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A Publication of the Small Firm and Sole Practitioner Section of LACBA.


Ann Schneider, Editor in Chief
Marsha Brewer
Anne Garrett
Nancy Gray
Erin Joyce
Tom Myers
Caroline Vincent
Peter Weinberger



Erin Joyce - Chair
Joshua Furman - Vice-Chair
Donna Kirkner - Treasurer
Carolin Shining - Secretary
Matthew Norris - Vice Secretary
Caroline Vincent - Immediate Past Chair

Sima Aghai
Marcia Brewer
Charles Caliman
Stuart Chelin
Kathi Donahue
Mohammed Eldessouky
Marina Fraigun
Anne Garrett
Alice Graham
Sharen Ghatan
Nancy Gray
Amira Hasenbush
Nikki Mehrpoo Jacobson
Xinlin Morrow
Tom Myers
Matthew Norris
Zein Obagi, Jr.
Phyllis Pollack
Ashfa Randera
Amanda Rokita
Roger Rosen
Robin Sax
Ann Schneider
Michelle Seaenz
Elizabeth Stewart
Peter Weinberger
Richard Williamson



Caroline Vincent_3
Caroline Vincent

Since our last newsletter, we have witnessed a sea change in how we live and work as lawyers.  Our Executive Committee was busy at work planning programs for the 2020 calendar year, after hosting a lovely in person Section mixer in February. Only to run head on into the COVID-19 pandemic. Programs on the LACBA Calendar were cancelled, with no rescheduling plans yet in sight. Courts closed, and state and local governments ordered a variety of restrictions resulting in our current safer at home orders.

Thanks to our list serve, small firm and sole practitioners had resources, wisdom and support to digest and tackle almost daily updates from the court, county, cities, state and federal government. While many businesses and agencies reopened gradually, it is likely to be a while until we ever return to normal. So we adjusted to a new normal.

We were the first LACBA Section to have our Executive Committee on Zoom in March.  We launched into hosting a flurry of webinars using Zoom technology, followed by smaller more interactive Zoom events (see below under Past Events).

My term as Chair of our ExComm ended in June, and the indefatigable Erin Joyce has taken the helm. Donna Kirkner, moved up the ExComm “ladder” to Treasurer, and is also now a LACBA Trustee! We are so excited to have her connection to the leadership of the LACBA. I am equally thrilled to have been notified that Ron Brot will award me the Outstanding Section Leader of the Year Award, an event originally planned for April but likely deferred to the fall. This will be the first time in LACBA history that a Section Leader has received this award 2 years in a row, both for the Small Firm Section! I am honored, and it has been a pleasure to serve you.

I will remain on the Executive Committee in the position of Immediate Past Chair, supporting our amazing leadership team.

All stay safe, stay healthy, and stay well

Caroline Vincent
Immediate Past Chair, Small Firm and Sole Practitioner Section


Erin Joyce 3
Erin Joyce

After a whirlwind start for the revitalized Small Firms Section, which kicked off with the fingerprinting parties in Summer 2018, I am looking forward to the 2020/2021 Bar year with anticipation for more great things.

Caroline Vincent, Josh Furman, Donna Kirkner and I are working on a piece to celebrate the accomplishments of the last 18 months or so of the resurrected ExComm. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you my ideas about the future.

We are planning to partner with LACBA’s newest service project to sponsor the October Veteran’s Project clinic with 15 to 20 Small Firm section members. We also plan to hold an in-person mixer once it is possible so our members can cement relationships with attorneys from across the county and all proceeds will support the LACBA Veteran’s Project.

We also have several innovative programs on the drawing board, including The Business of Law – Small Firm Practitioner’s Toolkit in November headed up by Ann Schneider and Roger Rosen, and a Trial Skill Half-Day program scheduled for January—just in time for the trial courts to start up again with civil cases.

We will work on publishing the online business directory of Small Firms members and expanding our social media reach. Ann is ready to move forward with bi-monthly newsletters and will need help with articles and editing. We have a lot planned and will need many volunteers to make these ideas a reality.

A new logo just for our section is in the works.

Want to see more from the Section? The sky is the limit! If you have ideas, please send them to me and we can add them to the mix. We will be working primarily through committees in-between ExComm meetings so we urge you to join and get active on as many committees as you want. We need your help to advance the work of the Small Firms Section. You do not have to be a member of the ExComm to become involved in a committee. You are who makes this Section as great as it is and as great as it can be!

