Contra Costa Lawyer July 2022, Lawyers as Parents

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Contra Costa


JULY 2022

Lawyers as Parents

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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

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Contra Costa

LAWYER Volume 35, Number 4 July 2022

The official publication of the Contra Costa County Bar Association

FEATURES INSIDE: A Life of Many Hats, by Ariel Brownell Lee, Guest Editor. 5 Growing Up Legal, by Shannon Wolfrum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 That’s Not How We Do Things, and Other Nonsense Lawyer Parents Should Ignore, by Jen Lee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

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



Navigating Pregnancy, Parental Leave and the Return to Work by Danielle Jones, Marissa Boyd and David Marchiano. . . . . . . . . . 16 An Attorney Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Special Education Process, by Sabrina Axt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

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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.


JULY 2022

Demystifying Private Adoption, by Pa’tanisha Davis Pierson and Matthew Talbot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26


MCLE Spectacular 2022 - Save the Date


Bar Fund Benefit 2022


PHOTOS: Celebrating Lunar New Year


PHOTOS: Inductions of Judges Jennifer Lee and Kirk Athanasiou


Advertiser Index


Classified Advertising

32-34 Calendar 34

Welcome New Members


PHOTOS: All Section Summer Mixer


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

On the Cover:

Thank you to CCCBA members who sent in photos of their children, and of themselves as children. Here is one more that arrived after the artwork for the cover had been finished.

INSIDE: A Life of Many Hats by Ariel Brownell Lee, Guest Editor

I’m a working parent.” What a loaded phrase. Aren’t all parents “working” parents, despite the details of how they spend their days? A more accurate phrase would be, “I am a parent with multiple jobs.” Parenting itself encompasses numerous job descriptions: safety manager (gotta keep the kids alive!), activities director, emotional support person, mess cleaner – just to name a few. On top of that, most reading this article also have the full-time job of being a lawyer, which for most of us takes the time and energy of two-jobs. It’s a constant balance of work and home and can feel like we’re the peddler in Caps For Sale, walking through the town square wearing 16 caps all at once, careful not to drop any. Forgive me for referencing a 30-year-old children’s book; this is my life now. So, how do we do it? For me, my balance and sanity came from going virtual. I started this transition in January 2020 (what fortuitous

timing) and haven’t looked back. This model of work allows me to recapture and reallocate my former commute time, take a break and check in with my kids in the middle of the day, and arrange my schedule with flexibility to focus on work and family as needed. When first making the pivot to virtual work, I made six initial considerations: managing and meeting client expectations, implementation of technology, cost, time management, work/life balance, and mental health. There has never been more technology available to facilitate a virtual working environment than there is now; take advantage of it! I recommend an internet phone service (like Google Voice), virtual meeting software (Zoom), e-signature software (DocuSign), document management (Adobe Acrobat DC), lead management and intake software (Clio Grow), practice management soft-

ware (Clio Manage, MyCase, etc.), cloud services (OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), and a virtual workspace with an answering service and live receptionist to accept service on your behalf. In my experience, the costs of these services is well worth the benefits you receive. Outsourcing management and admin tasks opens up more time for family and flexibility. Virtual work requires structure, dedicated work-from-home space, and can be isolating. However, for those of us wearing the lawyer hat and the parent hat, it can be transformative. Just like parenting, finding your balance is a very personal process. It is not one size fits all. Navigating parenthood and career takes work. It presents special challenges and offers great rewards and opportunities. In this issue we will explore the intersection of parenthood and the law.

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Many Hats

Continued from page 5 • Explore the interesting perspectives of three dual-generation lawyer families in Shannon Wolfrum’s article: Growing up Legal: Perspectives from Practice from Two Generations of Lawyers • Learn about designing the law firm that works for you with Jen Lee and her article: That’s Not How We Do Things (and Other Nonsense Lawyer Parents Should Ignore) • Navigate the laws around parental leave and lactation accommodations with David Marchiano, Marissa Boyd, and Danielle Jones in their article: Navigating Pregnancy, Parental

Leave, and the Return to Work (MCLE Self-Study Credit) • Discover what unique challenges and opportunities face a lawyerparent whose child needs additional support from their school district in Sabrina Axt’s article: An Attorney Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Special Education Process • Understand the adoption process with an in-depth look at private adoptions in Matthew Talbot and Pa’tanisha Davis Pierson’s article: Demystifying Private Adoption

Ariel Brownell Lee owns and operates the Law Office of Ariel Brownell, a family law firm in Walnut Creek. Ariel is a Certified Specialist in Family Law in her ninth year of practice. Ariel enjoys family law because it allows her to effect positive change in her clients’ lives. Ariel is an active member of the CCCBA. She is President of the Barristers’ Section, Board Member of the Family Law Section, past President and current Board Member of the Women’s Section, serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and serves on the Education Committee.

We hope you enjoy this issue. To all those wearing and balancing your many hats, we salute you!


• Will and Trust Litigation

• Probate & Trust Administration

• Elder Abuse

• Probate & Appeals

• Conservatorships & Guardianships

• Real Estate

• Fiduciary Representation

• Estate Planning

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

Walnut Creek: 2175 North California Blvd., Suite 424 • Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Martinez: 610 Court Street, Suite 204-206 • Martinez, CA 94553 Point Richmond: 1160 Brickyard Cove Road, Suite 103 • Richmond, CA 94801 P: 925-322-8615 • F: 925-357-3151 • Morrill.Law


JULY 2022

MORRILL LAW Trust and Estate Litigation

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Judge LaDoris Cordell (Ret.)

Civil Rights Advocate, author and first female Black judge in a Northern California state court

Additional Speakers and Programs to be Announced. Watch for more!



Growing Up

Legal By Shannon Wolfrum


JULY 2022

When a toddler starts cross-examining you, every parent who is a lawyer must say to themselves, “Oh boy. Give this kid a suit and a briefcase, I know where this is going”. In a virtual email roundtable with some Contra Costa County lawyerparent, lawyer-offspring duos we covered some of the questions that come up in families with multigenerational attorneys. Coming from a background of being a secondgeneration attorney myself, I am glad to share others’ experiences. There is a conundrum – the law is a wonderful profession; however, at some point in most of our careers we have wondered if there is not an easier way to earn a living. Merritt Weisinger and Ethan Weisinger, Karen Fenchel and Valerie Fenchel and Stan Casper and Nick Casper contributed to the lively discussion that follows.

When your son or daughter was young, did you hope he or she would become a lawyer? Merritt: Yes! I always thought Ethan would make a good lawyer. He’s a lot like me (poor guy). I actually thought my daughter Lizzy would be a lawyer, but she had the audacity to become A Licensed Clinical Psychologist – the kind of people I usually beat up on as expert witnesses in family law cases. Stan: When Nick was growing up, I had no specific hopes for him becoming a lawyer. I was one of those fortunate parents who had a kid who was highly self-motivated and seemed to excel in a lot of areas. I just went with the flow. Nick played Brom Bones in the fifthgrade play of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I thought he might have a career in acting. Nick could sink 30-foot baskets in our backyard, and I thought he might be a three-point

specialist in the NBA. He was artistic and great at mechanical drawing, so I was sure he would be an architect. Given his range of skills, becoming a lawyer just was not at the top of my list. Karen: I encouraged each of my three children to follow their own path, to make their own choices. I had no preference as to what field they chose, what road they followed. Valerie had many future objectives commencing with her desire to be a farmer after visiting Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. She loved animals and considered being a veterinarian. She considered teaching based on her love for children. Her public speaking accolades in addition to her passion for assisting people, empowering women, and making a difference for families led her to the field of family law.

