Bar Soap in Contra Costa Lawyer’s April 2018 edition

It has been a while since I penned a Bar Soap column. It seems the more news there is to write about, the more anxious I get and the more difficult it is to settle down and write the column. I should do like Herb Caen. That is, write something every day and then decide if it is worth mentioning in a column, as opposed to gathering information in a file for weeks on end, then having to sort through it for inspiration.

This is a habit that I better develop soon because I am inundated with reports on verdicts and about to have a lot more fodder for my Jury Verdicts report. As you all know, I have been whining for years about the need for the court system to provide preparation of monthly trial statistics. The good news is that I am told I have a sympathizer within the system and that we will soon resume receipt of our monthly statistics.

Let’s start our Bar Soap discussion with the topic of civility. Our legal profession is often mentioned in a negative light. I am sure you all have stories of meeting someone, mentioning you are a lawyer, only to be barraged with bad lawyer jokes. Okay, admittedly, there are some good lawyer jokes, but let’s stay on track. Why is it we are seen in such a negative light? I meet with people on a daily basis who have legal issues requiring a legal professional to help them sort it out. I often mention we are a nation of laws. We have a very well-defined system of laws and many attorneys, judges and support staff to ensure the system operates fairly, efficiently and justly. In most cases the proper result is reached. In most jury trials, the jury actually gets it right. Getting back to the question, the answer is often as simple as the lawyer in a particular case acted like a jerk. It is rarely helpful and in most cases hurtful to the client for the lawyer to act like a jerk. I was taught to respect the opposition even if you disagree with an attorney’s position on a particular issue.

One often hears the lament: “There are too many lawyers.” My response is always: “There are not too many good lawyers.”  Keep your client’s interests in mind at all times, and win, lose or draw, accept the result.  There may be a time when you have to lick your wounds and move on. And maybe check your malpractice coverage.

I very much enjoyed the February issue mention of new laws. Speaking of laws, anyone notice the huge number of motorists focusing on their mobile devices? I thought there was a law against that. Come to think of it, there is. I hear the traffic commissioners have no shortage of such cases on a daily basis in their respective courtrooms. Traffic accidents and traffic deaths are on the rise and distracted driving is a big cause. Are we becoming a nation of people who obey laws we agree with but disobey laws that are inconvenient or unpopular? I am not sure of  the answer. But I think it bears mentioning  and perhaps a discussion. Think speeding, cell phone use, jay walking, running red lights, and on a less dangerous front but an annoying lapse, littering.

I do know it has been too long between Bar Soap columns. I mentioned the MCLE Spectacular was coming up in my last column and Yikes, it has been several months since the event. At any rate it was “Spectacular.” The most attendees ever. The same goes for our Bar holiday party and the Annual CCCBA Installation Lunch. Congratulations to the new President James Wu. Goodness, I thought Phil Andersen just started and he is already our past president.

The annual High School Mock Trial competition has already come and gone. It is a very worthwhile event. I volunteer each year to help, along with a significant number of our regular judges, retired judges and local attorneys. The kids work very hard preparing, and I must say, the performances are incredible.

Lots of people are on the move, either to new adventures or on the rise within their own firms and organizations. I already mentioned our new 2018 Bar President James Wu, but again congratulations. A big congratulations to Virginia George who is now the Honorable Virginia George, Judge of the Contra Costa Superior Court. Virginia and I worked together in the DA’s Office a few years back, and my mother was the teacher of a number of Georges at Alhambra High School, I think including Virginia.

I saw a mention of Nick Casper on a social media site. Turns out Stan Casper is slowing down and his son Nick is taking on the management of the firm. Although one would not think anyone at the Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook firm is slowing down, witness the nice ad for the firm on the back page of our 2017-2018 Bar Directory. Don’t even have to change the name of the firm. Congratulations Nick on your management role. Of course, be careful what you wish for. I often think I am a practicing lawyer, but probably should say I am a law firm manager who occasionally has time for the actual practice of law.

As one might expect with a new DA, lots of retirements and promotions at my old place of employment. Keep an eye out as there is a race for DA.

I noticed my friend Delia Isvoranu is a partner at Duane Morris LLP. Nice move Delia. My friend Dominique Yancey is a Deputy DA, the President of the 100 Club and now a Fire Commissioner with San Ramon Fire. I particularly am impressed with the Fire Commissioner gig, as I am a commissioner with ConFire. Of course we have more engines and trucks over at ConFire, so there Dominique!

Sad to hear of the passing of The Honorable Sam Mesnick (Ret.). Judge Mesnick was on the bench in Richmond during my days as a Deputy DA. He presided over a number of my preliminary examinations. A gentleman every time I appeared in his courtroom.

Although I never appeared opposite him, I often saw attorney Paul Bonnar in the courthouse over the years. Paul recently passed away in Palm Desert. His involvement in community and legal organizations was extraordinary. Sad to learn of his passing and always ironic we only learn of his incredible history in an obituary.

