Last Minute Annual Dinner R.S.V.P.s

If you have a last minute Annual Dinner installation, please e-mail Steve Henderson at

The VCBA Thanks the 2015 Annual Dinner Sponsors

Platinum Bar Sponsors


Gold Bar Sponsors

Arnold LaRochelle Mathews VanConas & Zirbel LLP

The Loebl Family

Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold, L.L.P.


Silver Bar Sponsors

picture best


Panitz & Kossoff, LLP.

Bronze Bar Sponsors


If you have NOT submitted your Attorney Profile form, you must do so before December 15, 2015. Forms submitted after the deadline will not be accepted.


To download the two-sided PDF form, please click below:

2016 Attorney Profile Form – Page 1

2016 Attorney Profile Form – Page 2


You may also complete your form on-line at: Click Here for Online Form

Don’t be left out of the 2016 Directory!



2015 VCBA Annual Installation & Awards Dinner

Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach

450 E Harbor Blvd

Ventura, CA 93001
(805) 648-2100


Laura V. Bartels

Recipient of the Ben E. Nordman Public Service Award



Joseph L. Strohman, Jr.

Recipient of the Verna R. Kagan VCBA/VCLA Public Service Award


Kathleen G. Nakos

Recipient of the James D. Loebl VCBA/VCLA Public Service Award


Friday, November 13, 2015

$125.00 per person

$85.00  Barristers

Platinum Sponsor


Exec’s Dot …Dot …Dot … by Steve Henderson

The James McGahan Award for Excellence was presented by the Hon. Tari Cody, President of the Jerome Berenson Inn of Court, during the regular monthly meeting October 8 at the Saticoy Country Club. The Award was given to Team #3 for their presentation during the 2014-2015 campaign. The members of the team included Richard Hanawalt, James Vaughn, Karen Darnall, John Hribar, Lauren Sims, Tom Adams, Carol Mack, Ali Talai and Cesar Libanati. Program title? “Four Bickering Attorneys in a VW Bus…and ONE DEAD ONE.” There remains a few openings in the Inn of Court this year and you may contact Katie Clunen, President-Elect, for details at 497.7474 or katiec@dionlawgroup. com… A suspended Massachusetts lawyer has been charged with prostitution after a police investigated a report by a suspicious neighbor and found online review of both the lawyer’s legal and escort services. The suspended lawyer, Karen Andrede, 51, has been released on personal recognizance. She used the name of Rose and police began investigating her in March when a neighbor of Andrade’s complained that middle-aged men were frequently visiting her home…

Congrats are in order to Chris Beck, General Counsel for the Housing of the City of San Buenaventura. He became a daddy for the first time and momma Nicole and little one, Christopher, doing well. Christopher was born July 31 weighing-in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces …Spend much time in front of SCOTUS?

The new season began October 5 and it opened with a bang. Lawyers admitted to practice in SCOTUS have a special line in which they can stand if they want to hear an oral argument in person, they need not mingle with the great unwashed. Traditionally, SCOTUS bar members could, and often did, hire professional line standers to hold their place in line, so that they didn’t have to actually have to show up until shortly before, even if, for a particularly big argument, the line began to form the day before. SCOTUS has banned that practice. The separate line for SCOTUS-admitted lawyers still exists, but you’ve got to stand in line yourself, you can’t use a line stander…

Go to LATimes. com for a great story to accompany this photo of street justice in 1926…There’s a job available with the United States District Court, Central District. Pro Se Staff Attorney. $65,000-$142,000.

Thanks to Tom Olson, this is worth a lookseewww . c our t s . c a . g o v / o p i n i o n s / d o c u m e n t s /B253538.pdf…A sheriff in Maine has apologized to a pair of female lawyers who were told they needed to take off their underwire bras at jail to avoid setting off the metal detector if they wanted to talk to their incarcerated clients. Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyse said that he accepts “complete responsibility” for the actions of deputies who spoke with the lawyers. The lawyers refused to comply with the request and left. Joyce also said the possibility of contraband slipping into the jail is a serious concern and that is why jail workers take security scan very seriously.

He says in the future, deputies will resolve similar situations using a metal detecting wand…Don Greenberg has been elected to the Board of the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation of Southern California.

The Foundation arranges for cataract and retinal eye surgeries for low income persons who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or have insurance coverage. It also provides hearing aid for eligible low income persons—a significant, growing need among our aging population. Don was also a candidate for the Ben E. Nordman Award this year…

Remember—Nov. 5th is National Men Make Dinner Day, while the 6th is the World Championship Pumpkin Chunkin Day and the 30th marks Cyber Shopping Day…

Do mark your calendar for our Annual Installations and Awards Dinner honoring some real quality people, Laura Bartels, Joe Strohman and Kathleen Nakos. It’s Nov. 21 at the Crowne Plaza in Ventura. Special shout-out to Silent Auction co-chairs Amy Keisewetter and Tom Hutchinson for their efforts in raising money for Ventura County Legal Aid, Inc. President William Grewe will host the show starting at 6:00 p.m.