Did your parent inspire you to become a lawyer? Nick: Without a doubt. My dad would frequently share twists and turns in his law practice with me, many times about cases involving serious injury or wrongful death that our firm continues to handle. The scissor lift death case; the case of the worker who fell to his death from an unguarded opening in a roof. As a kid who had a natural inclination toward the law, as well as morbid curiosity, these cases fascinated me. My dad was supportive of all my academic interests throughout my childhood and there was never even a hint that he was hoping I would follow his path into law. In the end, what I wanted to do above all else was what he did. Valerie: My parents both encouraged me to become a lawyer. From a young age, I am told I complained that life was “unfair” and advocated for the underdog. While I was growing up, I saw how becoming a lawyer empowered my mother to

Merritt and Ethan Weisinger

be a financially independent career woman who advocated for the rights of others. She has definitely been a role model for me and influenced my journey. Ethan: Yes, my father has mentored me throughout much of my life. My passion for literature and writing came from my father’s inspiration. I can also credit my father with leading me to become an attorney through years of zealous debates on all aspects of life.

At family dinners and holidays, do you find yourselves talking about the law? Karen: As a family law attorney, I sometimes discussed interesting cases, challenging clients, and unusual situations around the dinner table. When my two youngest were in high school, I opened an office next to the school, so they could walk to my office after school. They were always aware of my profession and the goals and aspirations I voiced for my clients. Merritt: Yes, quite often. It’s who I am and what I (sometimes) know, and there is so much human interest in these cases. Stan: We talked about politics and the law fairly regularly as a family. Back in the 80s and 90s I was trying a lot of cases, both criminal and civil. Inevitably, the reasons why my client should prevail got a good

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Growing Up Legal

Continued from page 9 airing with my captive audience. I guess Nick caught on to the excitement.

What strength do you most admire in your parent? Valerie: My mom is extremely ethical and built a reputation of integrity for herself and with the community. She is kind and thoughtful in her communications and interactions with others from judges, to opposing counsel to clients. When I started practicing, I noticed people spoke fondly about my mother. When my mother transitioned her practice to collaborative law and mediation and started referring her litigation cases to me, it made me feel good to hear her former clients speak so highly of my mom. I am so proud of her high success rate in mediation cases. Ethan: My father is a zealous advocate for his clients. I admire his ability to balance advocacy while achieving amicable resolutions, especially in difficult cases. My father has always said that while counsel may be adversaries, they are not enemies. I admire my father’s ability to maintain a rational debate in cases where passions are high.

Nick: There is a litany of attorney strengths I admire in my dad, but his attention to detail stands out. A significant number of cases may turn on a single document such as an email, a chart note, or an internal memo. A less meticulous practitioner may have missed that detail amidst a mountain of documents. He never skated through a case; he would put the time in to master every minute detail. My dad put painstaking preparation into every deposition, mediation, trial.

What is different about the practice of law today than it was when you began practicing? Stan: Technology, technology, technology. Like many “old timers,” I could have never imagined doing sophisticated on-line legal research, social media investigations, and e-discovery that I see as so integral to the practice today. At the start of my practice, virtually all important relationships in practice were developed in person or over long phone calls. I may be lapsing into a bit of “things were better in my day,” but in the old days, professional relationships were much more personal; however, I am less sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Karen: The number of women attorneys and judges has grown considerably. There is a comradery among women attorneys, a supportive community, as with the Women’s Section of the Bar. Women have added warmth, kindness, and humanity to the legal profession. This does not discount the brilliant and caring male jurists like the late Commissioner Jeffery Huffaker. Meritt: It’s a different world. Advertising or solicitation of cases was an offense that could result in


JULY 2022

suspension or disbarment. Today, with advertising, the law is leaning toward being a business more than a profession. The level of civility is different. Today, it all seems to be about winning or losing rather than doing the right thing, justice, and fairness. When I came out of law school having clerked for major firms for about two years, I had a civil litigation practice for many years before I began to specialize. Today people come out of law school and go right into a specialization. Unfortunately, this leaves some lawyers without knowledge of civil procedure, or any area of law outside their expertise. There is a lack of cross-pollination. There was a time when lawyers were respected as learned and knowledgeable. I worry it has become a job more than a profession or calling. Finally, we handled actual books! We had typewriters and Selectrics. I see attorneys practicing “blurb law” rather than reading and citing cases. Is it better? In some ways. Worse? In some ways.

How do you practice differently than your parent? Ethan: I have the assistance of multiple staff members to handle a greater volume of cases. It takes many people working behind the scenes to provide excellent service to clients. My father’s style as an attorney was to handle all aspects of a case. I also deal with more of my











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Shannon’s office is in Walnut Creek. Shannon spends weekends hiking and being bossed around by her two muchadored dogs.


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Until there’s a cure, people with the disease will need caregiving and legal advice. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 10% of the population age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. Of the 5.5 million people living in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s disease, the majority live at home — often receiving care from family members.

Shannon is an active member of the CCCBA, serving on the Board of Directors for the Family Law Section for the past seven years. She has taught continuing education courses for attorneys through the CCCBA and CEB and authored an article published in the California Lawyer’s Association “Family Law News” in 2020.


The average survival rate is eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s — some live as few as three years after diagnosis, while others live as long as 20. Most people with Alzheimer’s don’t die from the disease itself, but from pneumonia, a urinary tract infection or complications from a fall.

Shannon graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law and earned her undergraduate degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Before attending law school, she was an academic counselor at a private university.


Elder Law is

Nick: In baseball parlance, my dad was a “five-tool player” in that in possessed all the important skills for success. However, if a firm grasp of technology is one of those tools, he was a four-tool player. I am fortunate to have grown up in the digital age and have a natural ability to understand and utilize contemporary technology, from online legal research to searching through scanned documents using OCR. My dad is not a Luddite and always puts in the time to embrace the latest technologies, but it was more of a struggle to adapt. I definitely encountered three-ring binders filled with emails that he printed, something that has occasionally been a source of goodnatured teasing.

Shannon K. Wolfrum has practiced family law exclusively for 17 years. Shannon is a Certified Family Law Specialist (California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization) and a member of the Association of California Family Law Specialists.


Valerie: My mother preferred mediation and collaborative law. I remember her doing trial work with great success, but her passion has been in alternative dispute resolution. I enjoy litigation work. I am passionate about empowering clients and getting the legal results they deserve. If negotiation fails, I vehemently believe court intervention is the only viable option. My mom ran her firm as a solo practitioner, whereas I have hired a team of experienced litigators so that we are able to effectively handle complex litigation. I prefer the team approach to ensure we have the legal power and expertise to strategically negotiate favorable settlements and also prepare a client’s case for a favorable court outcome. In 2022, I likely have different opportunities than

my mother did, and a focus on entrepreneurship. As a firm owner, I have responsibilities to our clients and our team.

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client’s emotional turmoil, my father stuck more to the legal issues and believed a client’s emotional issues were the province of therapists.

