Dad look at each other in bewilderment.

Mom and Dad tune out everything.

DAD: Ok, I guess we can go to the beach today. I have to head down that way anyways, remember honey?

BILLY (7) wears a grey shirt and jeans. He watches YouTube videos TOO LOUDLY on the huge flatscreen in the family room. He loves videos about kids having fantastical adventures.

MOM: That’s right, good thinking. (to the kids) Kids, gather up your beach gear. Hurry before Daddy changes his mind.

SUSIE (5) wears a white cape and a gold plastic tiara and sits as close to Billy as possible. She intermittently SCREAMS wildly when she wins or loses a game on her tablet. An Ad comes on YouTube. A BIKINICLAD WOMAN (25), a SURFER DUDE (25), a BOY (5), and a GIRL (7) are at the beach. BIKINI-CLAD WOMAN: Don’t you love the beach? I do! I invite you to the wonderful all-inclusive luxury resort getaway at The Grand Turtle Cove in the Bahamas. It features white sand beaches, ten swimming pools, and fun for all. Billy’s eyes light up. He runs to his parents.

Billy and Susie make sand castles. DAD: I’m back! Hon, pass me a beer will ya?

continued on page 10

EXT. BEACH - DAY The family don their finest beachwear. Dad plops the beach stuff on the sand - beach bags, a cooler, a folding beach chair, and a portable gas grill. BEACH SOUNDS emanate ROLLING WAVES and SEAGULLS SQUAWKING. Dad screws the gold beach umbrella into the sand. Sweat droplets trickle down his brow. Mom takes sand toys out of her beach bag. DAD: I’m going to drop off the car. Be right back.



Family Beach Day

Continued from page 9 Mom hands Dad a sweating beer from the cooler. Dad starts lighting up the grill. He grabs hot dogs from the cooler. MOM: Kids, you want some snacks? BILLY: I do! Mom holds out juice boxes and a bag of chips. The kids grab a handful, start MUNCHING. A white fluffy dog licks Billy’s leg. DOG WALKING WOMAN (47) tugs her dog back. She gives the family a perplexed look. DAD: Hey, what are you looking at? Just keep on walking, nothing to see here. I swear, people are so rude these days.


MAY 2022

Mom peers up from her book. MOM: You know, we should go to the beach more often. It’s not that far and we’ve been working so hard lately.

BURLY MAN: Excuse me, but you guys are gonna have to move.

Dad flips the hot dogs, sips his beer.

DAD: Listen buddy, we got here first. Sorry, but I’m not moving my family from this spot. We’re already set up with the umbrella and the grill. My kids like this spot.

DAD: You’re absolutely right, honey. We both deserve some down time. Plus look how much fun the kids are having.

BURLY MAN: I see that Mister. Thing is, I gotta dump this delivery of sand according to the city’s schedule.

Billy buries Susie’s body, only her head pokes out.

DAD: Oh I see, ok. Sorry kids, but this guy has to deliver the sand. We can come back another day.

Dad looks at his family beaming and enjoying the moment. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

The kids start CRYING.

BURLY MAN (48) wearing a neon yellow work vest, jeans, and sunglasses approaches the family.

BILLY: Aw Dad, do we really have to go? I’m having so much fun! SUSIE: Yeah Dad, I want to stay. This is the best day ever!

MOM: You heard Daddy and the man, it’s time to go. Mom turns off the BEACH SOUNDS app on her phone. Pull back to see the family is on a small patch of sand surrounded by a tire store, a pet store, coffee shop, and a gas station. A sign on the edge of the sandy area reads: SANDBAG FILLING STATION LIMIT 10 BAGS PER HOUSEHOLD White plastic bags and a shovel are in the corner. The family gathers their belongings.

CALLER (V.O.): Hi, I’m calling to let you know that we’re done installing the four new tires on your BMW X5. Your car is ready for pick up anytime. Thanks for choosing Cheap-OTires! DAD (ON PHONE): Ok, thanks. I’ll be right over. Dad tosses the hot dogs in the sand.

Dad gets a PHONE CALL.

DAD (CONT’D) (to family): I guess it was good timing anyway. Come on, let’s go...What a fun day at the beach, huh guys?

DAD (ON PHONE): Hello?


3527 Mt. Diablo Blvd. #380, Lafayette, CA 94549 650.283.4955 © Natasha Chee 2022, All Rights Reserved.

Natasha S. Chee is the principal at the Law Offices of Natasha S. Chee. Her practice focuses on Entertainment, Intellectual Property and Business Law. She works with producers, filmmakers, musicians, content creators and tech companies. She graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law and UCLA. To learn more:




Nine Tenths of the Law by Claudia Hagadus Long Chapter 1

My name is Zara. I was born Zara Persil. Now I’m Zara Persil-Pendleton. In college I said that Zara was short for Zarathustra. That’s the kind of pedant I was. While ostensibly I’ve followed my husband Sam on his sabbatical to New York City, I’ve really come to New York to find my mother. She’s been dead for three years and her restless spirit plagues me with newsreel-style visions, jumpy, crackling, terrifying. My mother haunts me because I failed her, failed her in the way the world failed her, although with the best of intentions. I just don’t know yet how I failed and how I could have done otherwise, but still she haunts me, and she will, I’m certain, until I can figure it out. Too late to save her, in any case, but maybe I can appease that wandering spirit, and do right by her.


with a four-year-old. Blasé from her own urban environment in San Francisco, Meghan takes most things in stride, but she’s amazed at all the yellow taxis and the hot dog vendors. Now that Angie and Meghan are here, Lilly and I make elaborate plans to show them the town. “You going to actually wear that, Zara?” my sister says as we get ready to leave the apartment. “No, I’m just trying it on before putting it on the Halloween scarecrow.” “Pull your hair higher on your head. It’ll make you look ten years younger.” “If I pull it any higher it will break off.”

My sister, Lilly, lives in Katonah, one of the more northern suburbs of New York City. Lilly’s a middleschool teacher. She’s far taller, far more buxom, vastly more stylish than I am. She also has Anne-Frank eyes, not the hard ones I got. Even as she nears sixty she’s got thick almost-black hair to the middle of her back. Sure, Lady Clairol helps, but you can’t entirely fake this. She’s got mile-long legs too. She considers it her life’s work to make the most of her looks, and, as an extra-credit project, to make the most of mine as well.

