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2021 Advanced Family Law Course — Faculty Bios

 

 

Judge Thomas Trent Lewis (Ret.) is a neutral with Signature Resolution providing mediation, arbitration, and privately compensated judge pro tem services in family law. From 2016 until 2019, he was the Supervising Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court Family Law Division. Judge Lewis became a CFLS in 1985 and was inducted into AAML in 1987. He was inducted as a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Law in 2016. He served on the Family Law and Juvenile Advisory Commission until 2014, and he is a past faculty member for the judicial training committee for family law. He is a past president of the California Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. He is also a contributing author of The Rutter Group’s California Practice Guide: Family Law and serves as Program Director for CFLR. In 2018, he was named Family Law Judge of the Year by the Family Law Section of the California Lawyers Association, and ACFLS awarded him their Hall of Fame Award, the highest award bestowed by them. In 2010, he was awarded the Outstanding Jurist Award by AAML’s Southern California Chapter, and in 2014, he became the first emeritus member of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists. Among his many awards are the 2015 Los Angeles County Bar Association Family Law Section Spencer Brandeis Award, the 2016 Southern California Inn of Courts Outstanding Jurist Award, and the 2017 San Fernando Valley Bar Association Stanley Mosk Legacy of Justice Award. In 2018, he received the California Lawyers Association Family Law Judge of the Year Award. In 2018, he was awarded the Association of Family Law Specialists (ACFLS) Hall of Fame Award, the highest honor bestowed by ACFLS. Judge Lewis was also awarded the Southern California American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Person of the Year Award.


Michael Asimow is a Dean's Executive Professor of Law at Santa Clara Law School and Professor of Law Emeritus at UCLA Law School. He teaches income tax, contracts, and administrative law. Michael is the author of the tax materials in The Rutter Group's California Practice Guide: Family Law.  He is also the lead author of The Rutter Group's California Practice Guide: Administrative Law




Justice Dennis A. Cornell (Ret.) was a trial lawyer for 20 years, a Superior Court judge for nine years, and he recently retired from the 5th District Court of Appeal after fifteen years. He became a CFLS in 1980 and a fellow of the AAML in 1982. He tried approximately 50 jury trials to verdict as a lawyer, and over 120 jury trials and several hundred court trials as a trial court judge. He was the lead appellate attorney on over 20 family law appeals resulting in 12 published decisions. He has argued family law cases in the California Supreme Court, California Courts of Appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Justice Cornell currently provides private judging services through Resolution Remedies.  



Judge Scott Gordon (Ret.) serves as a neutral with Signature Resolution in Los Angeles.  He was a Judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court and served on that bench for seventeen years.  In his latest assignment, he was in the Family Law Division in a Long Cause Court handling complex family law trials and settlement conferences. He was the Supervising Judge of the Criminal Division.  He served as the Assistant Supervising Judge of the Criminal Division and in the Family Law Division as the Assistant Supervising Judge and Supervising Judge. In 2016, Judge Gordon was selected by the Chief Justice of California to serve as a member of the Judicial Council of California.  In 2017, the Chief Justice of California appointed him as a member of the Chief Justice’s special working group on Bail and Pretrial Detention Reform. In January 2019, the State Department of the United States invited him to serve as a member of the International Network of Hague Convention Judges.




Ronald S. Granberg, CFLS, is a past president of Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, a past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers NorCal Chapter, and a past president of the Monterey County Bar Association.  He has received the ACFLS Hall of Fame Award, the AAML NorCal Chapter Fellow of the Year Award, the AAML SoCal Chapter Family Law Person of the Year Award, and the Monterey County Bar Association Excellence in Advocacy Award. Ron is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers.  He taught Legal Research and Writing at the Monterey College of Law for 37 years, in addition to teaching Trial Advocacy there for 24 years and receiving its Professor of the Year Award six times.  Ron has published 21 family law articles and has made over 200 professional presentations.



Judge Mark A. Juhas sits in a general family law assignment on the Los Angeles Superior Court. He is the current Chair of the California Commission on Access to Justice and is a member of several committees for the Los Angeles Superior Court, including the Access and Fairness and Domestic Violence Committees. He is currently on the CJER Governing Committee and a Co-Chair of the Family and Juvenile Advisory Committee and was a member of the Elkins Family Law Task Force, Elkins Family Law Implementation Task Force and Self-Represented Litigant Task Force. Judge Juhas received the California State Bar, Family Law Section, Judicial Officer of the Year Award in 2011 and the ACFLS Outstanding Service to Family Law Award in 2015. In 2017 he received a Distinguished Service Award from the Judicial Council of California.  He regularly teaches for (among others) the Los Angeles Superior Court's education program, CJER, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and Southwestern Law School.