Refer clients to the LRIS at

(925) 825-5700



That’s Not How We Do Things

(and Other Nonsense Lawyer Parents Should Ignore)

By Jen Lee Law firm owners have the joy of running a business and practicing law. Combine that with parenting and there are all sorts of challenges…and opportunities. From defining what you want in your practice to conveying your law firm design to potential clients, there are many ways to practice law and be the parents we want to be for our children. Even if you do not have your own law firm (yet?!), flexibility and thinking outside the box will help you define your balance. The very best thing about having your own law firm is that you can run your business so that it fits with the needs of your family. However, we often get stuck with a negative feedback loop when we start proclaiming those choices. Or worse, we don’t design the firm we need because of the fear of losing business or worrying about what other professionals will think of our choices. “That’s not how we do things…” is a phrase no one wants to hear about their business. 12

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But, don’t let the nay-sayers keep you from designing the firm that works for you! For example, did you know that you do not have to be open on Mondays? Or that your office hours can end at 3 p.m.? Or that you don’t have to get to the office before noon? Not only is it all in how you design your firm, but also in how you relay to clients how your office functions.

Balancing the Parenting Lifestyle with Your Law Practice Balance is probably the most overused word out there these days and you may already be rolling your eyes. Stick around for a second. Life will always be busy and crazy with kids. We go through all kinds of different stages; so, one of the keys to making your practice fit your life is to sit down and define what you need for your lifestyle to work. This step is so often overlooked in a rush to jump right into some vague definition of “balance.”

Defining What You Need for Your Ideal Lifestyle Money Several areas come to mind when narrowing down lifestyle needs. First, there is usually the money aspect. Nonsense that you probably hear includes having to work ridiculous hours to make enough money to support your family. But do you even know how much you need for your family budget? Do you have a family budget? From there, you can work backwards to figure out an hourly rate, or the number of clients you need per month, or the price you want to charge for your services to hit that budget number. Do not feel obligated to fall into the traditional legal model of billing by the hour with some high number of billable hours to achieve success.

Practice Area Some practice areas are more conducive to the flexible needs of parenting. If you are handling most of the work yourself, you may not

want a practice area that has a lot of rigid scheduling, like required court appearances. One solution to this issue is to hire an attorney who likes the court-appearance side of things. Hiring does not mean you have to account for a full-time W-2 employee, either. There are all kinds of employment including of-counsel and association relationships that allow you to focus on the parts of your practice that you want to be involved in. Again, the important part of all of this is in the plan and design.

into parenting and family time. If you are constantly stressed out with the clients, that anxiety is probably not a good lifestyle choice. This also means saying NO to clients who do not fit your ideal profile. We’ve all had those clients that your gut told you to say no to, but the other voice on your shoulder told you not to turn away a paying client. Designing your ideal practice to fit with your lifestyle means being very specific with how much you need, who you want to help, and what boundaries you draw with your practice.


Conveying Your Law Firm Design or Model

Ahhh, clients. Can’t live with them, can’t run a successful practice without them. Have you ever thought about your favorite kind of client to work with and what made them your favorite? When thinking about the balance in your life, having clients that you like working with and appreciate you takes away a ton of stress that can often bleed over

Oh my goodness. What will people think if you are not working 24/7? Do you find yourself worrying that clients only want to work with you and that you cannot escape from doing all the work because clients expect that? Once you have your ideal practice designed because you did the work and clarified your

ideal lifestyle choices, you need to confidently shout it from the rooftops that this is how your practice is run.

Some tips include: 1. Update your website with plain language about how your firm works. You don’t have to say, “I don’t work on Mondays because I don’t like Mondays.” You can say, “Our office is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We answer emails/return phone calls during regular business hours in the order received.” 2. If you have team members who will be working with clients (or that you want to work with clients because you don’t want to), include those team members on your website, on social media, and in any advertising you do. Create a welcome video that goes to new clients that introduces them to your team.

Continued on page 14



How We Do Things Continued from page 13

3. Set client expectations from the beginning. If you do not want them expecting return calls at 10 p.m., follow your office rules for responding to non-emergency calls and emails. If your business model is that you will respond within a certain amount of time because your practice area is fastmoving (maybe criminal defense or domestic violence), tell your potential clients and clients what they can expect from you. Then, live up to your design. 4. Train your referral sources on how your business model works. If you charge for consultations, your best referral sources should be sending people to you having already told the client that you charge and that the cost is well worth the advice. Referral part-


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ners that expect you to work for free either need to be trained better or are not good referral partners. 5. Thoroughly document your client experience or client workflow. Using templates, automations, and delivering a consistent experience will turn your clients into raving fans because you told them what to expect and you delivered according to your model. Be confident in what you want and need, to balance parenting with owning a law firm. Time spent in defining your lifestyle goals and then designing your practice will pay off with quality family time, less stress, and a successful practice. Too often, we spend the least amount of time on the design and just jump in

so that later we do not understand why our balance is missing. Do not listen to the nonsense of having to practice in a traditional practice area with traditional hours – unless that fits your preferred lifestyle. The more creative you get with creating a new practice area, different billing model, or other innovative idea, the more fun you will have in the business of practicing law and the joys of parenting through the years. Jen Lee is the managing attorney at Jen Lee Law, Inc. in San Ramon. She focuses her practice on helping individuals and business owners come up with effective legal and financial strategies to deal with debt and credit issues. She is also the founder of Lawyer Success Network™, helping lawyers design and build profitable practices.

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Navigating Pregnancy, Parental Leave, and the Return to Work W

by Danielle Jones, Marissa Boyd and David Marchiano Finding out you’re pregnant is perhaps, one of if not the most impactful piece of news a woman can receive. This is particularly so when you work full time – “what does this mean for my job during this pregnancy, once baby is here, and then coming back to work?” This article will provide a brief primer for employers and new parents seeking to understand the key provisions of laws and regulations surrounding pregnancy, child bonding leave, and the return to work, under both state and federal law.


Part of the barrier to understanding the rights and responsibilities associated with pregnancy and parental 16

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leave is that there are several different federal and state laws at play. Further complicating the issue, there is a difference between laws that provide job protection benefits and those that provide wage-replacement benefits. Job protection benefits ensure1 that an employee will be able to return to the same or a “comparable position” (i.e., one that is “virtually identical” in terms of pay, benefits, working conditions, duties and responsibilities, work site location, and schedules) and also prohibit retaliation or discrimination against an employee for exercising their leave rights – but they do not provide any monetary benefits. Wage replacement benefits, on the other hand, do not provide an employee with any job protection, but are designed to compensate the employee for at least part of

their wages while they are on leave. A brief summary of the major laws and regulations:

Job Protection:

Federal Law: • Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”): Applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. • American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”): Applies to employers with 15 or more employees. • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”): Applies to employers with 15 or more employees California Law: • California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”): Applies to employers with 5 or more employees statewide.

• California Pregnancy Disability Leave (“PDL”): Applies to employers with 5 or more employees statewide.

Pregnancy & Bonding Leave: Job Protection:

See Figure 1, right.

Federal: FMLA California: CFRA

Wage Replacement: Federal Law: None

California: PDL (17 1/3 Weeks/ 4 Months Max)

12 Weeks (Max) 12


California Law: • California State Disability Insurance (“SDI”): Applies to employers with one or more employees; only available to employees who have earned at least $300 from which SDI deductions were withheld during the base period. • California Paid Family Leave (“PFL”): Applies to employers with 1 or more employees; only available to employees who have earned at least $300 from which SDI deductions were withheld during the base period. See Figure 2, right. Other counties or cities may have local ordinances that offer paid parental leave benefits as well. For example, San Francisco requires employers with 20 or more employees worldwide to provide up to eight weeks of supplemental compensation to employees who receive California Paid Family Leave benefits to bond with a new child. Check your local ordinances and regulations to see if additional rules apply.