“Have you tried a keratin rinse?” Lilly says, easily casting her eyes over the top of my head.

Three weeks after we move here, my own daughter Angie comes to visit with her daughter, my perfect granddaughter Meghan Johanna. New York City is an amazing place

They’re showing “Treasures of Lost Poland: a Retrospective”. We spend some time looking at the older items in the regular collection, and even-

MAY 2022

“Have you tried balancing your checkbook?” I reply. After we cover Central Park, the Disney Store and the trash chute near the elevator, Lilly and I take my daughter and granddaughter to visit the Jewish Studies Museum. I’m surprised by Meghan’s excitement at the prospect, until I realize she’s excited about going to a “juice museum.”

tually make our way upstairs to the Retrospective. And there it is. I feel a shimmer in the air around me, a chill that’s somehow warm and also, somehow, green. My body tenses, my gut flutters. I feel the coldness of the glass as if I were touching it. And I hear my mother’s voice: that was mine. *



When I was twenty-one I lived at home with my parents for a year…I also kept my mother company. It was in that year that I really became close with her. She had suffered a blood clot, and though it was a serious situation she felt fine, and her doctor recommended frequent long walks once the immediate danger had passed. We went to the Bronx Zoo, we went plein air painting—she painted, I glowered and flipped off people who shouted things from the road— and we went to the Jewish Studies Museum in Manhattan. I’d never even heard of the Jewish Studies Museum, but I followed along dutifully when she suggested it. We took the train into Manhattan, and because she was supposed to

walk we strolled up Fifth Avenue, looking in the windows of the fashionable stores, until the stores petered out, and the gorgeous old houses began; then we cabbed it the rest of the way to a small building across from Central Park. This was in the late seventies, and it was the first time I had ever encountered a security check at a museum. Usually prickly about her privacy, my mother handed over her bag without a word, allowing it to be opened and all of its contents examined. I followed suit and filed away the memory. It was still dangerous, in my mother’s mind, to be Jewish. I followed her as we acknowledged various exhibits: clothing, jewelry, dioramas of “real Jewish life.” She evidently had a specific purpose, though, one that she had not disclosed to me, but these outings were for her health so I didn’t ask a lot of questions. We took the elevator to the third floor, stairs not being included in the doctor’s walking prescription. Here was a display of Jewish ceremonial paraphernalia, including plates and cups ornately worked in silver and gold, bejeweled and carved; and menorahs, candlesticks, oil lamps, and bowls for ritual hand-washing. As we walked along, looking at the dazzling display, my mother pointed out workmanship details. Then she stopped in front of a glass case containing a menorah. The hand-lettered placard said, “Hanukkiah, Poland. Circa 1930.” “This is what I wanted to show you,” she said. I knew there had been a reason. “You see that? My family had one.” “A menorah?” “A menorah exactly like that one. See that turquoise enameling? That’s a lost technique. No one does that any more. See the pattern? It’s like your ring.” I was wearing the family ring, worked in blue enamel.

I looked at the ring she had given me when I was eleven. It had tiny gold stars and planets orbiting a seed pearl in a sky of turquoise blue. The pattern was repeated on the menorah. “We had one just like that one,” she said for the third time. She put her hand up to the glass case, her lips parted. “Do you think it’s yours?” We were both very quiet. Finally, she said, “I don’t know how it could be. It’s here in the museum. I would never—” “We should tell them,” I said. She shook her head. I knew why: if we told them, we would be telling them that she was Jewish. And even thirty years after the end of the war, she couldn’t do that. I should have taken her hand. I should have embraced her. I should have marched up to the museum’s head and told him that it was our menorah. Mom still had her hand on the glass, not quite touching the only piece of her past that she had seen since coming to America. It was there, on the other side of that barrier, and I failed her. … I never told Lilly about that visit to the museum, and I never told anyone about the menorah. Now we’re standing in front of it and my mother is speaking to me from the grave. “I’m going to get it back,” I say. The shimmering diffuses and is gone. “Get what?” says Lilly. “You see that menorah?” I say to Lilly and Angie. “The small, carved gold

one, with the beautiful turquoise inserts? It’s ours.” *



Writing fiction is like writing legal briefs, only for a willing audience: some facts, some twists, some invention. Claudia Hagadus Long spends her non-legal fiction-writing time doing deep historical research, mining family histories, drinking coffee, and embroidering truth with meaning. Her writing spans eras and worlds, from 1690 Colonial Mexico, to Roaring 20s San Francisco, to modern-day New York City, World War II Germany and beyond. Claudia is a mediator with ADR Services, Inc. specializing in real estate, business, employment and estates disputes. Her most recent book, Nine Tenths of the Law has been optioned for a full-length feature film, and the book’s sequel, Our Lying Kin, comes out in November, 2022 from Kasva Press. This excerpt is reprinted with permission from the author from the first chapter of Nine Tenths of the Law, by Claudia Hagadus Long, Kasva Press 2020. Available online and at your local bookstore, wherever and however you buy your books.

CCCBA 2023 Board Nominations are

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Smarter Than That by Sheryl Sorrentino PROLOGUE SEPTEMBER 2016 I always assumed I’d write a novel someday; I just never figured on penning a memoir. But let me assure you, dear reader, this modern-day tragedy will be all the more juicy for its truthfulness. As it happens, today is my 55th birthday. What better time to relay my admittedly schmaltzy tale of woe? Though I suppose I should apologize for multitasking. My husband, Rodger, always cautioned me to stay focused while I cook. But I promise I can still whip out a simple meal while recalling what is in reality a not-so-simple story. I’m robotically flipping burgers as I mutter to myself like a crazy person, envisioning you, my reading audience, right here in my tiny kitchen. Don’t worry, I’m still sane enough to know you’re merely inside my head—that once this is finished, you’ll judge me from the arrogant comfort of your easy chairs and Serta Perfect Sleepers, hiding behind paperbacks or reading devices. As for Rodger, he really is gone and won’t be coming back any time soon. So who cares what he thinks? I married that narrow-minded man—seven years my junior— practically out of spite. Together we contentiously raised a transgender child nearly to adulthood. I lost said husband and child—born male and whom we’d raised as a boy for her entire short life—in a car crash twoand-a-half years ago. If that wasn’t bad enough, in my grief, I made a delusory foray into the world of