Erin Joyce
Chair, Small Firm and Sole Practitioner Section

Your New Executive Committee

We are pleased to announce the 2020-2021 Officers: Erin Joyce (Chair); Joshua Furman (Vice Chair); Donna Kirkner (Treasurer); Carolin Shining (Secretary); and Matthew Norris (Vice Secretary). Caroline Vincent remains on the ExComm as Immediate Past Chair.

Due to the large number of volunteers willing to step up and engage in committee work, the ExComm voted to amend the by-laws to expand the membership of the ExComm from 25 to 35 members. Here are the names of the new ExComm board, including the new members of the Committee who are most likely very well known to all Section members:

Returning ExComm Members


Newly Appointed ExComm Members:

Marcia Brewer


Sima Aghai

Stuart Chelin


Charles Caliman

Alice Graham


Kathi Donahue

Nikki Mehrpoo Jacobson


Mohammed Eldessouky

Marilyn Smith


Marina Fraigun

Thomas Myers


Anne Garrett

Zein E. Obagi, Jr.


Sharen Ghatan

Amanda Rokita


Nancy Gray

Roger Rosen


Amira Hasenbush

Ann Schneider


Xinlin Morrow

Peter Weinberger


Phyllis Pollack

Richard Williamson


Ashfa Randera



Michelle Seaenz


Robin Sax



Elizabeth Stewart

Upcoming Events
LACBA Networking Meetings
There are seven FREE LACBA Networking meetings every month. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to get to know other members and expand your referral network. You can check out as many of the LACBA Meetings as you like.  Here is the link to the LACBA Networking Webpage, with all the details:

Monthly Brown Bag Luncheon: You Plastered Your Opinion On Facebook. Can You Be Fired?—August 26, 2020, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Plaintiff’s employment attorney Marina Kats Fraigun will discuss the First Amendment right to free speech, legal off-duty conduct, the right to engage in “concerted activity,” the right to engage in political conduct, and the limits to all of these rights. No MCLE.
Zoom Meeting details, click here.

Virtual Career Fair— August 27, 2020, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
In these uncertain times, we are all looking for ways to make the best of the situation at hand. LACBA has teamed up with Web Scribble, their Job Board partner, for LACBA’s first Virtual Career Fair, a one-day event to help law job seekers connect with legal employers. Here is the link for all you need to know as a job seeker or employer to be involved:

Save the Date: Monthly Brown Bag Luncheon: Trust Litigation: Siblings Fighting Over Money They Did Not Earn and Don’t Deserve—September 22, 2020, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Seasoned probate litigator Roger Rosen shares the basics of trust litigation, how it is similar to and how it is different from other litigation and why you should care. Do not miss your opportunity to question Roger about this interesting area of law. NO MCLE.
Cost: Free!
Zoom Meeting details to follow.

Save the Date:  Perfectly Paired for Everyone: Food, Wine & Networking—September 24, 2020, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
What goes best with Zoom? Great food, great wine, and your fellow lawyers. Please join other members of the LACBA Small Firm & Sole Practitioner Section for a virtual wine tasting that can be paired with take-in food (or easy recipes that will be provided to cook at home).
More details to follow.

Save the Date: LACBA Veterans Legal Services Project—October 21, 2020, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
The Veteran’s Project helps veterans with clearing outstanding traffic tickets, driver's license reinstatement, and expunging criminal convictions.  Volunteers will help with Intake through Zoom for the Veterans who register for the project in advance.  No ongoing representation is required.  We will have a one hour FREE MCLE for those who want training before they volunteer.
More details to follow.

Save the Dates: 2nd Annual Essential Toolkit— The Business of Law -November 10, 12, and 19, 2020, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Co-sponsored by the California Lawyers Association
In this three-part webinar, seasoned attorneys and other professionals speak on our changing business environment post-COVID, providing strategies and inexpensive tools for improving business visibility, marketing, expanding practice areas, efficient and effective remote technologies, and getting paid.
Earn up to 6.0 hours MCLE, including 1.0 hours in ethics.
More details to follow.
Past Events

Our first COVID-19 webinar was the Small Firm Essential Tool Kit for remote practice, followed by a LACBA-wide Zoom and Dropbox skills webinar led by ExComm members Amanda Rokita and Zein Obagi. Both of these webinars were recorded and are available on our Section Webpage. The use of virtual and remote technologies for mediations, depositions, court hearings, and arbitrations, combined with social distancing as permitted by the ever changing rules has been a topic of much interest on our listserv. In April we and the Business Law Section co-sponsored Excuses, Excuses - What to Do with Your Deals Falling Apart During COVID, focusing on force majuere, frustration of purpose and impossibility as our clients faced the economic realities of shuttered offices and drastically reduced or changed activities. Several smaller pop-up and salon type programs have replicated as much as possible more personal connections, such as Zein Obagi’s Book Club, the Membership Committee’s virtual Member Mixers, Advance Your Cases Now in a Town Hall format, and Amira Hasenbush’s Brown Bag - Where Babies Really Come From: Family Formation Pitfalls and Advice for Every Attorney.

