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Best Lawyers


Posted on June 9, 2006


You may not be former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, trying to dodge corruption charges, or Jessica Simpson, navigating a high-profile divorce. But chances are you, too, will need some legal help someday, perhaps to settle a dispute with a neighbor, review a contract or help you write a will.


With more than 130,000 practicing attorneys in California and 7,192 in Sacramento County alone, the choices are practically limitless. Let us help.


We have secured rights from Woodward/White, Inc., which publishes The Best Lawyers in America, to print the names of the 72 Sacramento-area attorneys who appear in its 2006 edition.


Published since 1983, Best Lawyers lists attorneys in 57 specialties who have been chosen through an exhaustive survey in which thousands of the nation’s top lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The current edition of Best Lawyers is based on more than 1.5 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. Attorneys are chosen for inclusion in Best Lawyers only by a vote of their peers. Listings cannot be bought, and no purchase is required to be included.


Following are the Sacramento-area attorneys who made the list, along with some advice about hiring and firing a lawyer, and a few quotes from some of the “best.”


-These lists are excerpted from The Best Lawyers in America® 2006, which includes listings for more than 28,000 lawyers in 57 specialties, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Best Lawyers in America® is published by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC, and can be ordered directly from the publisher. For information, call (803) 648-0300; write 129 First Ave., SW, Aiken, SC 29801; e-mail info@bestlawyers.com or visit bestlawyers.com. Online subscriptions to Best Lawyers databases are available at bestlawyers.com.

* Woodward/White, Inc., has used its best efforts in assembling material for this list but does not warrant that the information contained herein is complete or accurate, and does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause. All listed attorneys have been verified as being members in good standing with their respective state bar associations as of Sept. 1, 2005, where that information is publicly available. Consumers should contact their state bar for verification and additional information prior to securing legal services of any attorney.

-Appellate Law
Jay-Allen Eisen, Jay-Allen Eisen Law Corporation, 980 Ninth St., 19th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 444-6171

Charity Kenyon, Riegels Campos & Kenyon, 2500 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 220, Sacramento, CA 95833;(916) 779-7100


-Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law
Steven H. Felderstein, Felderstein Fitzgerald Willoughby & Pascuzzi, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1450, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 329-7400

Donald W. Fitzgerald, Felderstein Fitzgerald Willoughby & Pascuzzi, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1450, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 329-7400

R. Dale Ginter, Downey Brand, 555 Capitol Mall, 10th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-1000

Marc A. Levinson, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 3000, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 447-9200

Thomas A. Willoughby, Felderstein Fitzgerald Willoughby & Pascuzzi, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1450, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 329-7400


-Commercial Litigation
John Cassinat, Cassinat Law Corporation, 4815 Laguna Park Drive, Suite C, Elk Grove, CA 95758;(916) 393-3030

Edward P. Freidberg, Freidberg & Parker, 650 University Ave., Suite 205, Sacramento, CA 95825;(916) 929-9060
Joseph S. Genshlea, Weintraub Genshlea Chediak Sproul, 400 Capitol Mall, 11th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 558-6000

David A. Riegels, Riegels Campos & Kenyon, 2500 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 220, Sacramento, CA 95833; (916) 779-7100

Charles J. Stevens, Stevens & O’Connell, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1400, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 329-9111


-Corporate Law
Jeffrey M. Koewler, Downey Brand, 555 Capitol Mall, 10th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-1000


-Employee Benefits Law
Jeffrey C. Chang, Chang, Ruthenberg & Long, 620 Coolidge Drive, Suite 350, Folsom, CA 95630; (916) 357-5660

Kevin G. Long, Chang, Ruthenberg & Long, 620 Coolidge Drive, Suite 350, Folsom, CA 95630; (916) 357-5660


-Energy Law
Dennis W. De Cuir, Dennis W. De Cuir, 2999 Douglas Blvd., Suite 325, Rose-ville, CA 95661; (916) 788-1022

Dan L. Carroll, Downey Brand, 555 Capitol Mall, 10th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-1000