online dating where I fell hook, line, and stinker for a scoundrel named Mario, whose five-yearold daughter (or I should say “fraud-ter”) he used as bait to lure me in. Oh, and up until today, I taught high school honors English to tenth- and eleventh-graders. Today, I unceremoniously quit after ten years of faithful service. So what else better have I got to do than transcribe my pathetic tale for posterity? By now, you’ve probably pronounced my story maudlin and over-the-top after a mere pageand-a-half. Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps I should quit while I’m ahead, because whatever I might have to say on the above topics, I’m apt to offend someone. But after all I’ve been through, why should I care? Shuffling around my kitchen, I have to remind myself that Rodger will never again roll up to Benson Polytech High School to pick up our child—not today or any other day. Nor will my irreplaceable baby ever again emerge from that old brick building—not even one last time. I can still picture Rodger waiting in his truck with the engine running (global warming be damned) while Louise bounded down those steps, an imposing backdrop of stately pillars receding at her back. She couldn’t get away from that place fast enough. At school, to her dismay, Louise was forced to live as Lewis, so named at birth after Rodger’s late brother. Rodger had insisted on it. Rodger, who’d been the head of Benson’s annual homebuilding

program for five years running. Good ol’ Rodger, who couldn’t bear to be embarrassed by his kid. But that left me squarely in the middle, between a “son” who identified as female, and a husband who refused to believe it. By her senior year, Louise had insisted I address her in the feminine, knowing full well I could never do so in front of Rodger, much less let slip our child’s gender identity in public. Besides having a somewhat prominent role in our community as a real estate developer, Rodger took such pride in leading Benson—one of only three Portland high schools (the other two being Canby and Forest Grove) in building a singlefamily home for some poor family each year. Even though it was a part-time, volunteer post, Big-Man Rodger had gotten his “oddball son” preference for being a “faculty child,” bypassing the lottery. Good thing they’d abandoned the admissions exam a few years back, because Louise never would have sat for an entrance exam at a school that mostly caters to future electricians, construction workers, nurses, and techies. She might not have known exactly what she wanted to be when she “grew up,” but any idiot could

Continued on page 16



Smarter Than That

Continued from page 15 see that Benson was a poor match for our imaginative, post-gender teen.

out of Rodger’s light utility truck, and spring into action—sweaty, tired, combative—their perspiration (and Louise’s subtle perfume) blending with the burgers’ smoky bouquet. What wouldn’t I give to see them tumble through my kitchen doorway, their pent-up strife coloring the day’s news. Rodger talking his guy-speak, the subtext apparent; me throwing our offbeat teen sideways glances, wordlessly offering college as her unwelcome salvation; Louise instantaneously silenced, the unfortunate pawn in our marital class warfare.

Now I smell smoke—excuse me a moment while I deal with a trio of charred rolls. Fragile as ash, they remind me of spent coals on a dead campfire. Except they’re smoldering in my ancient toaster oven that didn’t ding when it was supposed to. I’m practically choking, covering my nose and mouth as I grab a white dishrag and wave it like a flag of This prologue is reprinted with permissurrender. Rodger promised to look sion from the author of “Smarter Than at that damned thing ages ago, but That,” by Sheryl Sorentino. never mind. He left far more significant unfinished business when he Copyright © 2017 Sheryl Sorrentino departed this Earth. All rights reserved.

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I’m not off to a very good start, am Myra Mitzman (who uses the pen I? Jumping all over the place in the name, Sheryl Sorrentino) is a commerGet started today at telling. Although I’d struggled for cial real estate and business years to be a writer, I realize attorney with over 34 now that writing from the years’ experience heart is difficult business. handling complex In truth, this is all new commercial real to me. I suppose step estate and busione is to sit my ass ness transac- and real estate lending and financing. She down at a computer tions—27 of has worked “virtually” from her Oakland and focus. But I can’t them as a solo Hills home since 2001—long before sit still long enough attorney. She COVID made it “fashionable” to do so. to do anything besides has practiced Myra received her J.D., Cum Laude, from zone out in front of the under the name Fordham University (New York City) in television. I know you MSMLaw since 1987. She has served as an Articles Editor must be asking yourself, 2015. Myra’s areas for the California Real Property Journal “What is wrong with this of expertise include and serves as an annual update editor to woman?” And I suppose you’re commercial leasing (office, CEB on its Ground Lease Practice, Office right. There is something very wrong retail and industrial), purchase and sale, Leasing and Retail Leasing titles. with me. But maybe after you hear my story, you won’t blame me quite so much.

Candice E. Stoddard

You see, I’m only trying to make this evening like any other evening prior to the accident—before misguided college visits and unchecked road rage. Before Mario (or, as I have come to think of him, “Marifaux”) and my sister destroyed what little faith I’d had left in humanity. If only this were an ordinary night where, ten minutes from now, my hungry little crew of two would pull in the driveway, burst 16

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From Firewalking through the Mayan Temple to Singing A Capella

Performing and Visual Artists in Our Bar Association

Deborah Jo Sandler has a passion for music and singing

Michael Primus discovered firewalking, an ancient dance-like ritual that he loves.


MAY 2022

According to a joke, the difference between lawyers and accountants is that accountants know they are boring. We at Contra Costa Lawyer, however, beg to differ. We believe lawyers are a colorful bunch, fun to be around, with rich and fully realized personal and creative lives. As we set out to find proof of this point, we discovered a multitude of performing artists in our midst. Guest Editor Marta Vanegas sat down, albeit virtually, with the Honorable Leonard Marquez, and attorneys Mika S. Domingo, Kent C. Parr, Michael Primus, Alan E. Ramos, and Deborah Jo Sandler to discuss how they are living out all our dreams to sing, dance, act, or sculpt.

Alan E. Ramos: In 1976, I returned to college. I needed a Humanities credit and signed up for an acting class. I immediately found my outlet for artistic expression. In 1978, I founded the California Conservatory Theater and began producing theatre. Ironically, I started the theater company so I wouldn’t have to audition. The reality: I only appeared in one play that I produced (and had to audition for the part).

How did you get started with your artistic expression?

