Meet Your 2016 Section Leaders

Meet Your 2016 Section Leaders

 

Alternative Dispute Resolution Section

Ron Mullin’s practice specializes in the areas of real estate, construction, commercial and contract law, estate planning, trusts, probates and litigation. He was president of the CCCBA in 2010.

The ADR Section’s mission is to provide opportunities for ADR practitioners to gather together and share information and experiences, as well as to provide educational opportunities for practitioners and for attorneys in general.
They sponsor MCLE Spectacular programs with well-known presenters such as Fania Davis, Miki Kashtan and local judges and mediators. They also provide educational opportunities in the form of roundtable discussions and CLE programs.

The section board members also take an active role in monitoring potential changes to arbitration and mediation laws and communicate on a personal basis regarding consensus positions of the board related to those issues.

How has being a member of the ADR Section enhanced your practice?

Being a member of the ADR Section has enhanced my practice by providing numerous educational opportunities. We have informative guest speakers, such as well-known mediator, Steven Mehta, who spoke at our annual meeting, and continuing education sessions such as the “Mediating with Self-Represented Litigants,” which was offered recently and fulfilled the CLE requirement to participate in the court-sponsored mediation program.

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Appellate Section

Gary Watt is a partner at Archer Norris in Walnut Creek. An appellate lawyer and law professor at UC Hastings, Gary handles writs and appeals in all California appellate courts, including the Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

How has being a member of the Appellate Section enhanced your practice?

The Appellate Section provides lawyers with insights on thorny statutory and common law issues by putting on MCLE seminars that include sitting Court of Appeal justices as panelists.

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Bankruptcy Law Section

David Arietta is a native San Franciscan and attended Saint Ignatius College Preparatory. He graduated from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley with a degree in finance and accounting and then went on to graduate from UC Davis School of Law. David is a certified specialist in bankruptcy law and his practice encompasses comprehensive bankruptcy representation for individuals and businesses in Chapters 7, 11 and 13.

How has being a member of the Bankruptcy Section enhanced your practice?

Being a sole practitioner, it has been important to have a network of local bankruptcy attorneys with whom I can bounce around ideas. The section allows all of us to come together at various events throughout the year.

The section has consistent educational programs which helps keep all of us up to date in this ever changing area of practice. The section also allows its members the opportunity to take on leadership roles such as being an officer or a director.

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Barristers/Young Lawyers Section

Marta Vanegas is a plaintiff’s employment and civil rights attorney at the Law Offices of John F. Martin. She graduated UC Davis School of Law in 2011, and worked previously as deputy legislative counsel in Sacramento. She is the immediate past president of the Women’s Section and has previously been the chair of the Barristers Section. Marta lives in Concord with her husband and two daughters.

How has being a member of the Barristers/Young Lawyers Section enhanced your practice?

As relatively new practitioners, it is important for all of us to feel welcome, build relationships, find friends with whom to flesh out ideas, find resources and seek advice. As attorneys in small practices or as solos, we thrive on good community reputation and referrals.

All of these goals can be achieved through membership and participation in the Barristers Section. The section also focuses on educational, community and social events especially targeted for new practitioners.

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Business Law Section

Kent Parr spent the first half of his career practicing business and real estate litigation. His focus is now on business and commercial transactions in a solo setting.

Kent volunteers at a soup kitchen in Pittsburg every Wednesday and holds down the baritone slot in the award-winning HouseBlend quartet.

How has being a member of the Business Law Section enhanced your practice?

I treasure the professional and personal contacts I have made with experts in the field who represent a vast variety of talent and experience. You can’t tap into this kind of resource with books and articles alone. The personal contacts make a difference.

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Criminal Law Section

Mary P. Carey has practiced law in Contra Costa County for 29 years. She served as a deputy public defender in the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office for 18 years, representing children and adults accused of crime.

She has managed a thriving private practice in Walnut Creek for over 10 years specializing in criminal, juvenile and civil litigation. Mary has extensive jury and bench trial experience.

How has being a member of the Criminal Law Section enhanced your practice?