Christopher T. Ellison, Ellison, Schneider & Harris, 2015 H St., Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 447-2166

-Family Law
Anthony S. Dick, Dick & Wagner, 797 University Ave., Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 920-9504

Camille H. Hemmer, Law Office of Camille H. Hemmer, 555 University Ave., Suite 125, Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 922-8500


Gary Ralph O’Dell, Gary Ralph O’Dell, 2220 Douglas Blvd., Suite 2200, Roseville, CA 95661; (916) 786-7078

Robert J. O’Hair, Woodruff, O’Hair & Posner, 2251 Fair Oaks Blvd., Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 920-0211

Donald M. Perkovich, Perkovich and Perkovich, 3425 American River Drive, Suite A, Sacramento, CA 95864; (916) 973-1122

Nancy Perkovich, Perkovich and Perkovich, 3425 American River Drive, Suite A, Sacramento, CA 95864;(916) 973-1122

Stephen James Wagner, Dick & Wagner, 797 University Ave., Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 920-9504


-First Amendment Law
Charity Kenyon, Riegels Campos & Kenyon, 2500 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 220, Sacramento, CA 95833;(916) 779-7100


-Gaming Law
Howard Dickstein, Dickstein & Zerbi, 1530 J St., Suite 250, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 244-8550

Harlan Wayne Goodson, Holland & Knight, 1215 K St., Suite 1747, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 503-1695

John K. Maloney, Maloney & Tabor, 2386 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 485-5690


Robert S. Tabor, Maloney & Tabor, 2386 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 485-5690

Jane Zerbi, Dickstein & Zerbi, 1530 J St., Suite 250, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 244-8550

* Methodology
The nomination pool for the 2006 edition of The Best Lawyers in America consisted of all lawyers whose names appeared in the previous editionof Best Lawyers, attorneys who were nominated since the previous survey and new nominees solicited from listed attorneys. In general, law-yers were asked to vote only on nominees in their own specialty in their own jurisdiction. Lawyers in closely related specialties were asked tovote across specialties, as were lawyers in smaller jurisdictions. Where specialties are national or international in nature, lawyers were askedto vote nationally as well as locally. Voting attorneys also were given an opportunity to offer more detailed comments on nominees. Each year, half of the voting pool receives fax or e-mail ballots; the other half is polled by phone.


Voting lawyers were provided this general guideline for determining if a nominee should be listed among “the best”: “If you had a close friend or relative who needed a real estate lawyer (for example), and you could not handle the case yourself, to whom would you refer them?” All votes and comments were solicited with a guarantee of confidentiality—a critical factor in the validity of the survey. To ensure the rigor of the selection process, lawyers were urged to use only their highest standards when voting and to evaluate each nominee based only on his or her individual merits.


-Labor and Employment Law
Daniel J. Coyle, Downey Brand, 555 Capitol Mall, 10th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-1000


Gary M. Messing, Carroll, Burdick & McDonough, 1007 Seventh St., Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 446-5297

David L. Perrault, Hardy Erich
Brown & Wilson, 1000 G St., Second Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 449-3800

Christopher H. Whelan, Christo-
pher H. Whelan, 11246 Gold Express Drive, Suite 100, Gold River, CA 95670; (916) 635-5577


-Legal Malpractice Law
Edward P. Freidberg, Freidberg & Parker, 650 University Ave., Suite 205, Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 929-9060

James R. Kirby II, Segal & Kirby,
770 L St., Suite 1440, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 441-0828


-Natural Resources Law
James M. Day Jr., Downey Brand, 555 Capitol Mall, 10th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-1000


Stuart L. Somach, Somach, Simmons & Dunn, 813 Sixth St., Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 446-7979

Ann L. Trowbridge, Downey Brand, 555 Capitol Mall, 10th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-1000

* Get A Lawyer
Best Lawyers is just one list, and not every worthy lawyer’s name appears on it. Here are some tips for finding someone good, fast.