Mika S. Domingo: I grew up immersed in music. My parents believed in the importance of integrating music, dance, and drama in our education. They enrolled us in various classes and hired private coaches for piano, voice, and dance. My brother started winning singing competitions and I wanted to be just like him, so I worked hard on developing my style and won a few local competitions. By the age of 9, I was a finalist at a televised singing competition in the Philippines, like The Voice. My parents kept up with our voice training even after our move to the U.S. I attended workshops through the SF Conservatory of Music and Asian American Theatre

Hon. Leonard Marquez: I’ve been building with Lego® bricks since as long as I can remember. It has always been my favorite toy. I started getting my Lego brick collection and I just stayed interested in building. And as I got older, my relatives got “too old to play with Lego.” They would give them to me, and my collection would grow. I never stopped; I built through high school, I built in college, I built in law school. I’ve been a Lego fanatic my entire life. Some people build model railroads or build model airplanes and I build with Lego bricks.

Company. I sang in musicals throughout high school and undergrad. I sang at weddings, parties, festivals, and awesome venues such as the Cowell Theatre, Zellerbach Hall, the Bill Graham Theatre and Yerba Buena Gardens in SF. I performed regularly with the Young Filipino Entertainers Club, Teatro Ng Tanan, and for a few years, with the Young Inspiration Gospel Choir. Michael Primus: My wife and I were watching a TV show on bizarre rituals, which included a segment on firewalking. It sounded strange and cool, yet it drew me in. Searching for a local opportunity, I found The Firewalking Center in Sonora. I was nervous, looking at the confirmation screen for my order. I said to myself: “You only live once,” and clicked the button. My first three walks were part of a weekend training in December 2021.

Deborah Jo Sandler: I have been musical all my life. As a child, I listened to music constantly, took piano, attended musicals and concerts, and watched my mom performing folk music. Music was everywhere. I learned folk instruments, performed, and majored in Folklore, getting college credit for playing in an Irish band. I sing in two choirs, am learning jazz harmonies, and singing a lot. Kent C. Parr: I played the trombone since the 8th grade after being impressed by a trombone player in a Dixieland band. I switched to vocals in the late 1990’s.

What came first for you: the law or the art? MP: I have been practicing law since 1992 but didn’t discover firewalking until 2021.

Kent Parr, pictured right, with HouseBlend a cappella quartet. Left to right, Jim McGuire, Doug Emigh and Bill DeGarmo.

MSD: I was only 3-4 when I discovered my passion for music. One of my fondest memories was being cast in the production of “Kin,” a play that dealt with issues relating to race, culture, and identity. I was the youngest in the cast, so it was a real treat to work with seasoned actors. HLM: For me, it was the Lego bricks. I was building as long as I can remember. I was building with bricks long before my interest in the law. KCP: I grew up surrounded by lawyers (I’m the fourth generation) and by a wide variety of musical talent within my family. I grew up with them both. DJS: The art came first – I didn’t even think about being a lawyer until I was in my late 20’s. AER: The law came much later in my life. I didn’t start law school until I was 49.

What inspires you?

Judge Leonard Marquez’s Lego creation of Chartres Cathedral, complete with stained glass windows.

HLM: I build what I’m interested in. Ever since I was kid, I loved spaceships and rockets, robots and “mechs.” So that’s probably my biggest interest. It’s just cool and fun

Continued on page 20




Continued from page 19 to build different spaceships and Japanese anime robots and transformers. I’ve certainly been interested in architecture. And if you like to build Legos, then obviously, you have got to build a castle. In 2012, when a lot of people were expecting the world to end based on the “Mayan Calendar,” I built a Mayan temple with the giant asteroid coming in, destroying the world, with tourists running from the temple as the meteor comes down. MSD: I find much inspiration in my daily life. As a lawyer, I’m inspired by my ability to help resolve conflict. As a trusts and estates professor, seeing my students apply critical thinking skills to their work inspires me. As an artist, I’m inspired by how music can empower and unite human beings regardless of background and history. The voice is a very powerful instrument. It can help facilitate change. With the right message, it can unite and empower. DJS: I love whatever music touches my heart, which is all of it. My inspiration comes from people who sing with true emotion. AER: Passion. I have a great appreciation for passionate people, particularly those who pursue their passions.

What drew you to your medium of expression? DJS: Once I had kids, it was easier to sing than to play instruments. As I sang more, I realized that singing is where my real joy in music comes from. AER: I didn’t have the ability to paint, play an instrument or write a book. However, I found that I could be an actor – it was something that I could do that brought me joy.


MAY 2022

KCP: I became intrigued with the idea of the human voice taking the place of the various parts that musical instruments might otherwise be playing. Our a capella band, HouseBlend, was my laboratory for experimenting with that concept. HLM: My art grew out of my collection of bricks, but Lego makes so many different parts, the possibilities are endless. They make parts to enable robotics. I used transparent colored bricks to build stained glass

cathedral windows. I built a cave for a dragon with light-up gold bricks. You can build anything and everything and there is a huge community supporting you for finding a missing piece. MP: Firewalking sounded like a crazy, scary thing but also something that has been done around the world for decades, maybe centuries. I wanted to try it.


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MSD: Music in general has intrinsic value for our biological system. Everyone has a bit of music in their heart and brain, so everyone can relate to it. One does not need to have a high level of music training or knowledge to appreciate it, so for me, it’s a powerful tool to relate and connect with everyone.

How much time do you spend in pursuing your art in addition to being a lawyer? And how do you find the time? MSD: These days, my focus has been on my practice and community service. I now sing only on occasion. A couple of years ago, however, I started working with a coach again on producing a compilation of my mom’s favorite songs as a tribute to her (she passed away in 2017). DJS: I spend many hours each week singing: rehearsals, practice sessions, classes, and learning new songs. I find the time to sing because singing is my passion. HLM: Well, I think that’s the challenge for everybody, no matter what you’re into, but you can and should do it. I think people need to find ways to make sure that the law doesn’t consume their entire lives. Most people have hobbies or interests that they pursue, and I believe it’s important to carve out time for those. If it’s something you find relaxing, it becomes your getaway thing, then you’ll find time to do it. I certainly do. I’ll spend an hour or half-hour in the evenings building. Rather than spend an hour watching TV, I would sit in my Lego space and work on my latest build.