Here are some photos from the Persons of the Year Dinner in January and the Bench Meets the Bar Luncheon in February which seem like a lifetime ago. We look forward to many more enjoyable times ahead for the Small Firms Section.

Past-events-1 Past-events-2

Erin Joyce, Judge Michael Marcus (Ret.),
Carolin Shining, and Caroline Vincent at Persons of the Year Dinner at the California Club

Marcia Brewer, Erin Joyce, and Carolin Shining at Persons of the Year Dinner

Past-events-3 Past-events-4

Carolin Shining, Donna Kirkner, Caroline Vincent, Alice Graham, Judge Virginia Keeny, and Erin Joyce at Persons of the Year Dinner

Erin Joyce, Judge Allan J. Goodman (Ret.), Matt Norris, and Alice Graham at LACBA Bench Meets the Bar Luncheon

Past-events-5 Past-events-6

Donna Kirkner, Caroline Vincent, Alice Graham, Judge Virginia Keeny, and Erin Joyce at Persons of the Year Dinner

Donna Kirkner, Caroline Vincent, Erin Joyce, Stuart Chelin, and Matt Norris at LACBA Bench Meets the Bar Luncheon


Hot Topics

The listserv continues to provide our members with invaluable information regarding important issues. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the listserv has been dominated by discussions of our changing reality, including monitoring of emergency orders regarding court closures/reopenings and changing procedures, setting up home offices and other adaptations to continue practicing while social distancing, and the Paycheck Protection Program and other sources of financial assistance.

In addition, the California State Bar’s Task Force on Access through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS), and its efforts to replace small firms and solo attorneys with technology, remained a hot topic, thanks to the reporting of Carolin Shining and Erin Joyce. Carolin, in particular, has attended every meeting of the ATILS task force since July 2019, reported the results to the the listserv, and has helped lead the LACBA efforts at opposing the most troublesome proposals.

Wondering if an issue has been addressed in a previous listserv posting? The postings are archived.

Featured Members

In this issue, we feature our two newest ExComm officers—Carolin Shining and Matt Norris. We also feature Zein Obagi and Alice Graham, who have been instrumental in developing programs for our Section.

Carolin Shining-photo

Carolin K. Shining, Shining Law Firm, 8611 Washington Blvd., 2nd Floor, Culver City, CA 90232

Tel: (310) 490-4383; Email:

Carolin is an accomplished solo attorney with over 25 years of experience. She has been in solo practice since in 2012 and engages in a wide range of subject areas including business litigation and intellectual property. She has been a Registered Patent Attorney since 1990 and is licensed to practice law in California, Illinois and before numerous federal district courts.

In addition to counseling clients as to patents, trademark, copyrights and licensing, Carolin has been a part of litigation teams that produced over $50 million in verdicts and settlements in complex multi-party litigation in constitutional tax matters, personal injury, toxic torts, conservatorship and trust, and business litigation.

In 2020, Carolin was appointed to be a member of the State Bar of California’s Para-professional Working Group, which is tasked with creating regulations and statutory revisions necessary to create, train and recruit experienced paralegals to responsibly and ethically perform services needed by pro bono and low income persons.

In addition to serving our Section as Secretary, Carolin serves on the LACBA President’s Commission on Women and the Law, the Diversity and Inclusion Award Committee and the Attorney Wellness Committee. She is an active member of the Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the California Conference of Bar Associations. She is also a founding member of the Outside Counsel Network and is part of their on-going lecture series for lawyers and the general public.


Matthew J. Norris, Norris Law Group, P.C., 10940 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1600 , Los Angeles, California 90024

Tel: 310.443.4159; Email:

Matt is the founder and principal of Norris Law Group, P.C. Matt has practiced law for more than 22 years as both a litigator and a transactional business law attorney. His practice areas include labor, employment & human resources, business litigation, ERISA & employee benefits, trade secrets and unfair competition, real estate & construction litigation, intellectual property, and insurance bad faith.

Matt is admitted to active practice in five states and in numerous federal courts. He has handled or supervised litigation in nearly 30 states. He regularly advises and provides consultation and workplace evaluation to clients concerning human resources issues, and also advises on IP issues including trademark prosecution and copyright and trademark litigation.

