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California Family Law Basics: Pro Bono Representation in Low-Income Family Law Cases 2020

Speaker(s): Andrea Del-Pan, Anne M. Sidwell, Antonia More, Christopher J. Donnelly, Erin Everett, Fawn Jade Korr, Janet L. Frankel, Karin Alm, Kemi Mustapha, Michelene Insalaco, Mirissa McMurray, Staci M. Lambright, Stephanie E. Bilinski, Tülin D. Açikalin
Recorded on: Aug. 19, 2020
PLI Program #: 300107

Andrea is the Pro Bono Director at Bay Area Legal Aid where she oversees the firm's regional pro bono program, integrating volunteer attorneys, law students, undergraduates and high school students in our practice areas and across seven counties.  As Pro Bono Director, Andrea coordinates recruitment and training of volunteers, aligning firm priorities and interests of individual volunteers with BayLegal's mission and expanding the firm's capacity to serve low-income clients in our communities. Through our regional county offices, our mobile advocacy clinics, and our nationally-recognized Legal Advice Line, BayLegal prevents domestic violence and sexual assault, increases economic stability, protects consumers, expands access to healthcare, and prevents homelessness. Pro bono opportunities are available throughout the year and throughout the Bay Area. Please contact to get involved!

Antonia More is the Supervising Attorney for Family Law at the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco. Antonia trains and mentors volunteer attorneys and reviews cases for pro bono placement. She conducts family law clinics at San Francisco’s Homeless Prenatal Project and Compass and heads up a staff of seven, including four attorneys.

In her prior position, Antonia served as JDC’s Family Law Assisted Self Help attorney where she assisted low-income litigants in family law cases. She worked primarily with monolingual Spanish and Russian speakers and on cases involving complex issues.

Before joining JDC, Antonia staffed the Alameda County Superior Court's Family Law Facilitator's Office, volunteered with the Alameda County Bar Association in the Superior Court, and was a litigation partner in a private firm. She has litigated, mediated and refereed civil and family disputes in both public and private contexts.

Antonia earned her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law and has a B.A. in Russian. Besides Russian and Spanish, Antonia speaks a little French and enjoys listening to podcasts in several languages.

Christopher J. Donnelly is the head of the Family Law Practice Group at the law firm Leland, Parachini, Steinberg, Matzger & Melnick, LLP.  He is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist. Chris devotes his practice exclusively to family law at all levels, from premarital and post-marital agreements to complex settlement negotiations, financial analysis, and pretrial, trial, and post-judgment representation.

Chris has been rated AV by Martindale Hubble since his first rating.  He has been honored as one of Ten Leaders in Matrimonial and Divorce Law in San Francisco, California.  He has been distinguished as a Northern California Super Lawyer in family law every year since that program’s inception in 2004.

Chris graduated from San Francisco State University (B.A., magna cum laude, 1981) and the University of California, Berkeley Law (J.D., 1990), where he served as co-editor-in-chief of the Industrial Relations Law Journal, 1989-1990.  He is the author of Broadening the Definition of Income in the Context of Spousal Support Litigation, 15 Family Law News, No. 4., and In re Marriage of Ilas (Appropriate Economic Analysis), California Family Law Monthly (April 1993), and with co-author Carroll J. Collins, Esq., Witnesses Tell the Story, 21 ABA Family Advocate 22.  He has presented accredited continuing legal education programs for family law attorneys on the subjects of business valuation, discovery, substantive California family law, trial practice, and motion practice.

Chris served as the legislative liaison for the State Bar of California Family Law Section Standing Committee on Property, North, which he chaired from 1994 to 1996.  In 1997 he was appointed to the California State Bar’s Family Law Section Executive Committee by the State Bar’s Board of Governors.  In 1999 he served as the editor of The Family Law News.  In 2003 and 2004 Chris served as Chair of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Family Law Section.

Chris provides pro bono services as a family law attorney mentor and MCLE presenter for the Justice and Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco.  He has been trained as and serves as a California Business and Professions Code attorney fee dispute arbitrator, in conjunction with the Bar Association of San Francisco.  He has provided private mediation services dealing with complex family law matters, and serves regularly as a settlement master for the Superior Courts of San Francisco and Marin counties.


Erin Everett is a staff attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid’s Richmond office in the domestic violence unit.  Her practice is devoted exclusively to representing domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking survivors in all aspects of family law and immigration relief. Prior to joining Bay Area Legal Aid, Erin clerked at the U.S. District in the Southern District of California and at the Oregon Court of Appeals. Before becoming an attorney, Erin worked at a non-profit agency serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in North Lake Tahoe. Erin received her B.A. from University of California, San Diego and her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Fawn Jade Korr is a senior staff attorney in the San Francisco office of Bay Area Legal Aid, a legal services agency providing free legal assistance to low-income individuals. Fawn has provided a variety of trainings on domestic violence theory and practice for attorneys, judges, public servants, domestic violence agencies, and direct service providers.