While pregnant, things may not change a whole lot for you at work, except maybe more people give up their seat while waiting for their cases to be called in the courtroom because you’re noticeably out of breath when you walk through the double doors. Or maybe it’s because you’ve waddled your way down the aisle and the look of exasperation is smeared across your face and everyone wants to help. Perhaps your little one starts playing the

29 1/3

Family and Medical Leave Act: Maximum of 12 weeks. Can be utilized during pregnancy. California Family Rights Act: Maximum of 12 weeks. Cannot be utilized during pregnancy. California Pregnancy Disability Leave: Maximum of four months total (17 1/3 weeks), only for periods where the birth mother is determined disabled by a physician. Can generally be utilized 4 weeks prior to due date. Only available to birthing mothers. * The California laws run concurrently with the federal FMLA, but consecutively with each other.

Figure 1

Pregnancy & Bonding Leave: Wage Replacement: Birth PFL

Caesarean Birth SDI 8 Weeks

4 Weeks

8 Weeks


Vaginal Birth SDI 4 Weeks

6 Weeks

8 Weeks

SDI: Typically* receive pay for 4 weeks before birth, 6-8 weeks after (depending on type of birth) PFL: Up to 8 weeks after SDI ends Both SDI and PFL replace 60 to 70% of your salary, capped at $1,540 per week (based on a taxable wage limit of $145,600).

* New/Expecting mothers can receive up to 52 weeks of benefits if there are complications before or after birth.

Figure 2

drums against your ribs causing you to hit different notes while addressing the judge. In those last few months, you’ll start seeing your doctor more regularly who will take your vitals and determine if you need to be on light duty or certified for 100% disability. It’s important to understand the changes that your body is going through, mentally and physically, so that you can adapt your daily work routine. You need to allow for extra time, extra breaks and the extra appetite that the little human growing inside of you requires.

Job Protection & Accommodations

Under federal law (FMLA), preg-

nant individuals are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave due to pregnancy-induced incapacity, including pregnancy complications and morning sickness, or prenatal care. 29 C.F.R. §§ 825.115(b), (f). Similarly, the other parent is also entitled to FMLA leave if they are required to care for a spouse who is pregnant and incapacitated or receiving prenatal care. 29 C.F.R. § 825.120(a)(5)). Note, however, that employees are only entitled to 12 weeks total during a 12-month period, so any leave taken during the prenatal period will dip into the postnatal

Continued on page 18



Navigating Pregnancy Continued from page 17

bonding time. New parents may choose to use the full 12-weeks for the postnatal period, rather than using their FMLA leave during pregnancy. Under California law, while CFRA does not consider pregnancy or pregnancy-related disability to be a qualifying health condition, employees can utilize California’s PDL during pregnancy to the extent they are not eligible for FMLA benefits. See Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(f)). Unlike the FMLA, however, spouses are not eligible for PDL benefits. Generally, doctors certify a pregnant employee as disabled under the PDL four weeks prior to their due date, but if a pregnant employee has complications during pregnancy, a doctor can certify the employee earlier if they deem it medically necessary. Again, any leave taken during pregnancy is counted against the amount of leave available for child bonding, which parents should keep in mind when deciding how to allot their parental leave

Cal. App. 4th 215, 226 (holding that “a finite leave of absence has been considered to be a reasonable accommodation under ADA”). Importantly, the court in Sanchez held that the right to take leave under the PDL is separate and distinct from the right to take leave under the FEHA, so even where an employee has exhausted their PDL, they may be entitled to additional leave as a reasonable accommodation. Id. at 1338-41.

pregnancy. See, e.g., PDA, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k) (providing no job benefits but making pregnancy discrimination illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964); Cal. Gov’t Code 12926.1; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11064(b); Cal. Gov’t Code § 12926(r)(1).

Wage Replacement

Additionally, individuals experiencing a pregnancy-related disability who are unable to do their normal job duties, as certified by their physician, may receive disability insurance benefits – the usual disability payment for a typical pregnancy begins four weeks prior to the due date (although a physician can certify to a longer disability period if there are medical complications). SDI benefits can provide employees with about 60% -70% of their wages earned (depending on income), ranging from $50 to a maximum of $1,540 per week. The benefit amount may vary if an employee receives other income (such as sick leave pay, paid time off, etc.) simultaneously with the state disability benefits.

Pregnant employees may be entitled to other reasonable accommodations as well, such as reduced work schedules, time to attend medical appointments, permission to work from home, the right to use a chair or a water bottle, or more frequent or longer breaks, including bathroom breaks or time to check blood sugar. See, e.g., Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11035, 11040, 11041; ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213 (providing for reasonable accommodations, including pregnancy-related leave, in circumstances where pregnancy or childbirth complications limit a major life activity). An employee may not be forced to take leave, transfer assignBaby Bonding ments, or reduce their duties if they Until that baby hits your chest in the do not request it, however. See, e.g., labor and delivery room, your life has Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11039(a)(1) never felt like it had more purpose – An employer may also be required to (H). and you thought the moment you provide additional leave as a reasonable accommodation for employees Pregnant employees must be treated found out it was starting to grow, life who are experiencing a pregnancy- the same as non-pregnant employees, was the most impactful! Every day, related disability under the FEHA or and it is illegal to discriminate every hour brings with it new “best the ADA.2 See Sanchez v. Swissport, against them – this includes protec- time of your life” moments. People Inc. (2013), 213 Cal. App. 4th 1331; tions against termination, job refusal, tell you to cherish it now because you Hanson v. Lucky Stores, Inc., (1999) 74 or promotion denial on the basis of can’t get the time back. But… you have to go back to work. The question though, is when? How long does your employer have to protect your job? The state only gives you six weeks if you had a vaginal birth, and eight weeks if you gave birth by cesarean. Will you be paid enough while on maternity leave? Does your employer even offer maternity leave? Is your employer required to? Did you plan financially for this “vacation?” When the time of your leave comes to an end, you’re expected to hand your baby 18

JULY 2022

to someone so that you can return to work. A stranger? Maybe your family can stay home with the little one? Maybe you started interviewing daycare centers before you got pregnant so you feel comfortable handing off that baby so you can head into the office. Regardless of your post-leave plans, the first and most pressing question is: How long are you entitled by law to stay home and bond with your new baby before you return to work?

Job Protection

Under both federal and state law, a new parent may be entitled to unpaid, job-protected leave for bonding with a newborn. The FMLA and CFRA both provide up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period – note, however, that the leave periods run concurrently with each, meaning that an employee cannot stack the leave periods. And any leave taken during pregnancy also counts against the 12 weeks.3 Either parent may be eligible for leave under the FMLA – not just the birthing parent – and such leave must be concluded within one year from the child’s birth. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11090(d); DOL Fact Sheet #28F: Qualifying Reasons for Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under California law, new mothers may also be eligible for up to four additional months of PDL leave per pregnancy—this leave runs consecutively with FMLA/CFRA leave, meaning that an employee can stack the leave periods. New mothers may only utilize this leave if they are disabled by childbirth or a related medical condition (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945(a) and Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11042(a)). And, as described above, if an employee is disabled for longer than four months because of a pregnancy-related disability, they may be entitled to additional leave under the FEHA or the ADA. See Sanchez, 213 Cal. App. 4th at 1341; 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A); Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940(m).

