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When I first started practicing family law 25 years ago, I did so because I wanted to be in a field where I felt I could make a difference in people's lives and where I could actually feel like I was helping them. While I found my first decade or so of litigation practice rewarding in the sense that I learned a great deal, I also found it to be counterintuitive.
I felt that so much of the decision-making was being left to an overburdened legal system and the most important people: the spouses and/or partners, the mothers, the fathers, and most significantly, the children, had a very limited ability to truly participate in what would lead to life-long decisions for their family.
People often ask me: how do I find the right lawyer and how do I find the right process? Finding the right lawyer to me is about finding the person you feel confident in and comfortable with. The person that you decide to work with will be a big part of your life for what is a painful but hopefully relatively brief time. So it is important that you connect with this person. As to process, my advice is to explore all of the options and follow the path that will best meet your individual and collective needs and one that allows for the best outcome for you and your family. While the law is important, I believe that what is most important is for people going through the end of a relationship to find a resolution that allows them to start a positive new chapter in their lives.
To my mind, the Collaborative Process provides the best possible framework for people to find creative solutions and make positive and goal-oriented decisions with the support and expertise of the team that they work with.
A little about me: I am one of two partners in the family law department in my firm. I practice family law including mediation, Collaborative Law, negotiation of premarital and post marital agreements, negotiation of custody and parenting plans, and complex financial and support negotiations. I also practice estate planning. I was graduated from University of California, Davis (B.A., Psychology and Sociology 1989), and earned my law degree at Golden Gate University School of Law (J.D., 1992). I am a member of the State Bar of California, the San Francisco Bar Association - Family Law Section, the Marin County Bar Association - Family Law Section, Queens Bench, the Collaborative Law San Francisco practice group, Collaborative Law Marin practice group, and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. I have served as a private mediator and serve regularly as a settlement conference master for the Superior Court of San Francisco.