Fawn received her B.A. from Hampshire College and her J.D. from the University of Hawai?i at Manoa where she also received a graduate certificate in mediation. She is licensed in both Hawai?i and California.

Since 2012, Fawn has been representing survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking in their family law and immigration cases. Fawn has significant experience with divorce and custody matters, restraining orders, adoptions, guardianships, child support cases, and appeals. Her work experience ranges from uncontested cases to high-asset division and UCCJEA interstate custody disputes. Fawn has also drafted domestic violence legislation and participated in the drafting of Title IX initiatives and policies concerning sexual assault survivors on university campuses.

In 1992, Janet Frankel received her JD from Hastings and opened her private law practice. In 1997 and 1998, Janet received the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services from the State Bar Board of Governors. In 2004, Janet became certified as a Family Law Specialist by the CA State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. She mentors attorneys who accept pro bono family law matters through the JDC Program of BASF, and mentors law school students interested in family law. In 2005, Janet co-authored Dissolution Strategies, published by CEB, and she was selected as a Northern California Super Lawyer. Janet is now a co-author of the LexisNexis treatise California Family Law Practice & Procedure and a contributor to the California Family Law News.  

Janet serves as a Judge pro tem in the Unified Family Courts of the San Francisco Superior Court. She was appointed to the State Bar BLS Family Law Advisory Commission in 2006, and served as its Chair in 2009-10. Janet has been an Adjunct Professor at SF Law School (Alliant University) since 2006, teaching Community Property and Mediation. Janet is a past Chair of the BASF Family Law Section. Janet has volunteered as a presenter since 2013 for the Practicing Law Institute's annual training, "CA Family Law Basics: Pro Bono Representation in Low-Income Family Law Cases," and as a panelist for PLI's "Basic Negotiation Skills." Janet also volunteers monthly in KALW’s public service radio program “Your Legal Rights,” where listeners call in to pose their legal questions to certified specialists off the air. 

Janet has volunteered as a School Docent (Museum Guide) at SFMOMA for many years, as well as a sailing instructor at Island Yacht Club's annual Women’s Sailing Seminar, where women teach women how to sail.

Karin is the Justice and Diversity Center’s Sargent Shriver self-help attorney based in the San Francisco Superior Court. She assists indigent litigants on custody and visitation matters.  She works with monolingual Spanish speakers in her current position and has experience working with French-speaking communities in Togo, West Africa, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer.  Karin also has several years’ experience as a German-language attorney on multidistrict multijurisdictional pharmaceutical litigation cases.

Prior to joining the Justice and Diversity Center, Karin was the Domestic Violence Program Manager at the Institute for Multicultural Counseling & Education Services (IMCES), a non-profit based in Los Angeles.  At IMCES, she managed an interdisciplinary team of attorneys, case managers and licensed therapists.  Karin has also worked for a private family law firm based in Santa Monica, California.  Karin received her B.A., cum laude, from the University of Washington and her J.D. from CUNY school of law.

Kemi Mustapha is a Supervising Attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal), the largest provider of free legal services to low-income residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her practice is devoted exclusively to representing survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking in all aspects of family law litigation, including restraining orders, divorces, and custody matters. She also represents immigrant clients in U-Visas and VAWA petitions.  

Kemi completed a two-year Equal Justice Works fellowship at BayLegal’s San Francisco County Regional Office dedicated to expanding and improving the delivery of direct legal services to African-American domestic violence survivors. She spent several years working in BayLegal's Alameda County Regional Office before transferring to the Santa Clara County Regional Office in November 2017. 

Kemi received her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and her B.A. from The University of Chicago.

Ms. Insalaco earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She has practiced exclusively in the area of family law for over 25 years. Ms. Insalaco was certified as a Family Law Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization in 2003.

Ms. Insalaco is a Member or Fellow of many family law organizations, including the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists (ACFLS), the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), the International Academy of Family Lawyers, the Family Law Sections of the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) and the Contra Costa Bar Association, and the Hague Convention Attorney Network. Her leadership roles include presently being the Editor of AFCC’s newsletter “Insights,” a past Chair of BASF’s Family Law Section, a past Board Member of the ACFLS, and a past Member of the State Bar’s Family Law Executive Committee (FlexCom). Ms. Insalaco was also formerly a Member of BASF’s Judiciary Committee, which helps to select judges in California. Ms. Insalaco volunteers as a settlement panelist for San Francisco and Marin counties courts; is a member of the Minor’s Counsel Panel in Contra Costa County, and has sat as a Judge Pro Tem in San Francisco family court.

Ms. Insalaco also handles family law appeals. Her published cases include In re Marriage of Edlund & Hales (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 1454; Ragghanti v. Reyes (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 989; In re Marriage of Blazer (2009) 176 Cal. App. 4th 1438, and Sabato v. Brooks (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 715. Ms. Insalaco has also written numerous, published family law articles and is a frequent presenter at family law continuing education courses.