Wage Replacement

Beginning on the day of a child’s birth (but no later than 41 days after), a new mother can file a claim for postnatal state disability insurance benefits. Before benefits begin, there is a one-week waiting period that is unpaid. Typically, without medical complications, a mother can receive six weeks of partial wage replacement with a vaginal delivery, or eight weeks of partial wage replacement with a cesarean delivery. If there are medical complications due to the birth that prevent the employee from performing their new job duties, however, it is possible for the benefits to be extended for a total of 52 weeks if the disability is certified by a medical practitioner. In addition to SDI benefits, either parent (including the non-birthing partner) can file for Paid Family Leave benefits, which provide up to eight week of partial wage replacements so that new parents can bond with a new child during the child’s first year. Both the SDI and PFL benefits provide about 60-70% of an employee’s earnings (depending on income), ranging from $50 to a maximum of $1,540 per week. Employees may qualify even if they are seasonal, part time, or unemployed. Eligibility is based on whether the employee has paid into California SDI in the preceding 5-18 months. Self-employed employees

may also be eligible if they contribute to the Disability Insurance Elective Coverage program.

Return to Work

Now, lucky you! You get to come to work and do double duty, mind and body. Your mind is on your cases while your body continues to work to produce food for the new baby. Now you’ll need to pump during your busy day; maybe you can multi-task and catch a nap while you do it! The trick to this part is figuring out the schedule that best suits your baby’s needs – how many ounces a day does the baby need to eat? How often do your breasts fill and become engorged? Maybe you aren’t emptying each time you pump, and you get mastitis. So many things go into being a new mother while also working full time – you realize you’re working many more jobs than just two and every minute counts. New parents returning from protected leave have the right to be reinstated to the same or a comparable position. An employer may not retaliate against an employee returning from parental leave, including, for example, by reassigning them to a less favorable position, reducing their pay, or providing a pretextual negative performance evaluation.

Continued on page 20

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Navigating Pregnancy Continued from page 19

In addition to the right to be reinstated to the same or a comparable position, new parents might require accommodations upon their return to work, which the employer should grant so long as they: (1) are reasonable; (2) are recommended by the employee’s health care practitioner; and (3) would not cause an undue burden on the employer. Such accommodations could include requesting intermittent leave, or a reduced work schedule, although those accommodations may affect an employee’s PDL/CFRA leave allocation. See, e.g., Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11040(b). Finally, both the FLSA and the California Labor Code require employers to provide lactation breaks. Cal. Lab. Code § 1030; 29 U.S.C. § 207(r). Federal and state law also prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against new mothers based on lactation or expression of milk. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e; Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 12926(r) (1)(C) and 12940. In addition to providing lactation breaks, employers are also required to provide a room or other location (NOT a bathroom) where the employee can express breast milk in private. There are several requirements the lactation room must meet, including that it must: • Be in close proximity to the employee’s work area; • Be shielded from view; • Be free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk; • Be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials; 20

JULY 2022

• Must contain a surface to place a breast pump and personal items; • Must provide a place to sit; and • Must have access to electricity or alternative devices, such as extension cords or charging stations, that are needed to operate an electric or battery-powered breast pump. Cal. Lab. Code § 1031 (b)-(c). Employers are also required to provide the employee access to both a sink with running water and a refrigerator (or other cooler or suitable cooling device) in which their milk can be stored. Id. at (d).


Navigating pregnancy and new parenthood can be complicated enough without the stress of trying to understand your rights and benefits. Hopefully this guide has provided a helpful starting point for your journey. For any additional questions, please contact an employment law attorney.

1. The right to return is not completely absolute – it may be lawful to deny an employee reinstatement under limited circumstances that are unrelated to the employee’s decision to exercise their leave rights (such as a layoff resulting from a plant closure) (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11043(c)(1)). 2. Note that pregnancy itself, absent particular complications, is not by itself considered a disability under the ADA. 3. However, because CFRA does not consider pregnancy to be a qualifying health condition, leave taken pursuant to a pregnancy related disability counts only toward FMLA and PDL; consequently, if an employee were to exhaust their FMLA and PDL during pregnancy, they would still be entitled to CFRA leave to bond with their newborn.

MCLE SELF STUDY Earn one hour of MCLE credit by answering the questions on the Self Study MCLE test available our website: Send your answers along with a check ($30 per credit hour for CCCBA members/ $45 per credit hour for nonmembers), to the address on the test form. Certificates are processed within two weeks of receipt. If you prefer to receive the test form via email, contact Anne K. Wolf at or (925) 370-2540.

David Marchiano and Marissa Boyd are employment law attorneys with Brown, Gee & Wenger LLP. Mr. Marchiano and Ms. Boyd are experienced litigators who focus on complex employment litigation, including defending employers in class and PAGA actions. In addition to their litigation practice, Mr. Marchiano and Ms. Boyd provide business owners and management with advice regarding employment issues, including discipline and termination decisions, leaves of absences, and the interactive process. Mr. Marchiano has two children, ages six and three, and Ms. Boyd has a 14-month-old daughter. Danielle Jones is solo practitioner in a small office out of Martinez. She practices family law and criminal defense. She has managed having two children while being self-employed and meeting the demands of both jury trials and Zoom hearings alike.

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An Attorney Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Special Education Process

by Sabrina Axt Like many parents, my first special education meeting did not go as planned. Despite knowing I am an attorney, school officials told me that they could not evaluate my daughter for special education eligibility until she was two grade levels behind. They also told me they don’t test for dyslexia, and one person even told me that dyslexia isn’t real! I went through a year-long battle to get my daughter evaluated and finally get her an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”). Even then, very little was done


JULY 2022

to actually help my daughter learn to read and write. I felt helpless and frustrated. I would do anything to get my daughter the help she required, but I didn’t know what she needed or how to get it. My own special education experience led me to my new passion – educating and empowering other parents to effectively advocate for their children’s educational needs. What can attorney parents do to effectively advocate for their children? When should they step back and bring in a special education advocate or attorney? Here are my top three tips for parents.

Know the Rules of the Game

Most parents, even attorneys, know very little about special education. The good news is that we have all learned how to effectively research and interpret the law. You don’t need to become an expert in special education law, but parents are most effective when they know the basics. There are fantastic online resources and print media designed to educate parents about special education timelines, how to request an assessment for special education eligibility, and how to draft IEP goals. (See Wrightslaw, Disability Rights California, and Disability Rights Education Defense Fund.) Do your research. If you suspect your child has a learning disability (or perhaps they already have a medical diagnosis), the first step is to request an evaluation for special education eligibility. (Cal.Code Regs. Tit. 5, § 3021; Cal. Ed. Code §§ 56029, 56300 – 56329). Your request should provide background regarding your child’s struggles in school and your concerns. The school district then has 15 days to send you an Assessment Plan and obtain your consent to evaluate your child. (Cal. Ed. Code § 56321(a)). Once you consent to the Assessment Plan, the school district has 60 days (not counting school vacations of more than five days) to conduct the

evaluation and hold an IEP meeting to discuss its findings and review eligibility. (Cal. Ed. Code § 56344(a)). In addition to research, attorneys are well equipped to “paper the file.” The most important driver of special education eligibility and services is data collection. Collect your child’s work samples, gather all your communication with his teachers, and look at grade reports. Parents can also request a copy of their child’s education records maintained by the school district. Under Cal. Ed. Code § 56504, districts have five business days to provide you with a copy of your child’s education records. One way to gather data regarding your child is to collect your own. Watch for patterns of strengths and weaknesses when looking at your child’s schoolwork, while reading, or while doing homework. Is your child skipping or guessing words while reading? How does your child react with timed assignments? Is there a noticeable difference in your child’s oral abilities vs. written? Pay attention to subtle cues and keep a diary with your notes. When you go back and read it, you may better be able to identify patterns to share with the school team.