-Ask Those in the Know

Personal referrals are always the best way to find a good professional in any field. (Think of how you found your doctor and hairstylist.) But keep in mind that the best referrals come from those who’ve seen the attorney in action. A former client is a good source. Even better, ask another lawyer.
“Another lawyer may have personal knowledge of that individual’s work product and character. He may even recommend an opponent whom he respects and thinks will do a good job,” says Jack Laufenberg, a family law attorney and president of the Sacramento County Bar Association.


-Call a Certified Lawyer Referral Service
Certified lawyer referral services interview potential clients and help match them with an attorney in the appropriate area of law. They provide a safe and effective way for individuals to find an attorney, because participating lawyers must meet strict qualifications. For instance, the attorneys must be qualified in the areas for which they accept cases and must carry malpractice insurance.


Lawyer referral services also can save you money. Representatives may help you determine that you don’t need legal services after all. At the Sacramento Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service, for example, only one-quarter of phone calls result in attorney assignments; they may be able to refer you to a service program or government agency that can better handle your problem, often for free.


Clients who proceed with a referral pay a one-time fee—usually around $30—which covers an initial consultation with an attorney. If that doesn’t pan out, the service will typically offer two more referrals without charge. That could save you significant money. (Many attorneys charge $200 or more for the same consultation if you’re not referred.)


Call the Sacramento Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at (916) 444-2333. Or you can search for other certified lawyer referral services at the California State Bar’s website, calbar.ca.gov.


-Ads, Internet and Ambulance Chasers
You certainly can find attorneys listed in the Yellow Pagesor advertising in the newspaper and on the Web. The trouble is, an ad or website won’t give you the straight scoop onthe attorney’s dedication, client rapport or ethics. To check out a prospective attorney, try searching the SacramentoBar Association’s website (sacbar.org) to find out who chairs the section of the bar relating to that attorney’s area of expertise—for example, business law. The chairperson maybe willing to give you independent verification of an attorney’s qualifications and ethics, or offer a better alternative.


What if an attorney approaches you—say, in your hospital room after you’ve had an accident? Proceed with caution. According to the California Bar Association, “soliciting” is not permitted by the legal profession’s code of ethics. You’ll want any attorney representing you to have good judgment and ethics—not to mention a little class.


-The Affordability Factor
It won’t help you to find the best attorney in the world if you can’t afford the legal fees. So, if money is an issue—especially if it’s the issue—you should call a certified lawyer referral service and ask if you qualify for an attorney at a reduced rate. The service should be able to help you through its own pro bono (“for the public good”) programs or refer you to a legal aid office in the area. The Sacramento Bar Association also has some helpful links on its website: Go to sacbar.org/public/findalawyer.asp.


-Before You Sign
Locating an attorney is only half the battle. Before you make your decision, you’ll want to schedule an initial consultation. Helpful questions to ask include:

• How many years have you been in practice?

• Do you have any specialty certifications (i.e. formal designation by the State Bar of proven skill and experience in a certain field of law)?
• Have you had any disciplinary actions instituted against you in the past five years?
• What are my chances of being successful in my case?
• Can you tell me about similar cases you’ve handled in the past?
• Will you handle my case personally? How will we work together?
• What do you estimate my case will cost me?
• How long will the process take? What steps will be involved?

The final step will be discussing a fee agreement that outlines how your lawyer will bill for her time. You need to agree on what you will pay and exactly what services the lawyer will perform. It also is helpful to ask if there’s anything you can do to reduce fees and costs. For instance, it may be better for you to direct questions to a paralegal or legal assistant versus the attorney if every phone call is tracked and billed.
Overall, you’ll want to pick an attorney who is straightforward about your chances and what victory may cost. “It’s important to get an unvarnished opinion of your case. If you have a bad case, you want an attorney to look you in the eye and tell you that,” says Laufenberg.