For over 10 years Ms. Insalaco was been a member of BASF’s delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations, serving as Chair in 2019. Through the conference she has written several pieces of legislation, some of which have been enacted, including:

SB 217 (Wieckowski – 2017 – Enacted) Ensures that mandatory family law financial disclosures are admissible even if prepared in mediation.

AB 1735 (Waldron – 2016 – Enacted) Amends Family Code section 215 to clarify service requirements after bifurcated judgment.

AB 380 (Waldron – 2015 – Enacted) Amends Family Code section 2251 to ensure that putative spouse rules are not used against the spouse who had a good-faith belief in a valid marriage.

AB 251 and AB 1834 (Wagner – 2013 and 2015) Sought to permit electronic reporting in family law courtrooms.

SB 254 (Harman – 2011) Sought to amend Family Code section 2251 to ensure that putative spouse rules are not used against the spouse who had a good-faith belief in a valid marriage.

SB 481 (Wright – 2011) Sought to prohibit double dipping in the context of spousal support awards.

While Ms. Insalaco’s practice focuses on complex, high-asset cases, she is dedicated to giving back to her community. She has received 13 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year awards from BASF and in both 2004 and 2016 received BASF’s James P. Preovolos Award, given annually to one family law attorney for outstanding pro bono services in family law. In 2008 Ms. Insalaco received an Angel Award from California Lawyer Magazine, given annually to just a few attorneys throughout California in recognition to their commitment to pro bono work. To read an article on Ms. Insalaco’s pro bono service, please click September 2007 BASF Journal story.

Ms. Insalaco has received the top “AV” peer rating by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating identifies Ms. Insalaco as a lawyer with very high to preeminent legal ability and is a reflection of her expertise, experience, integrity and overall professional excellence.

Ms. Insalaco is the mother of two children, ages 14 and 17.

Professor Sidwell graduated from the George Washington University Law School in May 2011. After graduation, Professor Sidwell worked for the Honorable Zoe Bush in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and as a court advocate for DC SAFE, a domestic violence prevention organization, before joining Legal Services of Northern Virginia as a domestic violence and family law staff attorney in early 2012. From 2013 to 2019, Professor Sidwell represented survivors of domestic violence in family and immigration law matters at Bay Area Legal Aid. Professor Sidwell joined the faculty of the University of San Francisco School of Law as the Director of Externship Programs and Assistant Professor in 2019.

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 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. She has been named a Super Lawyer in Northern California (2020) in Northern California Super Lawyers magazine and as an outstanding young lawyer on the Northern California Rising Stars list (2013). She has also 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. 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.

Stephanie E. Bilinski is the Pro Bono Director at the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, where she oversees all volunteer projects including their domestic violence, guardianship and conservatorship programs. Prior to her work at LASSMC, she spent eight years as the Supervising Attorney for Family Law at the Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco.   Ms. Bilinski has been a practicing family law attorney for 19 years, and has trained and mentored hundreds of young attorneys.  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.

Tülin D. Açikalin is one of three founding partners of ADZ Law, LLP. Ms. Açikalin represents survivors of domestic violence in family law and civil tort cases. Ms. Açikalin’s litigation practice includes cases with substantial assets and high conflict custody. Ms. Açikalin works to achieve safety, economic stability, dissolve intimate relationships, and to seek justice for victims of crime. Ms. Açikalin is skilled in settlement, negotiation, pre-trial discovery, motion practice, and trials.

Ms. Açikalin was selected to Super Lawyers in 2020 and in 2017 passed the Certified Family Law Specialization exam. For ten years prior to launching ADZ Law, LLP, Ms. Açikalin was a managing attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid, the largest poverty law firm in the Bay Area. When she joined BayLegal, she was a 5th year litigation associate coming from big law.

Ms. Açikalin was a member of the San Mateo County Domestic Violence Council (2005-2015), Legal Process Committee, San Mateo County Blue Ribbon Commission on Foster Care and its Information Sharing Committee, and the Judicial Council of California's Elkins Family Law Task Force. She is a member of the San Mateo County Bar Association, San Francisco Bar Association, and the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Ms. Açikalin offers a quarterly training on Domestic Violence and the Law for victim advocates as a part of La Casa De Las Madres’ 40 hour domestic violence curriculum. Ms. Açikalin provides monthly trainings to once per month training for the Legal Incubator Program of the Contra Costa County Family Justice Center. Ms. Açikalin has volunteered with Court Appointed Special Advocates and has served as faculty for the San Francisco Bar Association, Practising Law Institute, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Legal Aid Association of California and other organizations educating lawyers, courts, county agencies, and nonprofits on a variety of issues including, LGBT cultural competency, immigration issues for family law practitioners, domestic violence restraining orders for same-sex couples, and navigating international child custody cases. She has also testified before state legislative committee hearings on a range of topics.

Ms. Açikalin graduated cum laude from Tulane Law School in 2000. During law school, Ms. Açikalin was a member of the Tulane Law Review and served as Associate Editor. Ms. Açikalin received her Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business in 1994.