Edmund Regalia was a legend in the legal community. A founding member of Miller Star Regalia, Ed recently passed away in Walnut Creek. Like Paul Bonnar, you have to read Ed’s obituary to get a sense of his incredible contributions to the legal community, as well as his zest for life.

And last but not least, we note the passing of Keith Howard. Keith was an accomplished attorney and a volunteer in many community organizations. Again, I cannot do justice to the man in this little column. Read his obituary to get a sense of the incredible man.

Keep those cards and letters coming and I will try to get a Bar Soap column out for you on a more regular basis.


Matthew P. Guichard is a nationally recognized trial attorney and senior partner and founder of Guichard, Teng & Portello with offices in Walnut Creek, Davis, San Francisco and Willows California. Mr. Guichard specializes in general civil litigation, commercial litigation, general trial work, business transaction and alternative dispute resolution. He is the author of two columns for the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine: Civil Jury Verdicts and Bar Soap.

Leadership Contra Costa

Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett was well represented at yesterday’s Leadership Contra Costa Meeting. Two of our partners, Matt Guichard and Erika Portillo, were there to make a presentation on Immigration. Coincidentally both Matt & Erika are alumni of this program, along with Chris Teng. Get Connected. Get Involved.

Attached is the link to the program. It is run through the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce. Click on the link and there is more information including an application to join.

http://www.walnut-creek.com/walnut-creek-programs-and-committees/walnut-creek-programs/leadership-contra-costa

Distracted Driving

Something to consider if you have an urge to text or read email while driving, you are now a distracted driver. If you cause an accident you may be on the hook for punitive damages. Do you know what that means? It means your insurance doesn’t cover that portion of any monetary award. You have to pay it. Ouch! Be smart. Be safe.

Thank you for your repeat business!

A huge thank you to all of our clients that 1) keep returning when they need legal advice and 2) refer other people and businesses to us. The faith, confidence and trust you put in Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett is appreciated! We offer a wide range of legal services. We get RESULTS. Come in and let’s talk. 925.459.8440 just in case you forgot!

Don’t Get a DUI on St. Patty’s Day!

In 2 days a lot of folks will be out and about celebrating St. Patty’s Day.  You might end up at an Irish Pub…

While you are making your plans with friends and co-workers, remember to stay safe and be smart.  And if you are going to raise a pint or two, arrange for some sort of public transportation.

BUT if you forget and find yourself in trouble with the law for a potential DUI arrest, remember to give Matt a call at 925.459.8440.  Many people have hired him to handle this sensitive situation.

Come in and let’s talk.

Tip #4: Hiring the right lawyer…make sure it’s in their wheelhouse.

Do you need lawyer but don’t know who to call? Do you have a current lawyer but need a different type of lawyer? Give Matt a call. He’s experienced. He won’t accept your case if it’s not in our wheelhouse. He knows other excellent lawyers and will give you a referral that you will feel good about it. Call Matt at 925.459.8440. Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett is here to help you get the legal services you need.

Tip #2: Selecting the right lawyer…

Think you need a lawyer? Then you probably do…how do you choose? First you will ask friends for a referral. Talk to a couple of lawyers. But how do you choose? Do you pick the really feisty lawyer that gets caught up in your problem because that one can relate to what you are experiencing? Or do you hire the one that understands but will give you a realistic assessment of your case and get you results? Sometimes in the heat of the moment we pick the wrong one. Don’t make that mistake. The lawyers at Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett are here to help you get the right results. We are here to help you solve your legal problems. Let us help you. Call Matt at 925.459.8440 so you can get this behind you.

Tip #1: You get what you pay for…choose experience!

You know, sometimes you need a more experienced lawyer. Most times. But when you are deciding upon a lawyer to handle your legal matter and one lawyer charges $x/hour and another charges more don’t think you are getting a better deal if you choose the lawyer with a lower hourly rate. That lawyer may not be able to get done what the experienced lawyer can accomplish in less time. Experience matters. Results matter. Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett gets results. The results that matter. When it comes time to hire a lawyer, hire one that gets the results. Call Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett at 925.459.8440. We get it done.

Tip #3: When you need a Trial Lawyer…make sure you hire an experienced Trial Lawyer!

Not every lawyer is a trial lawyer. If you are in a dispute or were injured and you need a trial lawyer remember that not every lawyer is one. They may have tried a case or two but that does not make them a trial lawyer. Our founding partner, Matt Guichard, is a trial lawyer. He’s tried hundreds of cases. Experience matters. Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett has experience. We get results. Good results. Come in and let’s talk. 925.459.8440. Let us help you with your legal needs.

Looking for an Immigration Lawyer? Know your rights?

Do you or maybe you know someone who needs some immigration help? Erika Portillo, a partner here at Guichard Teng Portillo & Garrett, works predominantly on immigration matters. She will assess your case. Advise you on what documentation you need to submit. Discuss case costs. Give you a realistic evaluation of your case. She can help you. And while you are here you can pick up a nifty red card to carry with you in case you are questioned about your immigration status. You have rights. Come in and let’s talk. Call Erika today at 925.459.8440.