-Non-White-Collar Criminal Defense
Clyde M. Blackmon, Blackmon & Associates, 813 Sixth St., Suite 450, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 441-0824

Michael Rothschild, Rothschild, Wishek, Chastaine & Sands, 901 F St., Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 444-9845

Christopher H. Wing, Christopher H. Wing, 1101 E St., Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 441-4888


M. Bradley Wishek, Rothschild, Wishek, Chastaine & Sands, 901 F St., Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-9845


-Personal Injury Litigation
Theodore D. Bolling Jr., Bolling, Walter & Gawthrop, 8880 Cal Center Drive, Suite 400, Sacramento, CA 95865; (916) 369-0777

Robert A. Buccola, Dreyer, Babich, Buccola & Callaham, 20 Bicentennial Circle, Sacramento, CA 95826; (916) 379-3500

Roger A. Dreyer, Dreyer, Babich, Buccola & Callaham, 20 Bicentennial Circle, Sacramento, CA 95826; (916) 379-3500


Edward P. Freidberg, Freidberg & Parker, 650 University Ave., Suite 205, Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 929-9060

Morton L. Friedman, Friedman, Collard & Panneton, 7750 College Town Drive, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95826; (916) 381-9011

Steven H. Gurnee, Gurnee & Dan-
iels, 2240 Douglas Blvd., Suite 150, Rose-ville, CA 95661; (916) 797-3100

Russell G. Porter, Porter Scott Wei-
berg & Delehant, 350 University Ave., Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95825;(916) 929-1481

John M. Poswall, Poswall White &
Cutler, 1001 G St., Suite 301, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 449-1300

Leo H. Schuering Jr., Schuering,
Zimmerman, Scully & Doyle, 400 University Ave., Sacramento, CA 95825;(916) 567-0400

R. Parker White, Poswall White & Cutler, 1001 G St., Suite 301, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 449-1300


-Private Funds Law
Charles S. Farman, Morrison & Foerster, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 2600, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 448-3200


* Motion To Dismiss
Several years ago, Jean Seaton, a seasoned paralegal, thought she had found her brother the perfect attorney to handle his child custody problems. The attorney had come highly recommended by a friend. But when the siblings grew frustrated by high legal bills and little legal progress, they decided it was time to find someone new.


“I think if you’re paying a lot of money, you need to see the results to justify it,” Seaton says. “When you’re not satisfied, it’s time to look for another attorney.”


Firing an attorney is not as complicated as you might think. Attorney-client contracts are “terminable at will” by the client; in other words, you can end the relationship any time you choose. However, that doesn’t mean firing the lawyer—even a so-so lawyer—is always your best option.


Before you act, consider how far along your case is. If you’re about to go to trial, for instance, switching lawyers may be disastrous. Another reason to stick it out is cost. You won’t have to pay fees to switch attorneys, but you will have to pay your new attorney to get up to speed on the case.


“Your present attorney already knows your case. He has a wealth of information in his head,” says Jack Laufenberg, a family and criminal law attorney and president of the Sacramento County Bar Association. “The new attorney now has to review the file and go through all the papers. It’s a duplication of efforts.”


If you do decide to make a change, you’ll have to notify your attorney by letter or in person that you no longer wish for him to represent you. A “substitution of attorney” form must then be filed with the court, either by the fired attorney or a new one. Your file will be copied and delivered to you. You’ll receive a check for the unused portion of the retainer; or, if you owe money, you’ll receive your final bill.


That’s it. You’ll go your way, and your attorney will go another, perhaps both happier because of it.


Switching attorneys is a difficult decision, but it may be the best one if you’ve lost confidence in yours. After all, you are paying for experience, expertise and judgment that will help you navigate a complex legal system. “If you’ve reached the point where you don’t trust your lawyer’s judgment,” says Laufenberg, “it’s time to find another lawyer.”