Know the Players

Once you understand the basic timelines of the special education system, you need to understand how your child’s disability affects their educational performance. This is particularly true if your child has a rare disability. It may be up to you to explain your child’s disability and how it impacts them in an educational setting. One of the most important things a parent can do is fully understand their child’s disability, how it impacts them, and what resources/accommodations they need to succeed. No two children are alike, and disabilities often occur on a continuum. They may show up differently in

girls than in boys. Some disabilities are commonly connected with each other (e.g., dyslexia and ADHD is a common combination). Again, there are fantastic online and print resources to help parents understand their child’s disability and how it may impact their education. Parents also need to know who the other members of the IEP team are and how they interact with the student. If your child receives pullout resource support, who is the person who provides that service? Is it a special education teacher? Paraprofessional? What level of training does that person have? Parents must not make assumptions about who provides services to their child or that the provider has proper training. I’ve seen parents assume their child was being provided with specialized reading instruction by a credentialed special education teacher when, in fact, their child was being taught by a paraprofessional or a substitute. There is no reason to anticipate that this is the case with your child, but parents should do their due diligence. Ask questions and observe the classroom and resource instruction.

Know When to Step Back

Parents can be their child’s strongest advocates, but at times they may not be the most effective. Under some circumstances, parents may want to involve a special education advocate or attorney. Parents may not agree with the school team, and they should ask tough questions. Parents should ensure that the goals developed in their child’s IEP make sense, address the child’s needs, and are objectively measurable. Parents are equal members of the IEP team and should be active participants. Special education is often a highly emotional process. To be an effective advocate for their child, parents need to remove emotion from the conversation and focus on the objective data

Continued on page 24



Surviving the Special Education Process Continued from page 23

and the law rather than airing grievances and placing blame. You must keep your cool, and some parents are simply unable to separate themselves from emotion. Remember, you don’t want to do anything that can be used against you…because it will. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some parents prefer to avoid conflict. That’s not to say that IEP meetings are combative, but everything is a negotiation. If a parent is not comfortable pushing back and standing firm in a meeting where parents are always outnumbered, that parent may encounter difficulty when advocating for their child.

Most often, parents feel overwhelmed by the entire special education process. Being a parent to a child in special education can be a fulltime job in itself. There are so many acronyms used in special education, it can feel like the rest of the team is speaking a language that parents do not understand. There are a lot of nuances to special education law, and sometimes it is difficult for parents to understand what their child needs and what is being offered. If parents don’t understand the special education process, feel outnumbered, or cannot control their emotions, hiring an advocate or attorney to help explain the process and help you advocate for your child can make all the difference.

Sabrina Axt has been an attorney for over 15 years practicing in the Bay Area. Initially, her practice focused on personal injury civil litigation matters with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to family-owned businesses. In 2017, she decided to leave her civil litigation practice in order to advocate for her own child. She now practices Special Education law exclusively. As the mother to a daughter with dyslexia, she understands that navigating the special education process can be stressful and intimidating for parents. That is why her work is driven by passion to educate and empower other parents. She is a member of the Counsel of Parents Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy (CAPCA), International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and CCCBA.

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JULY 2022



Demystifying Private Adoption

By Pa’tanisha Davis Pierson and Matthew Talbot


JULY 2022

“A year and a day.” These are the words that changed my life forever. My gynecologist informed my partner and I that since we had not conceived after trying for a year and a day, there was a high probability that one or both of us suffered from infertility. After several tests I learned that I was indeed infertile. For years I tried to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF). After spending nearly $100,000, three IVF attempts, and several miscarriages, my spouse and I decided to explore adoption. Going into it, we had no idea how complex adoption could be and were singularly focused on the reward. We jumped in headfirst and, in the end, became parents to wonderful children and learned a lot about the process along the way. Adopting a child can be a confusing and mysterious process, even to those of us well-versed in the law. Both authors of this article have adopted children and have had very different experiences creating their families. People choose adoption for various reasons. Some are not able to conceive, some are disinterested in birthing biological children, some adopt out of necessity, and some have yet other reasons. Adoptive parents, adopted children, and birthparents come from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and nearly 135,000 adoptions are finalized each year in the United States. Adoption is a permanent life decision for everyone involved and the end goal for any adoptive parent is the same: to parent a child! Adoption takes many forms: international adoption, independent private adoption, agency private adoption, stepparent adoption, and foster adoption. International adoption is the process by which children from foreign nations are adopted by United States citizens. International adoptions are governed by the Hauge Convention and children are

most frequently adopted from countries such as China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea, and Ethiopia. More than 70% of children adopted internationally are from one of these five countries. Once the child and their adoptive parents arrive in the U.S., the laws of the state for which the child will become a resident governs the finalization of the adoption process. California Family Code § 8919 requires adoptive parents who have adopted through an intercountry adoption to readopt in their home state. Unfortunately, international adoptions have decreased due to tightening restrictions in various countries known for adoption such as Russia, China, and India. Restrictions have included blanket bans on adoption.

Department of Social Services. Per Family Code § 8700, the child is technically placed with the agency who then places the child with the adoptive parents. In both agency and independent adoptions, the birth parents must be advised of their rights in an in-person meeting and then sign an adoption agreement in the presence of an adoption service provider (see Fam. Code § 8801.3). The adoption agreement must be signed after the birth mother has been discharged from the hospital. Per Family Code § 8814.5, the birth parents then have 30 days to revoke their consent to the adoption. However, that right to revoke can be waived, with such waiver signed in the presence of an adoption service provider.

Turning to private adoptions, there are two primary types of domestic private adoptions: Private Placement (Independent) Adoption or Agency Adoption. Private adoptions are governed by the California Family Code; specifically, §§8500 through 9340. Independent adoptions are adoptions arranged without the assistance of an agency. Family Code § 8801 proves the legal blueprint for independent adoptions. In this type of adoption, birth parents select the family they want to adopt their child.

In either independent or agency adoption, once the adoptive parents are chosen, they must interview with a worker authorized by the Department of Social Services to determine the appropriateness of the adoption. The interview is called the home study, which is held to determine the fitness of the adoptive parents. If all things go well, the adoption will proceed and culminate with a finalization hearing. This hearing is one of the most joyous proceedings over which a judge will preside. At this hearing, the judge signs the adoption order, sealing the initial birth certificate and ordering the issuance of a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents’ names on the document. This process concurrently terminates any parental rights that the birth parents have to the child.