MP: Opportunities for firewalking are limited and usually in the winter in California due to fire danger. Needless to say, I spend far more time at the office. KCP: With HouseBlend, we usually rehearsed twice a week. We always made it a point to end each rehearsal with a small party, which undoubtedly helped keep the group together for 21 years. But the arrangements I wrote for the group were quite timeconsuming. AER: I am now retired from both endeavors. When I was practicing law, I had no time or energy for acting and was only able to pursue acting again after I left the law.

Do you find that your art benefits you as a lawyer? If so, how? HLM: Yes, I think it does because if you are a balanced, relaxed, happy individual, it spills over into your profession, right? Having a way of destressing and decompressing helps us lawyers because we have such a stressful occupation. Also, as lawyers, we are working in abstractions, words and rights, remedies, decisions, et cetera. It is very important work, but very abstract. It’s nice to look up at the end of the project and say, I built this tangible thing.

MSD: Oh, absolutely. The rigorous training I’ve had in theatre and music really helped shaped who I am today. Having a strong work ethic, willingness to learn, and ability to adapt are non-negotiable. Having a passion for music helped me manage my time better so I could allocate some for training and performance. Performing also helped to hone my people-skills. I developed that emotional intelligence through my art; I apply it daily in my law practice. KCP: HouseBlend performed countless a capella shows before large and small audiences. It helped build confidence for public speaking, although stage fright never fully goes away. MP: Firewalking is empowering and communal. The communal element was unexpected. Turns out people bond in overcoming fears together. AER: I always treated the courtroom as a stage and felt very comfortable there. As an actor, I never went on stage unprepared. Similarly, I never appeared in court unprepared. In law, as on the stage, unforeseen challenges would present themselves. You must rely on your preparation; only then can you effectively improvise to meet the unexpected.

Continued on page 22




Continued from page 21 DJS: I agree with Alan that appearing in Court is performative. I also focus on songs when I am nervous about court.

Is your internal critic harsher (or more lenient) with your creative or with your professional work? How so? AER: Over time, I developed the ability to critique my work as objectively as possible. The goal was not to beat myself up, but rather to improve myself. MSD: My inner critic is equally harsh with my creative and professional work. Just because I’m not getting paid to sing, it does not mean I approach it with any less preparation and focused intensity. MP: I am an easy-going person, and my internal critic plays a minor role in my life, professional and otherwise. That said, I would have disappointed myself if I got to the fire and did not walk. DJS: My internal critic is quite active in both areas. I’m probably harsher on myself as a lawyer because the stakes are higher. If I sing a bad note, nobody’s losing their rights.

If money were no object, would you quit your day job to pursue your art? Why or why not? MSD: No. My mother taught me that the quality of my life is determined by the quality of my contribution. I absolutely love what I do and feel I can contribute more to society by practicing law and teaching. I also dislike the unpredictability of showbusiness. HLM: I would have a hard time turning down a life of building Lego full time. I love what I do, but yeah… It would be hard to imagine a better existence than just indulging in Lego building. AER: I actually did this (even though money was an object, as it always is). I determined that if I wanted to see if I could make it as an actor, I would have to fully commit to the effort. I did have some success (35 shoots, including short films, a co-starring role in a network series, and a featured role in a national commercial). DJS: I thought seriously of dropping out of law school to sing professionally, as I was getting paid gigs, but decided I needed stability. I will sing a lot more when I’m retired.

Do you have any advice to the aspiring artists among us? HLM: We get so busy and stressed about different things. But carve out the time to pursue your art and let it de-stress and rejuvenate you. You know, that brief will still be waiting for you when you come back to it. KCP: I echo the sentiment. As my father told me, “You must control the practice of law, don’t let it control you.” MSD: Set realistic expectations. Be authentic as it will bring out your best work. Mentors and coaches are invaluable, but you must stay true to your own form. AER: For aspiring actors in particular: you need a strong sense of self. This statistic may be illustrative: for every major television role (particularly guest stars and co-stars) there are 2,000 to 3,000 submissions and only one person gets the role. The rest are rejected, and it may have nothing to do with talent, but some other factor in the production. DJS: My advice to other artists: do it because you love it.

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The Actor By Alan E. Ramos

You get an audition notice. You look at the sides. You say – “I can do this!” But what are the odds? Three thousand to one; 10,000 to one; a million to one? If that really bothers you (or you’re sane or practical or just not a bit crazy), then stop. Don’t go into that room. However, if you have a passion that drives you, a demon that is constantly in your ear telling you that to act is to breathe, that acting is living, you walk into that room. You give them the best that you have, say thank you, walk out, throw away your sides and go on to the next one. You don’t concern yourself with booking the part –

you booked the room. You gave them something to remember you by – you gave them a small piece of your soul – gladly. You do this without a care in the world, because you just spent the last few minutes of your life doing something that fills your soul, that lifts your spirit and no one can ever take that from you. You know that your time will come and you don’t really care when because you committed yourself to this passion. You are an ACTOR!!! © 2017 – Alan E. Ramos



Waxing Poetic by Joe Wolch, Esq, President of the CCCBA Family Law Section I was born and was raised In The Canadian Prairies,

In the Family Law Section As I guided my way.

With kilometers of wheat And countless plots of dairies.

To the present I sit Nearly 30 years hence,

I aspired to live That great Cali life,

Proud and privileged As the pages they went.

And fortunately, in law school Met my Californian wife.

So, I write to be thankful To the Section and members,

In 1993 I embarked naïve,

For its relationships made I will mostly remember.

As a fresh faced, new lawyer No skills, just belief.

I leave with a thought A note and a flavor,

And through all these years I’ve watched, listened, and learned,

Get involved and participate From those principles, don’t waiver.

From those far more skilled As the pages they turned.

As lawyers we find ourselves On the other side of the “vs”,

Welcomed and invited To become involved,

But as a group we are stronger For better or worse(s) (?)

In the Family Law Section As my career did evolve.

So respectfully I ask As we daily bill time,

The practice of law In Matrimonial terms,

That we work hard for clients But please keep in mind.

Became my passion And the pages they turned.

We are husbands and wives And parents and partners,

So involved I was And remain to this day,

Let’s respectfully advocate But together be stronger. Onward!

This was originally published in the January 2022 issue of In Chancery newsletter, the official publication of the CCCBA Family Law Section.