Being a member of the Criminal Law Section has given me the opportunity to learn from local criminal practitioners in our monthly MCLE luncheons. Whether it is the use of technology in the courtroom, new statute updates or immigration issues, the Criminal Law Section lawyers have a willingness and bounty of information to share.

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Elder Law Section

Michael LaMay’s practice focuses on trust and estate litigation, financial elder abuse litigation, contested conservatorship litigation, trust administration, probate, conservatorships and estate planning.
He assists clients in all aspects of contentious trust, estate and conservatorship matters, including client counseling, settlement negotiations, mediation and litigation through trial.

How has being a member of the Elder Law Section enhanced your practice?

Generally, there are two areas of practice that we refer to as elder law. The first is transactional work, closely related to estate planning, which often focuses on eligibility for various benefits, such as Medi-Cal.

The second is litigation, both financial elder abuse and physical elder abuse/neglect. In addition, elder law often overlaps with other practice areas when a client, or interested party, is over the age of 65.

Given the breadth of what is, or can become, an elder law issue, and the increasing portion of the population considered elders, my practice has greatly benefitted from my membership in the Elder Law Section because of the information sharing and networking it has allowed.

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Employment Section

Marjorie Wallace’s solo practice in Martinez represents individual public and private employees in employment discrimination, whistleblower and wage law matters.

The reason she went to law school still gets her out of bed each morning: Namely, to work to push back barriers preventing equal opportunity for all Americans and to ensure a thriving middle class. Her typical client is a middle-class individual, working in either the private or public sector, who has a discrimination and/or wage and hour claim.

Marjorie is a former business litigator and law professor with a J.D. from UC Hastings, an LL.M. from Yale Law School, an M.S. in information science from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. from UCLA.

How has being a member of the Employment Section enhanced your practice?

The Employment Section’s content-rich MCLE events helps keep me up to date on the ever changing employment law landscape. The networking opportunities are both enjoyable and a chance to expand my connections.

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Estate Planning & Probate Section

Virginia M. George is a partner at Steele, George, Schofield & McCormick, LLP. Prior to joining the firm, she sat as a judge pro tem in the Probate Department of Contra Costa Superior Court.

Before her time on the bench, Virginia worked as a full-time professor at JFK University College of Law, teaching evidence, criminal procedure and wills and trusts. While at JFK, she supervised JFK’s Elder Law Clinic, which provided pro bono services to elders who had been financially abused. Virginia began her legal career as a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County.

How has being a member of the Estate Planning & Probate Section enhanced your practice?

The opportunity to interact with probate and trust lawyers from around the county has enhanced my knowledge of important issues that confront us in our practice areas as well as develop an expanding network of colleagues. The Estate Planning & Probate Section is a collegial group that offers a variety of opportunities to attorneys practicing in the areas of probate, estate planning, conservatorship, guardianship and trust law.

Our programs begin in January each year at the Contra Costa Country Club with the annual Probate Bench Luncheon. The section offers members the ability to network and learn the latest about the ever-changing law in these intriguing areas of practice.

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Family Law Section

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Daniel S. Harkins is the incoming president of the Family Law Section. This is Dan’s third term as president of the section. Dan has been a member of the Contra Costa County Bar Association for about 30 years. He has been on the board of directors of the Family Law Section for over 15 years.

How has being a member of the Family Law Section enhanced your practice?

The continuing education provided by the Family Law Section is invaluable as are the contacts with the other members. A membership in the section is essential to the practice of family law.

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Intellectual Property Section

As the head of the CCCBA IP Section for the past several years, Stuart West and the IP section members in conjunction with the Women’s Initiative Program have assisted hundreds of solo inventors and small startup companies with their intellectual property needs on a pro bono basis.

Additionally, as a practicing patent attorney since 1999, licensed in the U.S., U.K. and Europe, Stuart has assisted small-scale and multinational clients with patent, trademark and copyright matters around the world.

How has being a member of the Intellectual Property Section enhanced your practice?