Family Code § 8801 states, in pertinent part: “(a) The selection of a prospective adoptive parent or parents shall be personally made by the child’s birth parent or parents and may not be delegated to an agent. The act of selection by the birth parent or parents shall be based upon personal knowledge of the prospective adoptive parent or parents.” Agency Adoption is similar to an independent adoption, but with an adoption agency as a middleman for the process. The agency may be a private adoption agency or the

Private placement adoptions, as described herein, represent the ideal adoption, meaning the biological parents of the child have agreed to put their child up for adoption and consent to placement with the child’s adoptive parents. However, there are many situations where the

Continued on page 28



Demystifying Private Adoption

Continued from page 27 process is more complicated, such as in a situation where a birth parent cannot be found or refuses to relinquish their parental rights. In the first example, the prospective adoptive parents must prove due diligence in finding the birth parent prior to the hearing. If the court is satisfied with the due diligence, the birth parents’ parental rights can be terminated. In the second example, if one of the birth parents contests involuntary termination of their parental rights, they have a right to have an attorney appointed to represent their interests. Generally, the case turns on whether the contesting parent is unfit to parent, is not actually the biological parent of the child, or has abandoned the child. Regarding an unfit parent, the court looks at various factors to determine fitness to parent. Disputes over paternity of the contesting birth parent can be resolved by a paternity test. If abandonment is the basis for termination, the court looks to see if one or both birth parent(s) failed to provide support to the child or communicate with the child and/or other birth parent for specific periods of time (see Fam. Code § 7822). In most cases, once the birth mother is discharged from the hospital, the birth parents sign a document confirming the adoption and irrevocably waiving their right to revoke consent. Once this document is signed, the balance of the process is generally a rubber stamp. However, rubber stamping is not always the case, and a party may seek litigation to terminate the adoption or the process. Litigation is a very lengthy, 28

JULY 2022

cumbersome, emotional, and expen- Conservatorship, guardianship, elder sive process that has a lasting effect abuse, and Medi-Cal eligibility since he on the families involved. passed the bar at age 24. While the adoption process can be stressful and complicated, it generally turns into one of the most satisfying experiences a person has with the legal system. If you are looking to start the adoption process, finding a qualified adoption agency and/or adoption attorney will help minimize the emotional nature of the process. They can help prepare the birth parents for their own challenges, which can minimize issues over relinquishment after the birth of the child. Those early days after the birth of the child can be extremely stressful and emotional and having qualified professionals in place to ensure a smooth transition can be the difference between a successful adoption and a failed one. The very best conclusion to the process is calling a child your very own! Matthew Talbot is an attorney in Walnut Creek and the owner of Talbot Law Group. He has been practicing in the field of estate planning, probate, trusts, administration, litigation,

Pa’tanisha Davis Pierson is an attorney and author of Barren, But Not Broken: A Guide from Infertility to Adoption. Pa’tanisha is a Partner with Key Counsel, P.C., along with her husband Michael. Her primary practice areas include Probate, Guardianships, Conservatorships, Housing, Civil Litigation, and Adoption. Pa’tanisha has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Historic Tuskegee University, a Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology/Change Leadership from California School of Professional Psychology, and Juris Doctor from John F. Kennedy University. She is an educator; having taught Legal Methods at her Law School Alma Matter, trial skills in a summer program with the California Youth Development League (CYDL), and Criminal Justice at San Leandro High School. Pa’tanisha currently serves as the Secretary on the Executive Board for California Women Lawyers, serving as Affiliate Governor and Chair of the DEI Committee; Board Member of the CCCBA; CCCBA Women’s Section as the Past President, and a member of the CCCBA Diversity Committee.

Celebrating Lunar New Year On April 21, the CCCBA got together at Sichuan House in Walnut Creek for a belated celebration to welcome the Year of the Tiger. The gathering was very special, as it was one of the first in-person since the pandemic.

Top Row: CCCBA Executive Director Theresa Hurley, with newly appointed Judge Colleen Gleason and Cary McReynolds. Right 2021 CCCBA President Dorian Peters with Farrah Hussein and Judge Joni Hiramoto. Second Row: Judge Hiramoto, Alice Cheng, newly appointed Judge Glenn Kim and Commissioner Palvir Shoker. Right Justice Terence Bruiniers (ret.) with Judge Benjamin Reyes and Theresa Hurley. Bottom Row: CCCBA President Ericka McKenna with President Elect David Erb. Dave Parnall, Nicole Ramos Takemoto and Matt Talbott. Law school chums Kristen Tabone and Luis Ramirez.



Dual Judicial Induction Ceremonies Congratulations to Judges Jennifer Lee and Kirk Athanasiou on their official inductions to the Contra Costa County Superior Court Bench on Friday, June 3.

Judge Jennifer Lee accepts the gavel presented by CCCBA President Elect David Erb.

Judge Lee took the oath of office from Judge James Brandlin (Ret.), of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Judge Lee’s sister, Amy Feitelberg

Judge Christopher Bowen was the Master of Ceremonies.

Judge Kirk Athanasiou is congratulated by CCCBA President Elect David Erb.

Judge Kirk Athanasiou takes the oath of office, administered by Judge Joni Hiramoto.

Getting a little help with his robe.


JULY 2022


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Demystifying Disability:

How to Combat Ableism and Be an Ally Join us for a 90-minute in-depth Zoom conversation with Emily Ladau, disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. At age 10, Emily’s career began with appearances on Sesame Street where she educated kids about life with a physical disability. Emily is the co-host of The Accessible Stall Podcast, and is the author of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally. Registration information to follow in September. Attendance will be free. Mark your calendars now!




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.

July 11 - August 12


Food From the Bar This year marks the 31st annual Food From the Bar drive benefiting the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.Stay tuned for details on how you can join us in this friendly competition by creating a team (for your firm, company, or organization) and encouraging those around you to donate. With every $1 raised, the Food Bank can provide TWO meals, so each donation makes a big impact! Over the years, Food From the Bar has raised enough for more than 2.8 million meals. Please lend a hand to help feed the hungry in our community. Register: Online at

July 17 | Wellness Committee Hike with the Wellness Committee at the Dr. Aurelia

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland


A CCCBA Member Information Program

Medicare Made Simple: Understanding the Maze of Medicare Speaker: Laurna Balahan Learn about the different parts of Medicare, eligibility, coverage options/costs, enrollment periods, and how to enroll. Before entering the maze of Medicare, education is crucial. This presentation addresses the alphabet soup of turning 65 and planning the transition to Medicare and a Medicare supplement. Questions will make this presentation interesting and lively! Time: Noon – 1:15 pm, Zoom meeting

#2 ABOTA’s Civility Matters

Speakers: Hon. Barry Baskin | Paul Caleo | Charles Geerhart | John F. Vannucci Join us for an interactive program on what really matters in litigation in trial. Incivility in litigation – civil or criminal – rarely benefits anyone. Watch actual film clips, see the transcript and emails, and listen to experienced litigators, a judge and mediator share practical advice for effectively dealing with incivility in civil and criminal cases. Sponsored by: ADR Services, Inc. Time: Noon 1:15 pm, Webinar MCLE: 1 hour Legal Ethics MCLE credit

Practice/Small Firm July 26 | Solo Section

July 26 | CCCBA

HIRING: The When, What and How of Hiring for Small Law Firms - Law Firm Operations

CCCBA Goes to the Ball Park 2022 - Houston Astros vs. Oakland A’s

Roundtable with Diane Camacho

Time: 9:00 am - 11:30 am

Register: Online at

JULY 2022

CCCBA’s Attorneys Behaving Series

Cost: $25 for CCCCBA members, $40 non members, $15 for members of the Barristers Section

