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California Guardianship Law 2018


Speaker(s): Alexis Moody, Jayne Chong-Soon Lee, Laura Sullivan Van Zandt, Naomi Brandes, Robert P. Feyer, Stephanie E. Bilinski
Recorded on: Feb. 27, 2018
PLI Program #: 238391

Alexis Moody is a Senior Attorney at Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY), a program of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.  At LACY Alexis represents youth in probate guardianships, directly for minor-petitioners, as court appointed minor’s counsel and as attorney for minor parents whose children are the subjects of the guardianship.  Prior to joining LACY, she was a solo practitioner and through her law practice she represented parents, children and guardians in family law and probate cases. Alexis also previously worked for Pro Bono Project Silicon Valley where she coordinated their guardianship project. 


Laura Sullivan Van Zandt is a family law attorney who has practiced in San Francisco since 1988.  Ms. Van Zandt focuses on alternative dispute resolution in all aspects of family law.  Ms. Van Zandt is a court-appointed minor’s counsel in San Francisco Probate Court in contested guardianship cases, and is the Guardianship Mentor for the Justice and Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco.  Ms. Van Zandt received her J.D. from Golden Gate University and her B.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley. 


Naomi Brandes has been a Probate Court Investigator since 2008 specializing in petitions for guardianship and Special Immigrant Juvenile Findings. She has worked for San Francisco Superior Court since 2015 and previously worked for the Superior Court in Alameda County. Naomi was raised in Spain and Berkeley and is fluent in Spanish. She received her B.A. in Psychology from University of California Berkeley, where she has since lectured to undergraduate students about the role of the court in protecting vulnerable populations. Naomi received her M.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2000. Her academic honors include awards from the Golden Key International Honour Society, National Dean’s List, and Psi Chi International Honor Society. Naomi is an active member of the American Psychological Association, California Court Association, California Association of Superior Court Investigators, and the California Alumni Association. She has served as faculty for the California Center for Judicial Education and Research and has written and contributed to articles published in Addiction and Research Theory; Society for the Study of Social Problems; Law and Society Review; Psychology, Public Policy and the Law; Journal of Applied Psychology; and Biography Magazine.


Robert Feyer is a senior counsel in the San Francisco office of the firm's Public Finance Department.  After 40 years representing issuers and underwriters, Mr. Feyer retired from active practice working on bond transactions at the end of 2017, but continues to provide assistance and mentoring within the Department.

From 1986 to his retirement, Bob was the lead bond and disclosure counsel for the State of California, working with a team of lawyers to complete the issuance of an estimated 470 billion dollars of new and refunding general obligation bonds, cash flow notes and warrants and lease revenue obligations, including several of the largest long-term municipal bond issues in U.S. history. He was recognized by The American Lawyer magazine in April 2003 as one of 10 “Dealmakers of the Year” for his work on a $12.5 billion cash flow note borrowing in October 2002.  This work also garnered recognition as a “Lawyer of the Year in Transactional Law” in 2003 from California Lawyer magazine.  Bob has spoken often at conferences and webinars on municipal finance and disclosure matters, and is a member of the Securities Law Committee of the National Association of Bond Lawyers.

Bob also had an active practice in private activity financing for such purposes as solid waste disposal, pollution control and industrial development. For more than 40 years, he has been a lead bond counsel for the California Pollution Control Financing Authority.

Aside from his municipal bond practice, Bob has worked actively with low-income individuals who seek to obtain legal guardianships for young children.  In May, 2014 Bob received the James P. Preovolos Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Services in Family Law from the Justice and Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

From 1972 to 1975, while on a leave of absence from Orrick, Bob was a Captain in the United States Air Force where he served on the staff of the Air Force General Counsel, and he later served as a legislative assistant to a United States Senator in Washington, D.C.


Stephanie E. Bilinski is the Supervising Attorney for Family Law at the Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco.  Ms. Bilinski oversees the Justice & Diversity Center’s family law pro bono project, reviewing cases for placement, conducting training of volunteers and providing guidance and supervision to volunteer attorneys.  Prior to joining the Justice & Diversity Center, Ms. Bilinski was a family law litigator and mediator, working in all courts in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Ms. Bilinski received her J.D. cum laude from Seton Hall University School of Law, and her B.A. in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College.


Jayne Chong-Soon Lee is the Supervising Probate Attorney and Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Court of California, San Joaquin County.  She graduated from Yale University, UCLA School of Law, and Stanford Law School.  She has taught at Stanford Law School, published law review articles currently used in first year law school classes, and was an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law.  She has practiced tax both in the United States and in the People’s Republic of China.  She lectures for CEB, the California State Bar, and various law schools.  She serves on the Probate and Mental Health Education Committee for the Center for Judicial Education and Research, training probate judges and staff in California.  She was a member of the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the State Bar.  Currently, she serves on the Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee of the Judicial Council.