Matt has structured and drafted complex business transactions in the financial services, construction, and real estate industries. He has advised numerous partners and members concerning their rights against improperly governed organizations.

In addition to serving our Section as Vice Secretary and chair of the Court Liaison Committee, Matt is a member of the San Diego, San Fernando Valley, and Santa Monica Bar Associations, the Association of Workplace Investigators, the ABA, and other civic organizations.


Zein E. Obagi, Jr., Obagi Law Group, PC, 811 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1721, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Tel: (424) 284-2401; Email:

Zein is founder of Obagi Law Group, P.C., representing individual and corporate clients the areas of employment law and cannabis litigation.

Zein is admitted to practice law throughout the State of California, the U.S. District Court for the Central, Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of California, the Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Zein serves our Section as the co-chair of the Programs/Events Committee and a member of the Marketing/Promotions/Social Media Committee. Zein also serves as a member of LACBA’s President's Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession and the Judicial Appointments Committee.

Zein’s firm generously sponsored our first major networking event in June 2019. In addition, Zein has participated in several live programs and webinars as a speaker on maximizing the use of legal technology.


Alice M. Graham, Graham Law Corp., 4640 Admiralty Way, Ste. 500, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Tel: (310) 496-5750; Email:

Alice is the founder and principal of Graham Law Corporation in Marina Del Rey, California. She has practiced law in the area of real estate for over 30 years.

Alice’s law practice focuses on all aspects of real estate law, including both transactions and litigation. Her practice includes negotiation and drafting of commercial leases, insurance matters (including bad faith), rights to title and use of real property, purchase and sale agreements, escrow, neighbor disputes, easements, investment fraud, landlord/tenant matters, homeowners’ associations, construction law, contracts and business law.

Alice is an author of a CEB treatise, Neighbor Disputes: Law and Litigation, which she updates annually. Alice served on the board of trustees of Santa Monica Bar Association and a member of the State Bar Real Property Section ExComm.

Alice has been an active participant on the listserv for years. She is a past co-chair of our Section’s Programs/Events Committee and was instrumental in developing interesting educational programs and opportunities for members to meet and socialize. She currently serves on the Membership Committee and is looking forward to further growth for the Section.

New Members
Welcome to Our New Members!

Michael P. Acain
Melvin N.A. Avanzado
Alexander John Baptiste
Ethan H. Bearman
Seth Adam Bier
Inge De Bruyn
Ryan Cadry
Briahna Chuvac
Robert James Christensen
Karen A. Davis
Katie Dimas
Ronda Dixon
Joelle M. Drucker
Kree Donalyn Filer
George L. Fernandez
Peter Franck
Michele Cobin Friedlander
Sharen H. Ghatan
Nazanin Ghazi
Patricia G. Gittelson
Landon Glover
Chad Gordon
Harold Greenberg
Erin Grey
Peter George Haber
Kevin Hatanian
Augustavia Haydel
John Hernandez, Jr
Benjamin Isaac Hicks
Jeffrey D. Horowitz
Timothy M. Howett
Daniel T. Huang
Robin M. Hou
Leslie C. Ivie
Alan R. Jampol
Adam Jacobs


James M. Jimenez
Gaurav Bobby Kalra
Carl Kanowsky
Nowell Lloyd Kaye
Alan Keossayan
Raid Khoury
Lawrence Kohn
Troy Krouse
Denise Ariana Landeros
Monique Larmond
Victor Look
Satkirtan McLafferty
Monica Mihell
Ashod Mooradian
Terrence J. Moore
Lan P. Nguyen
Tyna T. Orren
Jamie Shepherd
Jacqueline Shulman
Marissa Lelia Simmons
Paul R. Sommer
Michael S. Spindler
Elizabeth Stewart
Brianna Mix Sweeney
Sona Ashchian Tatiyants
Lilly Ann Tejeda
Kevin To
Zenja E. Tobias
Elvis Tran
Tamera C. Trindade
Hussain Turk
Jerry I. Udeochu
Arpi Vardanyan
David Weinstein
Sherry William
Nicholas A. Ynda

Become Involved!
We need your participation!

Our Executive Committee, and this Newsletter, are works in progress. If you would like the Section to address other focus areas, or would like to see additional features in the newsletter, let us know! Send your comments/inquiries to

We particularly invite you to become involved in one or more of our committees (Committee Roster), provide comments or suggestions for programs and networking functions, and to author articles of interest to sole and small firm practitioners.

The Section encourages nonmembers to join the LACBA and our Section!

Membership applications are available at or by calling LACBA Member Services at 213 896-6560.

Keep in touch!  Find us on social media at:


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