Speaker: Diane L. Camcacho

Register: Online at

Education July 14 | Committee

Cost: Free for CCCBA members, $15 non members

This park is a hidden gem, a stately forest of 150-foot coast redwoods. We will gather at 9:00 am for coffee, snacks and conversation and will leave for the hike at 9:30 am. The hike will take approximately 2 hours in a 4-mile loop through mostly shady trails and a 600-foot elevation gain. Family, friends and dogs-on-leash are welcome! Location: Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, 7867 Redwood Rd., Oakland


July 13

How to decide if it is time to hire. What options are there for “employees.” Where to find good employees Time: Noon - 1:15 pm, Zoom meeting Cost: Free for CCCBA members, $15 non members

Our Oakland A’s at home against the Houston Astros. The game begins at 6:40 pm. Your ticket includes a Field Infield Level Box Seat, a delicious catered tailgate and some ballpark appropriate libations. CCCBA gets a group rate for parking of $20 per car. You can add a parking pass when you register. Time: 4:30 pm – 10:00 pm Location: Oakland Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland Cost: $65 per person Register: Online at

August 16


A CCCBA Member Information Program

Social Security: Exploring Your Options Speaker: Jarrad J. DiMaggio A look at Social Security and the different options available to individuals and couples. Time: Noon – 1:15 pm, Zoom meeting Cost: Free for CCCBA members, $15 non members Register: Online at

August 17

| Elder Law Section

Trust and Conservatorships – Interplay Between Administrations Speaker: Joe Morrill Learn about the interplay between trusts and conservatorships, particularly where the trustee and conservatorship are different individuals. What does a conservator do when the trustee is the one who controls the purse strings? What are the conservator’s responsibilities separate from the trustee? Time: Noon - 1:15 pm, Webinar MCLE: 1 hour General credit Cost: Free for members of the Elder Law Section, $15 for members of the Estate Planning & Probate and the Barristers Sections, $30 CCCBA members, $45 non members

August 18

| DEI Committee

Racial Reconciliation Forum 2022: A Pathway to a More Inclusive Contra Costa Legal Community Speakers: TBA Please join us for a vitally important discussion on racial inclusion in the Contra Costa County legal community. Time: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm, (tent) Zoom Hybrid MCLE: 1.5 hours General MCLE credit Location: On Zoom and CCCBA Building Conference Room, 2300 Clayton Road, First Floor, Concord Cost: Free for all Register: Online at

August 18

| Education Committee

CCCBA’s Attorneys Behaving Series #3 PRACTICAL REPORTING MECHANISMS AND MISSTEPS: How to get it done right! Speakers: Hon. Steve Austin, Ret | Hon. George Hernandez, Ret. From their perspective, the judges will offer practical advice on fulfilling reporting obligations in relation to other attorneys, and even judges, getting down to the business of how to do this. They will share information on the training bench officers undergo, and their own obligations, and give examples of reallife situations and how they resolved them. Sponsored by: ADR Services, Inc. Time: Noon 1:15 pm, Webinar MCLE: 1 hour Legal Ethics MCLE credit

Register: Online at

Cost: $25 for CCCCBA members, $40 non members, $15 for members of the Barristers Section

August 21

August 24

| Women’s Section

| Bankruptcy Section


CCCBA’S 2nd Annual Family Fun Day

HOW DO I DISCHARGE THAT? Solving Tricky Tax Issues in Bankruptcy Cases

Celebrate Summer with the Women’s Section!

Speakers: Corrine Bielejeski | John Faucher

Time: Noon – 4:00 pm Location: Pleasant Hill Park, 147 Gregory Lane, Picnic Area #3 Details to come. Check the calendar at

What do you do with tax liens, business taxes, and the tax bill your clients expect to get as soon as they file their most recent return? Is a bankruptcy the right place for them or would they be better off making a deal with the taxing agencies? Bring your questions and problem cases for a Q&A at the end. Time: Noon – 1:15 pm, Webinar MCLE: 1 hour General credit Cost: $15 for members of the Bankruptcy and Barristers Sections | $30 CCCBA members | $45 non members 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


Estate Planning & August 25 | Probate Section

September 9 | Women’s Section

Business September 14 | Law Section

EPP Section Social at Five Suns Brewing


Business Law 101 Series: Creditors Rights | Bankruptcy | Winding Up a Business

Come celebrate the end of summer with your fellow Estate Planning and Probate Section members. Beverages and delicious food will be provided. Time: 5:00 pm –7:00 pm Location: Five Suns Brewing, 626 Main St, Martinez Cost: Free for members of the Estate Planning & Probate Section, $20 CCCBA members, $35 non members Register: Online at

2022 Women’s Section Annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Scholarship Fundraiser For over 20 years, the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Women’s Section has hosted this event, which provides scholarships to law students with demonstrated financial need, interest in women’s issues, leadership promise and a connection to Contra Costa County. Without these scholarships our recipients may not otherwise be able to pursue or continue with their higher education. Come and enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres while you bid on amazing silent auction items. We hope to see you at this fabulous fundraising event! Time: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Business Law Section In-Person Happy Hour at Jack’s in Pleasant Hill Please join the Business Law Section Board for a very happy HAPPY HOUR! Hooray! No Host Bar. Appetizers included. Questions? Please contact Marta Vanegas Time: 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm Location: Jack’s, 60 Crescent Drive, Pleasant Hill Cost: $10 CCCBA members, $20 non members Register: Online at

Cost: Free for members of the Business Law section | $15 for Barristers and Real Estate section members | $10 for law students | $20 CCCBA members, $45 non members Sign Up: Online at

September 29 | CCCBA Bar Fund Benefit in Support

Please welcome the following new members who joined the CCCBA between April 5, 2022 and June 17, 2022

of Richmond High School Law Academy

For the past 30 years, Contra Costa County Bar Association’s BAR FUND has been proudly raising awareness of the need for pro bono legal services and assistance for low income members of our community. This year we will be fundraising for the Richmond High School Law Academy. The 2022 Hon. James J. Marchiano Distinguished Service Award and the 2022 Pro Bono Honor Roll will be presented at this event. Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm Location: Lafayette Veterans Memorial Center, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette

See page 25 for more information.

JULY 2022

MCLE: 1.5 hours General credit

Cost: TBD

Cost: Before Sept 9: $60 for non profit attorneys and Barristers, $70 CCCBA members, free for law students


Time: Noon - 1:15 pm, Webinar

Welcome New Members

Location: Round Hill Country Club, 3169 Round Hill Road, Alamo

Business September 15 | Law Section

Speakers: Corrine Bielejeski | Matthew Olson | David Pearson | Cheryl Rouse | Marta Vanegas

Dana Bass Narayan Bhandari Kevin Blair Jeffrey Clark Toni Coaston Karen Davis Celina Dobee Jonathan Ezell Hanni Fakhoury Alana Grice Conner Mark Hooshmand Jennifer Jaynes Geoffrey Kasler Lance Kubo

Gregg Lehman Eric Leroy Stephen Lin Arsh Mehan Emma Nicholls Cristina PerezAbelson Daniel Roberts Jessie Slafter Kristy Thornton Joel Toler Stephanie Wargo Samuel Welles

Welcome Summer!

The 2022 All Section Summer Mixer is Back! June 9 at Calicraft – The Taproom in Walnut Creek

Thank you to Our Sponsors:

Bay Area Family Law Center | The Law Office of Ariel Brownell | Candelaria P. C. | Law Offices of Joseph H. Wolch | Wapnick Family Law | Law Offices of Shannon K. Wolfrum | Dublin Mazda CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520 Concord, CA 94520


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 nonlegal 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 give-back/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