The IP section is on the cutting edge of law changes that impact all areas of business. Approximately five times per year, the IP section presents topical presentations on current intellectual property issues that are of general interest or are of high importance to practitioners in the IP field. We hold our meetings during the breakfast hour in a centrally-located conference room in Walnut Creek and meetings are concluded by 9 a.m., so that you can get topical information on current issues and then get to work by a reasonable time.

The up-to-date information coupled with convenient time allows our members to keep current on industry practice with a minimum of disruption to billing.

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Juvenile Law Section

Rhonda Wilson-Rice is an attorney practicing in Pittsburg.

How has being a member of the Juvenile Law Section enhanced your practice?

As a member of the Juvenile Law Section, I attend our section trainings, which keep me up to date on changes in the law. I have a network of colleagues and judges I see on a regular basis, who are aware of my training and expertise, and who (I hope) are confident in my abilities.

Most of my work is court appointed, so being a member of the section helps give validity to private clients who may be seeking my services.

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Litigation Section

 

Geoffrey Steele is a partner at Steele, George, Schofield & McCormick, LLP. He is a civil litigator, with an emphasis on real property and financial elder abuse.

Justin Schnitzler, Litigation Section Co-chair

Justin Schnitzler is a partner at Ring Hunter Holland & Schenone, LLP. Justin’s practice is widespread in his representation of public entities, large-scale developers, commercial landlords and companies in all stages of complex commercial and real estate litigation.

How has being a member of the Litigation Section enhanced your practice?

Geoffrey: The Litigation Section is the one section that crosses over most of the other disciplines, covering a wide variety of legal issues, including insights regarding practicing before the Contra Costa courts. The Litigation Section’s MCLE programs and mixers have been great opportunities for me to meet attorneys that I might not otherwise have gotten to know.

In addition, the Litigation Section is involved in several of the pro bono workshops in Contra Costa County. These workshops have afforded me many great opportunities to hone my skills and give back to the community.

Justin: My membership in the Litigation Section has enhanced my practice by providing extensive educational opportunities and great interactions with my peers that would not otherwise occur in my day-to-day work life.

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Real Estate Section

Katie R. Jones is a shareholder in Miller Starr Regalia’s Walnut Creek office. She represents developers, property owners and national and regional retailers in a variety of real estate transactions.

Katie’s practice focuses on negotiating and drafting retail, office and industrial leases, acquisitions and dispositions, and homeowner association policies. In addition, Katie has represented clients in a broad range of litigation matters, with a special emphasis on commercial lease disputes and eminent domain issues.

How has being a member of the Real Estate Section enhanced your practice?

Over the past several years, I have developed a strong local network of fellow real estate attorneys, each with varying specialties in real estate law. Additionally, the Real Estate Section’s monthly breakfast meetings include an educational component with presentations on current real estate law topics, enabling me to stay better informed on new developments related to my practice area.

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Solo Practice & Small Firm Section

Andrew J. McCall is a recognized divorce attorney in Contra Costa and Solano counties, and has been since 1999. He enjoys resolving cases successfully for clients and helping them move on with their lives. He has been a member of CCCBA since 1998, and has been a sole practitioner since 2002.

The Solo Practice & Small Firm Section evolved from the recognition that many sole and small firm practitioners desired and at times needed the camaraderie, intellectual stimulation and informational exchange that attorneys generally find in larger law firms.

By having consistent networking and fellowship opportunities, the section has evolved into a collegial organization resembling a “firm,” with specialists in various fields both willing and capable to offer assistance to other section members.

Section members are entitled to full use of the JFK Law Library, allowing members to have cost-effective and convenient access to legal resources. Section members receive a monthly email newsletter, The Maverick, informing them of upcoming events, providing topical articles and a forum for comments and commentary, and collaterally an email listserv for use by the members.

The section hosts after work mixers and breakfasts, on alternating months, which are open to both members and non-members. The section also participates in CCCBA’s MCLE Spectacular each November.

How has being a member of the Solo Practice & Small Firm Section enhanced your practice?

Being a member of the Solo Practice & Small Firm Section has enhanced my practice by providing fun, informal networking events each month, where I’ve met many other sole and small firm practitioners. Referrals are occasionally passed from such meetings as well.