Marc Peter Kaplan, CFLS, is a Certified Family Law Specialist with over 40 years’ CPA and forensic experience. He has a unique practice, serving exclusively as a dedicated neutral as a Special Master/Referee, Mediator, Arbitrator or Privately Compensated Temporary Judge. As a Special Master, he provides analysis of income, business valuation and most other financial issues.  His mission statement is to resolve cases, educate the bench and bar on family law financial issues, and promote civility among attorneys.  



Anne C. Kiley, CFLS, has been practicing family law since 1990 and has been a Certified Family Law Specialist since 2000. She is a partner at Elkins Kalt in Century City, where she heads their family law department. Her Martindale-Hubbell rating is "AV," and she has been recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Times Magazine since 2005 and as one of the Top 50 women attorneys in Southern California by the Los Angeles Times Magazine since 2011; she has also been included in Best Lawyers in America since 2007. Ms. Kiley is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and an adjunct professor of law at the University of Southern California Gould Law School, where she taught their Family Law course for over ten years and where she presently teaches Community Property. Ms. Kiley is a frequent lecturer for CFLR/The Rutter Group and has made several presentations on family law issues for county bar organizations and other groups.




Staci M. Lambright, CFLS, is a Senior Associate at DeLacey, Riebel & Shindell LLP in San Francisco where she handles complex dissolution issues including challenging/upholding prenuptial agreements, high asset property division, imputation for support, breach of fiduciary duty, domestic and international child custody jurisdiction, and child abduction. She has been honored by the California Legislature, Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, San Francisco Bar Association, and San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium for her work on cases involving domestic violence, custody jurisdiction and high-conflict custody. She has also provided technical assistance and training to a wide range of professionals—including law enforcement, health care professionals, attorneys, and advocates—whose work directly impacts domestic violence survivors. Ms. Lambright earned her law degree at the University of Texas and was admitted to the California bar in 2003. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from UCLA.



Christopher C. Melcher, CFLS, is a Fellow of the AAML, specializing in complex family law litigation with a focus on premarital agreements. He also handles appeals of family law judgments and writ proceedings. Mr. Melcher has substantial experience in the financial aspects of divorce and as a celebrity divorce lawyer. He served as Chair of the State Bar of California Family Law Section for the 2011-2012 term. He has presented over 200 continuing legal education programs and published books and articles on family law.




Forrest S. Mosten, CFLS, is a Certified Family Law Specialist and has been mediating in private practice since 1979. He limits his practice to mediation, collaborative law, unbundled representation, and premarital agreements in high conflict and complex legal matters in both Los Angeles and San Diego. In 2021 he was again named a Super Lawyer in Family Law and in Mediation. He has written six books and numerous articles and teaches Mediation and Lawyer as Peacemaker at the UCLA School of Law. He trains family lawyers and mediators and keynotes professional conferences worldwide. He practices and trains online and can be reached at www.mostenmediation.com or www.mostenguthrie.com.



Lorie Nachlis is a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Nachlis & Freeman LLP. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), having served as President of the Northern California Chapter of the AAML. In 2012, she received the Chapter’s Fellow of the Year Award. Ms. Nachlis has been a speaker for the AAML, State Bar, and other organizations dedicated to family law and has published articles on related topics. Ms. Nachlis has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer by San Francisco Magazine every year since 2004.   




Louise Nixon is co-founder and CEO of QDROCounsel, a legal support services company for pension division (www.qdrocounsel.com).  A nationally recognized QDRO expert, Louise is often a court appointed QDRO expert and has been quoted in the NYT, Bloomberg, MSNBC and WSJ.  Since 2006, she has served on the Board for the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law (hbcfl.org), a non-profit law firm which provides free legal services for low income families in turmoil.  Louise also continues to practice law with QDRO Benefits Law Group and is a member of the “QDRONES,” a national study group comprised of QDRO attorneys and pension valuation experts.



Judge Charles Novack has served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge since May 2010 and has been Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of California since January 2019. He regularly lectures on a variety of bankruptcy topics. Judge Novack maintained his own bankruptcy practice in Oakland, California during the five years preceding his appointment, representing Chapter 7 trustees and debtors, creditors and other interested parties in Chapter 7, 11 and 13 cases. From 1994 until 2005 he was an associate and then a shareholder at the Oakland bankruptcy boutique firm of Kornfield, Paul & Nyberg. Judge Novack served as an associate professor at California State University, East Bay for several years and as an adjunct professor at Hastings College of the Law during the 2017-2018 school year. Judge Novack graduated from Rutgers College in 1980 (With Honors) and Hastings College of the Law in 1983 (cum laude).




Ellen R. Peck is a former State Bar Court judge and sole practitioner, now retired and living in Georgia. Her practice was limited to legal and expert services concerning the professional responsibilities of lawyers. She is a co-author of The Rutter Group's California Practice Guide: Professional Responsibility. She has served as ethics counsel to the State Bar and the ABA. She is past Chair of the State Bar Committee on Professional Conduct.