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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. For this issue of the Contra Costa Lawyer we ask:

I am an amateur winemaker. I make fruit wines (sometimes known as “country wines”) – from fruits, not grapes. I have a large peach tree and cherry tree, blackberry bush and three pomegranate trees. Hence, I make peach-cherry wine and peach-blackberry wine, pomegranate wine, and various other combinations. All are reasonably sweet dessert wines (I “backsweeten” them), and all are yummy! A couple have won awards at the WineMaker Magazine International Competition in past years. I have several entered for this years’ competition (winners to be announced in June). – Susan Morgan I am a musician and I play in a rock band. Bass, guitar, and sometimes uke and harmonica. I also sing classical music. I love both! And both can be difficult. But so much fun. –Carol Langford Quilting is what I do to unwind and to feed my creative side. – Deborah Moritz Farr My creative outlet is playing jazz piano and accordion at assisted living facilities. – Mike Young I write a 12-minute timed flash fiction piece every week. The moderator provides a theme, sets a timer, and off we go. – Corrine Bielejeski, Esq.


MAY 2022

What artistic endeavor do you engage in to unwind? I buy old houses that are about to be torn down, move them, and then fix them up. I have moved three so far. If my wife would let me, I would move another, but she won’t (at least for now) because I still have two that are not finished yet. I get a thrill out of seeing a house on wheels going down the road, and satisfaction that a lot of lumber did not end up in a landfill. – David R. Fischer

My creative outlet is to crochet! I taught myself at the beginning of the pandemic and have been making blanket after blanket for my co-workers and family members (I only know a handful of different stitches so I stick with blankets). It keeps my hands busy, it’s meditative and can be done in front the TV – a multitasker’s dream. - Madison Gunn I listen to classical music and pop music from 1970’s and earlier. I regularly read books of quotations and humor. Every evening I try to see what “old” movies are playing and re-watch them, especially if they are black & white. My Kindle may have two or three books going at the same time. Fairly basic stuff! – Hon. Richard Flier (Ret.)

Not so much creative or artistic but good distractions - Wordle, sometimes Lewdle, never Mathle.– Anne Wolf I enjoy taking walks along the Bay in Martinez. I get insight into things while I’m walking, and the answers come to me. I feel relaxed while walking and rejuvenated. – Angelo Costanza Painting! – Carin Johnson

Being a full-time law student, part-time legal assistant, wife, and mother are all very demanding roles. I find that it is imperative to set aside time to refresh my mind and rejuvenate. In doing so, my creative outlets to unwind are splatter painting, acrylic painting and abstract drawing. I choose to use bright colors against dark backgrounds in my splatter paintings and abstract drawings and create scenic acrylic paintings to induce immediate feelings of relaxation. Once I finish my artwork, I am reminded that there is beauty and brightness in every task, and I return to my normal activities with a fresh mind ready to give my best effort as expected. Engaging in my creative outlets periodically is essential to succeed in my endeavors. – Arvonne De Marco



Welcome New Members Please welcome the following new members who joined the CCCBA between December 14, 2021 and April 5, 2022. Nabiel Ahmed Nima Aminian Sophia Behnia Collins Aceilya Burton Ashley Carter Anthony Chiosso Erum Choudhry Kristen Chui Stephanie Clarke Huong Dao Jahmal Davis Jessica Dean Russell Doi Nina Dong Kasey Dunton

James Eastman Cody Fisher Monique Fuentes Colin Galloway Arminder Gill Nicolas Gioiello Joel Goldman Jeremiah Hallisey Michael Herman Nura Heydari Mark Hoogs Sho Ito Jonathan Jaffe Chelsea Jagar Jie Woo Kim

Elder Law is

Jennifer Krenzin Georgia Langsam Deborah Levy Wendy Meckes Nathan Metcalf Jessica Neugebauer Laurel O’Connor Dana Oviedo Aaron Palley Alexandra Paplos Ronak Patel Danielle Petersen Sean Phillips Alexander Promm Bobby Ramirez

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Advertising Opportunities in Contra Costa Lawyer Magazine Reach over 1,500 attorneys, judges, legal and other professionals when you advertise in the July issue of Contra Costa Lawyer magazine. Print and digital advertising and sponsorship opportunities are available now. Contact Carole Lucido, Communications Director at or (925) 370-2542 for the 2022 Advertising Kit or find it online.

A New Adventure for Bob Jacobs

When I first met Jerie (now my wife) 35+ years ago, she was getting ready to do a full-time volunteer service mission. Thankfully she consented to hang her hat with me instead – but I promised her that I would take her on just such an adventure someday. Well, that time has now arrived. The church we belong to has volunteer service opportunities all over the globe. There’s a need for electricians in Hawaii for maintaining building facilities. Idaho potato farmers go to Ukraine to help local farmers increase their crop yields. Registered nurses and retired physicians do all kinds of medical service work in developing countries. There are opportunities to provide humanitarian and literacy skills services all over the world.

excited for the prospect of working on identifying and engaging with local law firms who can fill our legal needs, giving ongoing instructions and assignments, interfacing with them, and reviewing their work. My wife is not an attorney, but she has a background in teaching literacy. English is the official language in Ghana; she will most likely be doing humanitarian work and teaching literacy skills to those in need. We will be in Ghana, but we will be interfacing with local counsel in as many as 17 West African countries.

After 18 months someone else will take our place. We will return home in October of 2023, and I’ll resume my work as a full time mediator and arbitrator. It will be an adventure! Robert B. Jacobs is a mediator and arbitrator in the East Bay. He provides ADR services in real estate, business and construction cases throughout California.

There is also a need for legal services worldwide. Large international nonprofit organizations have a need for ongoing legal work in many areas – contract, construction, real estate, tort defense, compliance with local laws, and so on. Africa is experiencing rapid growth, and so is our church’s ranks there. As a result, there is a continuing need for the construction of new facilities, as we gain about one full congregation each week. This generates pressing demand for legal services that go along with real property acquisitions, as well as the negotiating and administration of construction contracts for the facilities. I am (obviously) not licensed to practice law in West Africa. But I am CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


What Is a Sustaining Law Firm?

gratefully acknowledges its

2022 SUSTAINING LAW FIRMS Firms with 30+ attorneys: Miller Starr Regalia

Firms with 20-29 attorneys: Bowles & Verna, LLP Hanson Bridgett, LLP Littler McNamara, Ambacher, Wheeler, Hirsig & Gray, LLP

Firms with 11-19 attorneys:

Brothers Smith LLP Brown, Gee & Wenger, LLP Clapp Moroney Vucinich Beeman Scheley Doyle Quane Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Fanucci Greenan, Peffer, Sallander & Lally, LLP Hartog, Baer, Zabronsky & Verriere APC Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton Whiting, Ross, Abel & Campbell, LLP

Firms with 5-10 attorneys: Acuna Regli Barr & Young Attorneys Candelaria PC Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook Craddick, Candland & Conti Donahue Fitzgerald, LLP Edrington, Schirmer & Murphy Ferber Law APC Galloway, Lucchese, Everson & Picchi Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen & Lucey Horner Law Group, P.C. Livingston Law Firm, P.C. Morrill Law Patton Sullivan Brodehl LLP Temmerman Cilley & Kohlman LLP


MAY 2022

Sustaining Law Firms of the Contra Costa County Bar Association have a minimum of five Contra Costa-based attorneys and maintain current CCCBA membership for all attorneys practicing under the same firm name in the local office. There is no fee to become a sustaining firm. These firms receive additional administrative support services and are recognized in the following ways: •

On the CCCBA website at sustaining-law-firms/

In Contra Costa Lawyer magazine (in print and online)

Displays at the CCCBA office and at all CCCBA-sponsored events

For more information, contact Jennifer Comages, CCCBA Membership Director at (925) 370-2543 or


Joanne C. McCarthy, 3000F Danville Blvd., #257, Alamo, CA 94507. Call (925) 689-9244.


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Small law firm has large extra office nicely located in Downtown Walnut Creek. Conference rooms, kitchen, and 24/7 access. Rent for the basic office is $1,975/mo. with secretarial carrel(s), on-site parking pass and other smaller offices available for additional monthly charge. Possible overflow work/ referrals. Call Randall@ 925.935.5566.


Acuna Regli . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 ADR Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Barr & Young Attorneys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 The Bray Law Firm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Casper Meadows, Schwartz & Cook . . . . . . . 36 JAMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Judicate West. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 LawPay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Lawyers Mutual. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Minchen Team. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Morrill Law Firm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 PC Service Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Candice Stoddard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Vanegas Law Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 The Law Offices of Michael J. Young Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Have you heard about CCCBA PRO Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Professional Referral Organization (CCCBA PRO) is open to all CCCBA member attorneys and affiliate members with more than five years’ experience in their field. Group members will not have competition in their specific area of practice. This is an excellent opportunity for our community to develop deeper and more meaningful referral networks to support business growth and serve our clients better. Take action today! Learn about CCCBA PRO at member-center.




The Contra Costa County Bar Association certifies that the MCLE activities listed on pages 32 - 34 have been approved for the specific MCLE credit indicated, by the State Bar of California, Provider #393.

May 10


Ed Committee, Barristers, Litigation Sections

2022 Basic Trial Skills Series #6 Mediation: What, Why, When and How? Speakers: Tom Crosby | Jaime Herren | Lauren Tate A program designed to underscore the power of mediation, its benefits for clients, and how to effectively prepare for and represent clients at mediation. Sponsored by: IPRO Trial Director Time: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm, Webinar MCLE: 1.5 hours General MCLE credit Cost: $25 for Litigation Section members | $15 Barristers Section members | Free for Law Students | $35 CCCBA members | $45 non members

May 10

| Business Law Section

Business Law 101:

A Very Civil Q&A Bench/Bar Lunch 2022

Speakers: Natasha S. Chee | Joseph Snyder | Brittany Toth | Marta Vanegas

Speakers: Hon. Ed Weil | Hon. Barry Baskin | Hon. John P. Devine | Hon. Danielle Douglas | Hon. Jill Fannin | Hon. Clare Maier | Commissioner Gina Dashman

Intellectual Property & Cyberlaw

Time: Noon - 1:15 pm, Webinar MCLE: 1 hour General MCLE credit Cost: Free for members of the Business Law Section | $15 for members of the Barristers and Intellectual Property Sections | $10 for Law Students, | $20 CCCBA members | $45 non members Register: Online at

Attend this meeting with Civil Division Superpervising Judge Edward Weil and other civil judges to discuss issues of general interest or concern. Time: Noon – 1:15 pm, Hybrid MCLE: 1 hour General MCLE credit Cost: - In Person (includes box lunch): $25 members | $40 non members - Virtual: $15 members | $30 non members Register: Online at

Register: Online at

May 11 | DEI Committee

Planning & Probate May 17 | Estate Section

May 18

DEI TOWNHALL – Building Our Legacy – The Murder of Vincent Chin: A Trial Reenactment

29th Annual Estate Planning Symposium

Women’s Section Power Lunch

Violence against Asian Americans is not a new phenomenon in this country. This program will focus on a reenactment of the murder of Vincent Chin and the subsequent legal proceedings.

Sponsored by: Wealth Management at Mechanics Bank

What is a Power Lunch? Think LinkedIn but over lunch.

Time: 1:00 pm – 5:45 pm

The Women’s Section Power Lunch is an opportunity to meet others and build professional relationships.

Sponsors: Candelaria PC | Ferber Law | Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada | JAMS | M.S. Domingo Law Group, P.C. | ADR Services, Inc. Law Office of Ariel Brownell | Livingston Law Firm | Miller Starr Regalia | Mora Employment Law | Ratner Molineaux

Time: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm, Zoom Meeting MCLE: 1 hour Elim. of Bias MCLE credit Cost: Free CCCBA members, $20 non members Register: Online at 32

May 11 | CCCBA

MAY 2022

SESSION 1: Cryptocurrency: Keys for Estate Planning SESSION 2: What CPAs Want Estate Planners & Fiduciaries to Know Cocktail and Social Hour, 4:45 pm MCLE: 3 hours Estate Planning and Probate Specialization credit Location: Lesher Center for the Arts, Margaret Lesher Theatre, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek Cost: TBA Register: Online at

| Women’s Section

Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm Location: Urban Plates, 60 Crescent Drive, B, Pleasant Hill Register: Online at

May 19

| Elder Law Section

May 24


Business Law Section

An Introduction to Medi-Cal Planning

Business Law 101 Series:

Speaker: Brian O’Toole

Speakers: Brittany Toth | Marta Vanegas | James Y. Wu

Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Brian O’Toole will be discussing this years’ changes to Medi-Cal’s financial eligibility requirements and the practical effects this may have on benefits planning. A questionand-answer session will be provided at the end. Time: Noon - 1:15 pm, Zoom Meeting MCLE: 1 hour General MCLE credit Cost: Free for members of the Elder Law Section | $15 Barristers | $30 CCCBA members | $45 non members

Human Resources

June 7

| Business Law Section

Business Law 101 Series: Creditor’s Rights & Bankruptcy

Time: Noon – 1:15 pm, Webinar

Speakers: Corrine Bielejeski | Cheryl Rouse | Brittany Toth | Marta Vanegas

MCLE: 1 hour General MCLE credit

Time: Noon – 1:15 pm, Webinar

Cost: Free for members of the Business Law Section, $15 for members of the Barristers, Employment and Real Estate Sections, $10 for law students, $20 CCCBA members, $45 non members

MCLE: 1 hour General MCLE credit

Register: Online at

Cost: Free for members of the Business Law Section, $15 for members of the Barristers and Bankruptcy Sections, $10 for law students, $20 CCCBA members, $45 non members Register: Online at

Register: Online at

June 7


Ed Committee, Barristers, Litigation Sections

2022 Basic Trial Skills Series #7 Creating Trial Presentations: Everything You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know Speakers: Adam Carlson | Nick Casper | Ethan Hirsch One of the most important ways to effectively communicate the themes of your case and present evidence to the jury is by using visuals. Learn the important skill of how to best display visuals throughout the trial, including learning how trial software can help. Sponsored by: IPRO Trial Director Time: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm, Webinar MCLE: 1.5 hours General MCLE credit Cost: $25 for Litigation Section members | $15 Barristers Section members | Free for law students | $35 CCCBA members | $45 non members Register: Online at

June 9 |

Barristers Section

June 17 | Real Estate Section

The Return of the CCCBA All-Section Summer Mixer 2022

Overview of the New Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act

Join us in celebrating the start of Summer.

Speakers: David M. Austin | Mike Beuselinck | Marie Quashnock

Catch up with old friends, get to know some new faces and relax with your CCCBA colleagues Location: Calicraft, 2700 Mitchell Drive, The Shadelands, Walnut Creek

The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, went into effect on January 1, 2022, requires specified procedures in an action to partition real property that is inherited from a relative when there is no agreement between the heirs about whether to sell the property.

Cost: Free for CCCBA members

Time: Nooon - 1:15 pm, Webinar

Register: Online at

MCLE: 1 hour General MLE credit

Time: 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm, In Person

Cost: Free for members of the Real Estate and Estate Planning & Probate Sections, $30 CCCBA members, $45 non members (Free for members of the ACBA Real Estate and Trusts & Estates sections; please contact Anne Wolf at for registration code) Register: Online at

For more information on these events: Unless noted otherwise, please contact Anne K. Wolf at (925) 370-2540 or CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


June 17 | DEI Committee

June 23 | Women’s Section

July 26 | CCCBA

DEI TOWNHALL Juneteenth Celebration

Annual Women’s Section Luncheon

CCCBA Goes to the Ballpark

Join us to celebrate Juneteenth! We’ll have a BBQ cookoff and lots of fun games and activities. Bring the family to celebrate this important holiday.

Time: Noon - 1:30 pm

Your ticket includes a field infield level box seat, a delicious catered tailgate and some ballpark appropriate libations. Special group parking rate of $20 (regularly $30). You can purchase in advance when you register.

Sponsors: Candelaria PC | Ferber Law | Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada | JAMS | M.S. Domingo Law Group, P.C. | ADR Services, Inc. | Law Office of Ariel Brownell | Livingston Law Firm | Miller Starr Regalia | Mora Employment Law | Ratner Molineaux

Location: The Dead Fish, 20050 San Pablo Ave., Crocket Further details to be announced Register: Online at

Houston Astros @ Oakland A’s

Time: 4:30 pm – 10:00 pm (game time: 6:40 pm) Location: Oakland Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland

Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Cost: $65 CCCBA members and guests

Further details to be announced

Further details to be announced

Register: Online at

Register: Online at

Wellness Challenge

The CCCBA Wellness Committee has enjoyed the Wellness Challenge and invites you to make taking care of yourself a priority. Join us on Zoom on select Fridays at Noon to discuss your experience, discover more resources and learn about the upcoming challenge. Please join us! Time: Noon - 1:00 pm, Zoom Meeting Cost: Free for all

May 6

| Wellness Committee

Register: Online at

May 20

| Wellness Committee

| Wellness Committee


Try Something New!


Discover strategies and techniques to allow to step into and out of the office with ease. Drop your phone, tablet, and computer, and disconnect!

Learning new skills can improve mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence and building a sense of purpose and helping to connect with others.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

In the next two weeks invest time in learning a new skill or improving one that has become rusty. Try Duo Lingo to brush up on the language you studied in high school or college. Pick up an instrument you may have played in your youth and brush up using YouTube tutorials or pick up a new instrument like Ukulele. Teach yourself a hobby like knitting or needlepoint.


June 3

MAY 2022

Spend time each day thinking about what you are grateful for in your life - both small and big things. Start a gratitude journal, have your family talk about what they are grateful each day at dinner or before bed, post about it on your social media feed.

The Justice James J. Marchiano DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD Nominations are open now for the second annual Justice James J. Marchiano Distinguished Service Award. This award will go to a CCCBA member who volunteers his or her time, either in a legal or non-legal capacity, to improve the circumstances of others and changes lives for the better in our community. To be considered for the award, a member can self-nominate or be nominated by someone else. Download the application and read about last year’s inspiring recipient of the Justice James J. Marchiano Distinguished Service Award, Ray Robinson, at pro-bono-recognition Deadline: Please send the completed award application to Anne K. Wolf at no later than July 18, 2022 at 5:00 pm. If you are one of the many CCCBA members who help out in their communities in a legal or non-legal capacity, we hope you will enter the CCCBA Pro Bono Honor Roll. Any CCCBA member who has volunteered 50 or more hours over the period September 1, 2021 – August 31, 2022 is eligible for the Pro Bono Honor Roll. For more information visit

At the Bar Fund Benefit on September 29, 2022 the Justice James J. Marchiano Distinguished Service Award will be presented and the recipients of the Pro Bono Honor Roll will be honored. Reserve your spot at www.

2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520 Concord, CA 94520

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