-Real Estate Law
Russell J. Austin, Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld, 1000 G St., Third Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 446-2300

John V. Diepenbrock, Diepenbrock Harrison, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1800, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 446-4469

Larry L. Rader, Rader, Rader, Goulart & Gray, 2617 K St., Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95816; (916) 446-7577

David J. Spottiswood, McDonough, Holland & Allen, 555 Capitol Mall, Ninth Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 444-3900

Curtis C. Sproul, Sproul Trost, 2424 Professional Drive, Roseville, CA 95661; (916) 783-6262


-Tax Law
James Clarke, McDonough, Holland & Allen, 555 Capitol Mall, Ninth Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-3900

James L. Leet, McDonough, Holland & Allen, 555 Capitol Mall, Ninth Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-3900

Regina J. Schroder, Bullivant Houser Bailey, 1331 Garden Highway, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95833; (916) 442-0400


-Trusts and Estates
Frayda L. Bruton, Frayda L. Bruton, 400 Capitol Mall, 11th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-8826

Thomas A. Craven, Thomas A. Craven, 400 Capitol Mall, 17th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 442-8325

James L. Deeringer, Downey Brand, 555 Capitol Mall, 10th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 444-1000

Malcolm S. Weintraub, Weintraub Genshlea Chediak Sproul, 400 Capitol Mall, 11th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 558-6000


-White-Collar Criminal Defense
Clyde M. Blackmon, Blackmon & Associates, 813 Sixth St., Suite 450, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 441-0824

George L. O’Connell, Stevens & O’Connell, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1400, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 329-9111

Michael Rothschild, Rothschild, Wishek, Chastaine & Sands, 901 F St., Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 444-9845

Malcolm S. Segal, Segal & Kirby, 770 L St., Suite 1440, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 441-0828

Charles J. Stevens, Stevens & O’Connell, 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 1400, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 329-9111

Christopher H. Wing, Christopher H. Wing, 1101 E St., Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 441-4888

M. Bradley Wishek, Rothschild, Wishek, Chastaine & Sands, 901 F St., Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814;(916) 444-9845


-Workers’ Compensation Law
Helen C. Berger, Hanna, Brophy, MacLean, McAleer & Jensen, 99 Scripps Drive, Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 929-9411

Melissa C. Brown, Farrell, Fraulob & Brown, 2315 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA 95816; (916) 442-5835

Gerald M. Kennedy, Hanna, Brophy, MacLean, McAleer & Jensen, 99 Scripps Drive, Sacramento, CA 95825; (916) 929-9411

Marc G. Marcus, Marcus & Regalado, 3031 F St., Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95816; (916) 441-1611

Dudley Phenix, Naekel & Phenix, 2750 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite320, Sacramento, CA 95833; (916) 646-1496

Copyright 2005 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC. All rights reserved. This list, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission. No commercial use of the information in this list may be made without permission of Woodward/White, Inc. No fees may be charged, directly or indirectly, for the use of the information in this list without permission.





*Lawyer Speak
-Michael Rothschild
Criminal Defense
Rothschild Wishek Chastaine & Sands

Q: What is the most interesting case you’ve handled?
A: I just finished a difficult [sexual abuse] case where the opposition called a witness to testify about something called child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome. We caught the expert in several lies and misstatements. That was the turning point, and my client was acquitted on all charges in part because of that. What was interesting about it was, as in most jury trials, there was no way of knowing that the other side’s expert was going to do this when he got on the stand. We literally caught them with their pants down. To watch the jury’s faces was wondrous.


*Lawyer Speak
-Thomas A. Willoughby
Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights
Felderstein Fitzgerald Willoughby & Pascuzzi

Q: Has your caseload changed much since the federal Bankruptcy Reform Act took effect this past year?
A: The last six months have been the busiest in a couple of years, but for a different reason. I do mainly business bankruptcy cases, and as interest rates go up and financing gets tighter, businesses have had more of a cash flow crunch.


*Lawyer Speak
-Dan L. Carroll
Energy Law
Downey Brand

Q: What’s the inside scoop on California’s energy supply for the hot summer ahead?
A: I work mostly with privately owned power suppliers who are in pretty good shape for the summer. But many people are predicting there will be some supply challenges around the state. We’ll have to wait and see. With all the rain this spring, at least our hydroelectric services will be buzzing along.
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