Judge Amy M. Pellman is the Assistant Supervising Judge of the Family Law Division.  Prior to joining the bench in 2005, Judge Pellman served as Legal Director for the Alliance for Children's Rights.  Judge Pellman found her calling as a Judge in family law and except for a five year hiatus at Children’s Court, she has chosen to dedicate herself to the family law bench. Judge Pellman developed an expertise in surrogacy and is currently the sole judge in Los Angeles handling those cases.  Judge Pellman has recently been recognized for her work and received the Distinguished Jurist Award by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Judge of the Year from Southwestern Law School, Outstanding Community Service Award from Levitt and Quinn Family Law Center and Judge of the Year from the California Inns of Court, Southern California chapter.  She is a featured speaker and has taught at Southwestern Law School for the past 15 years, and she also taught at USC Gould School of Law.




Cari M. Pines, CFLS, has dedicated her practice to complex family law matters involving electronic evidence or children with special needs, regularly consulting, lecturing and authoring articles on these subjects.  A graduate of Georgetown Law School eDiscovery Academy, Cari was 2018-2019 Chair of LACBA Family Law Section and sits on the Board of Levitt Quinn Family Law Center.  She was administrator for the Daily Settlement Officer program and now the Virtual Settlement Program and has held leadership roles in various family law organizations including CLA’s Law Practice Management & Technology Section, ACFLS, AFCC and SFVBA. 



Judge Michael R. Powell was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court Family Court Division in 2018 by Governor Edmund G. Brown.  Prior to being named to the bench he served as Los Angeles County Public Defender from 2004 and tried over 200 criminal and civil contempt cases to verdict. From 2000 to 2004 Judge Powell worked with the Specialized Litigation and Target Crimes units as Los Angeles County District Attorney Law Clerk and was second chair on a life without possibility of parole special circumstance case as his first trial. Since 1997, Judge Powell is a licensed by the United States Treasury Departments as a Custom Broker.  He earned his Bachelor of Science with emphasis on Finance from Long Beach State University and a Juris Doctor from Southwestern University Law School in 2002.




Judge Lawrence P. Riff is the Supervising Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court Family Law Division.  He was appointed to the bench by Governor Brown in 2015 and has prior judicial assignments in the Criminal and Civil Divisions.  As a family law judicial officer, Judge Riff sat in a home court and a long cause department before his assignment as Supervising Judge. Judge Riff was a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP where he served as the firm’s Managing Partner for its Los Angeles office for 17 years and Practice Group Leader for the firm’s U.S. Toxic Tort and Environmental Litigation Practice Group. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (with 40+ Superior and U.S. District Court jury verdicts) and is on the Board of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. Judge Riff was a five-time recipient of the Daily Journal’s Top Defense Verdicts and recognized as a Top 100 Attorney by Southern California Super Lawyers from 2009-2014 and a Top 10 in 2015.



Judge Elizabeth Scully sits in a family law assignment on the Los Angeles Superior Court.  Prior to taking the bench in December 2020, she was a Certified Family Law Specialist in private practice, providing mediation, collaborative, and minor’s counsel services in addition to traditional litigation representation.  She is an adjunct professor at UCLA School of Law, teaching experiential courses in mediation and in negotiation theory and practice.  She has co-authored numerous books and articles on topics relating to consensual dispute resolution in the family law context.    




Justice Mark B. Simons received his J.D. from the University of Chicago, where he served on the Law Review. In 2001, he was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco. Justice Simons was an adjunct professor of law and taught evidence at Hastings College of the Law from 2002 through 2004. He has lectured on evidence topics to numerous lawyer and judicial groups, including the B. E. Witkin Judicial College, and served as Dean of the Judicial College in 1995 and 1996. Justice Simons is the author of California Evidence Manual, published by West. He has twice received the Bernard Jefferson Award for Distinguished Service in Judicial Education



Steven Sparta, Ph.D., is in independent practice and is frequently court appointed to serve in family law cases. He is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, an Adjunct Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at SDSU. He was Chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Psychological Association and formerly was Chief Psychologist at Children's Hospital San Diego. Dr. Sparta and co-editor Gerald Koocher, Ph.D., wrote Forensic Mental Health Assessment of Children and Adolescents, published by Oxford University Press. He also served as a public member of the State Bar of California’s Committee on Professional Practices and Standards. 




Commissioner David S. Weinberg (Ret.) has been a Private Judge in Orange County for over 19 years. Previously, he was a Superior Court Commissioner in Orange County, spending 10 years on the bench. He also was in private practice at Weinberg & Weinberg ALC and served as an O.C. Deputy District Attorney. He is the recipient of the Orange County Bar Association J.E.T. Rutter Award for outstanding service to the Family Law Section and is a member of the Western State University College of Law Hall of Fame.  In 2019 he was awarded the OC-ACFLS Judicial Officer of the Year. In 2015, he was awarded the AAML Judicial Officer of the Year.



 
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