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Student Section

Eliza Jasinska is a third-year law student at JFK University College of Law and is also a licensed registered nurse, a licensed realtor, as well as a California licensed professional fiduciary.

She currently works at the Contra Costa Senior Legal Services Elder Law Clinic and maintains a private fiduciary practice in Moraga. Eliza is looking forward to graduating from law school and passing the bar. Her practice will concentrate on health law, family law, elder law and estate planning.

Roxana Ayala, Student Section Co-chair

Roxana Ayala is a fourth-year student at JFK University College of Law, expecting to graduate in May 2016, and receive a Juris Doctor. She currently works as a law clerk for Dowe Law Firm in Richmond, which specializes in immigration and bankruptcy. She has been there for over a year, focusing primarily on immigration law, as she plans to make that her main practice area upon graduation.

Roxana and her husband are proud parents of their 10-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. They love biking and going to the movies as a family.

How has being a member of the Student Section enhanced your legal education?

The CCCBA Student Section engages students and attorneys in countless networking and mentorship opportunities. With all of the sections that CCCBA offers, the law student members have the opportunity to explore areas of potential practice, ask specific questions, interview and intern.

The CCCBA is bridging the gap between law school and real life practice opportunities through mentorship, internships and networking events.

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Taxation Section

Christina Weed has been the chair of the Taxation Section since 2013. Christina’s solo practice focuses on tax law, estate planning and litigation.

How has being a member of the Taxation Section enhanced your practice?

Being a member of the Taxation Section gives me the opportunity to learn about current events for relatively low cost. It has also increased the network of colleagues I can turn to as I encounter new and evolving issues in my practice.

Membership in the Taxation Section is great for those who are eager to learn, or who would like to obtain practical advice from colleagues or discuss current tax topics. Our meetings include lunch and a tax presentation offering tax specialization and/or general MCLE credit. We are always happy to receive new and enthusiastic members.

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West County Section

Karen Juster Hecht, West County Section Co-chair

Karen Juster Hecht became a lawyer so that she could help people. Her career path has included general civil litigation and business; she now practices family law in order to fulfill her goal of helping clients through difficult times.

In addition to practicing law, she enjoys her three children and she pursues her passion for writing and photography. Karen loves being outside, walking, hiking and biking around the beautiful Bay Area.

Adrienne Haddad, West County Section Co-chair

Adrienne Haddad has been practicing law for four years—primarily family, but also the occasional civil and criminal matter. She is especially interested in collaborative law and helping clients resolve their disputes with as little drama as possible.

That said, she does enjoy arguing (advocating) when necessary! In her spare time, Adrienne enjoys playing coed softball, throwing darts and singing a mean karaoke song now and again. She is excited to continue to get to know the community of attorneys active in the West County Section.

How has being a member of the West County Section enhanced your practice?

Karen: The speakers at our section lunches are often sitting judges in Contra Costa County and they offer insights into what the courts look for in certain types of cases. Our lunches and other section sponsored events are a lot of fun! Section members are able to network with each other, potentially meeting a new business partner, a new client, or a new professional to whom you can refer overflow cases. The MCLE credits earned locally (no need to drive to Walnut Creek) enhance your practice with new and important information.

Adrienne: Being a member of the West County Section has enhanced my practice by keeping me connected to the community—over half my clients reside in West County.

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Women’s Section

Mika Domingo is an associate attorney with Watson, Hoffe & Hass, practicing probate, corporate law, business law, estate planning, real property and wills and trusts administration. Previously, she served as a deputy attorney general, representing the state in civil rights litigation.

For over two years, Mika has been an appointee to the State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners. Prior to law school, she worked as a financial auditor and publisher for over 10 years.

How has being a member of the Women’s Section enhanced your practice?

Being a member of the Women’s Section has provided me with excellent peer-to-peer networking opportunities, leading to referrals. I’ve also been able to expand my legal network and build relationships with judges, public sector attorneys, and other professionals I would not normally meet. Through the MCLE programs, I stay informed about significant cases, recent decisions and legislative changes that impact my practice.

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Learn more about each CCCBA section.

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