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California Family Law Basics: Pro Bono Representation in Low-Income Family Law Cases 2018

Speaker(s): Antonia More, Billie-Jean Lee, Christopher J. Donnelly, Erin Orum, Fawn Jade Korr, Hon. Janet L. Frankel, Jerel McCrary, Kemi Mustapha, Lauren De La Rosa, Robyn Dunlap, Roxanne Hoegger Alejandre, Staci M. Lambright, Stephanie E. Bilinski, Trina Chatterjee, Tülin D. Açikalin
Recorded on: Aug. 14, 2018
PLI Program #: 244405

Antonia More is Director and Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Legal Services at the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco. Under her direction, JDC provides free legal services to low-income litigants in San Francisco through its Family Law Project, Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, Federal Pro Bono Project, Legal Advice and Referral Clinic, Tenant Advocacy Project and other programs.

In her prior position, Antonia served as Supervising Attorney for Family Law at JDC.  She continues to train and mentor staff and volunteer attorneys in family law cases. She also remains involved with family law clinics at San Francisco’s Homeless Prenatal Program and Compass Family Services.

Antonia’s first job at JDC was based in the San Francisco Superior Court where she assisted low-income litigants in divorce 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.

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.

Roxanne Hoegger Alejandre has practiced family law since 2002. She received her B.A., summa cum laude, from UC Berkeley and her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law.

Roxanne is a staff attorney in the domestic violence unit of Bay Area Legal Aid's, San Francisco office. After graduating from law school, she joined Bay Area Legal Aid as an Equal Justice Works Fellow to provide prevention and intervention services to teen domestic violence victims and survivors. During law school, Roxanne authored a law review article that was published in the UC Berkeley Women's Law Journal, addressing domestic violence cases under the Hague Convention, which has been cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh and Eleventh Circuits. Roxanne also participated in U.C. Berkeley's domestic violence clinic as an intern for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

Roxanne has substantial experience litigating contested family law hearings and trials. She was the lead trial attorney in a case that successfully challenged a prenuptial agreement based on the lack of financial disclosures. She also assisted with defending the appeal of this matter and filing a cross appeal. She has appeared pro hac vice in Oklahoma court and successfully handled a trial involving interstate custody, international child abduction, and domestic violence.

During her time in private family law practice, Roxanne worked on cases involving complex property issues such as the division of closely held business interests and stock options, the discovery of hidden assets, and breaches of fiduciary duties. She also collaborated with many well-known forensic experts including child custody evaluators, accountants, private judges, and mediators.

Roxanne is a San Francisco native and lives with her family in San Francisco.

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 Legal Aid SMC, 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 more than 20 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.

Trina Chatterjee is a partner at MVTC Family Law. She is a certified family law specialist, certified by the California State Bar Association Board of Legal Specialization. Since 2007, Trina has practiced primarily in family law and appears in court regularly in all Bay Area counties, practicing primarily in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Trina conducted a legal clinic weekly for several years at the Alameda County Family Justice Center where she advised clients on domestic violence and family law issues. She is co-chair of the Alameda County Family Law Association. She presents regularly on family law issues for Practicing Law Institute and provides trainings in family law for local legal associations. She was on the Executive Committee for the Solo and Small Firm section of the California Lawyer’s Association. She is a member of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California, Alameda County Family Law Association, the Alameda County Bar Association, Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, and California Lawyer’s Association family law division. She is a past board member of Narika (a domestic violence helpline for South Asian survivors of domestic violence) and South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

Trina obtained her J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law and her B.A. from San Francisco State University. She lives with her husband and two children in Oakland, California.

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 Orum is the Regional Counsel for Family Law and the Managing Attorney of the San Mateo County office of Bay Area Legal Aid.  BayLegal is a non-profit law firm that helps low-income residents of the Bay Area build safer, healthier, and more stable lives. Erin’s practice has been devoted to representing survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, with a focus on family law and immigration relief.

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.

Jerel McCrary is a graduate of Stanford University and Hastings College of the Law. He has been a practicing attorney in the Bay Area since 1977. Jerel was one of the founders of Gay Rights Advocates in 1977, and subsequently worked as an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco for 5 years. He joined the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation in 1989 in its domestic violence prevention unit and continued representing survivors of abuse until 2001 when he became the Regional Counsel in Domestic Violence for Bay Area Legal Aid. During 2006, he served as Acting Executive Director of BayLegal. In 2013, he was named Managing Attorney of BayLegal's San Francisco Office. He has served as a member of the Board of the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic for 25 years. In 2004, he received the Legal Aid Association of California’s Family Law Award, and in 2006, he received the Tanya Neiman Award for Social Justice Advocacy from the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium. Jerel has presented numerous local and national trainings on matters of family law, domestic violence, serving the LGBT community and management of legal aid programs.

Lauren De La Rosa is currently an Interpersonal Violence Staff Attorney for Bay Area Legal Aid. Ms. De La Rosa represents survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in requests for protection orders and in related family law matters. Prior to joining Bay Legal, Ms. De La Rosa was a bilingual Family Law Attorney for Weave, Inc., Sacramento County's only domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center. Ms. De La Rosa is a San Francisco native and developed a love for public interest while working in San Francisco Superior Court's self-help center, the ACCESS Center. Ms. De La Rosa received her J.D. from the University Of Illinois College Of Law and her B.A. in Political Science from San Francisco State University.

Meet Robyn Dunlap, who has joined the Justice & Diversity Center’s (JDC) Family Law Project to work on the newly formed San Francisco Victim Advocacy Coalition (SFVAC). SFVAC is a collaborative grant-funded project led by JDC, the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC), San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR), and W.O.M.A.N., Inc.

As part of SFVAC’s “no wrong door” approach to holistic help for survivors of sexual abuse and assault, domestic violence, and stalking, Robyn is providing brief services, advice, and legal representation to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in San Francisco’s Family Court. In addition, JDC’s partners in SFVAC are representing survivors in Title IX cases on campus, accompanying survivors to court to provide emotional support, and providing ongoing counseling services, therapy, and a 24-hour crisis line.

Robyn’s career has been devoted to representing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She started working as a rape counselor during college at Sacramento State, and while attending law school at Whittier, she interned with the Orange County District Attorney’s sexual assault division. After law school, Robyn worked for the Sexual Assault Legal Institute in Silver Spring MD, handling sexual assault cases, and continued representing sexual assault survivors when she entered private practice.

Ms. Lee started her legal career as a Deputy Public Defender where she honed her pre-trial and trial skills representing clients in numerous court proceedings and in over 80 jury trials.  Since 2008, Ms. Lee has devoted her practice entirely to family law.  Ms. Lee has experience handling all aspects of family law matters and is skilled in negotiation and settlement as well as litigation.

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.

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.