Steve Henderson has been the executive director and chief executive officer of the bar association and its affiliated organizations since November 1990. He will be celebrating his 10 years on the job by you all cutting a check to the VCLA, Inc. in the amount of $25 or a six-pack of Stella Artois, whatever comes easiest. He will be spending the holiday weekend at the Love Ranch South in Las Vegas. He may be reached at, Twitter at stevehendo1, LinkedIn,FB, Instagram at steve_hendo or better yet, 650.7599.

November 2015 Classifieds


Ventura County Office Space – Available office space in Camarillo with a wide variety of options to fit any size budget, from small affordable space to large executive suites.  Building amenities include shared conference rooms, video conferencing, and peaceful landscaping.  Executive suites with full administrative support available.  All locations are situated with easy access to the 101 freeway, amenities, and restaurants.  Join other attorneys and professional services. Contact Lauren Knutson 805-223-4188 to sign your new lease today.


Westlake village law firm seeks secretary/legal assistant. Well established (30 yr) busy law firm seeks well qualified legal secretary/assistant for litigation and transactional. Exciting career opportunity. Experience with Windows, Microsoft Outlook, WordPerfect, Word, Excel, LegalSolutions, Timeslips. Email resume in confidence to

“Ventura College Pathway to Law School Program” by Colleen M. Coffey

Take a moment and think about the mentors you’ve had in your life and how they helped you become an attorney. How different would your career be without them? Would you even have the career you do? I’m writing to persuade you to pay forward the enormous leg up that your own mentor(s) gave you: join the Ventura College Pathway to Law School Program – either as a designated member of our advisory council, or as an ad hoc member of our attorney network. I had two mentors; both were attorneys. The first was corporate counsel to my employer, and I was a temp with no professional skills, hired to make copies. When a legal assistant left abruptly, the company selected me to fill her chair. My singular skill: I could type. I can still remember one of my very first meetings with counsel, when she said: “Someone once gave me a chance, took me on and taught me what I know now; I want to do the same for you.”

My second mentor came into my life later, after graduate school when I worked odd hours teaching history at Ventura College as an adjunct. My day job was as a paralegal. When I started I envisioned this as a temporary situation – just biding my time until my “real” career as a teacher started. I stayed 9 years.

It would be impossible to enumerate all that I learned from these two mentors. Without either of them, the whole trajectory of my professional life changes. No doubt each of you reading this has a similar story to tell
about your own mentor.

Ventura College’s Pathway to Law School

Although California is a majority-minority state with 60 percent of its population made up of persons from racial-ethnic minority groups, the California Bar does not reflect the diversity of the general population (only 20% are minority lawyers). In 2006, the State Bar created the Diversity Pipeline Task Force to review best practices for diversity programs from pre-school to the legal profession. In 2007 the State Bar Council on Access and Fairness was launched. The Council became the “think tank” for the State Bar and had a strategic plan to tackle barriers to diversifying the profession. It has become a national leader in launching projects that are “boots on the ground” programs for diversity in the legal profession. The Community College Pathway to Law School is one such program.

At Ventura College, the Pathway to Law School Program will provide a clear pathway for students to follow from community college, to a four-year university, to law school. Support services for students will include early exposure to law practice and law schools including on-campus visits and classroom sit-ins, job shadowing with law professionals, internships, and mentoring and support from faculty.

In addition to these support services, students in the Pathway to Law School Program complete seven general education courses based on a defined set of “success factors” that help make effective lawyers: English Composition and Critical Thinking, Argumentation and Debate, and Street Law among others. Students who complete the required curriculum are designated Council On Access and Fairness (COAS) Scholars. Students also receive fee waivers for the LSAT and law school application fees. At present, there are six participating law schools which will give consideration to COAS: University of Southern California Gould School of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law, UC Davis School of Law, UC Irvine School of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law, and Loyola Law School.

Pay It Forward

What am I actually asking of you? For those who join our advisory council (we have eight commitments and hope for four-to seven more), we would request a minimum two-year commitment. In those two years you would participate in two 1-hour meetings per school year (one in fall and one in spring). You are our subject experts for the legal profession, suggesting internship and service learning opportunities for our students, and providing guidance to faculty and staff as to how best to support our aspiring lawyer-students. Ad hoc members of our attorney network are student resources. You are occasionally available to students for informational interviews and guidance as your schedule permits or when your expertise aligns with a student’s intended field of study. You can be very involved or minimally involved as you wish. Either way, I would like your number in my Rolodex.

Every year, thousands of talented and promising students leak out of the education pipeline between community college and law school. Poor and working class students, first generation students, students of color, students with disabilities, veterans, and those with work and family responsibilities are particularly at risk. Why? Because they lack mentoring, financial resources, and information about what is needed to gain admission and succeed in law school.

You can be part of the solution to what the California Bar has long recognized as a significant problem. You can be the change we all agree needs to take place in our little corner of the world. A diverse legal profession and judicial system is more than a priority for public trust and confidence and the appearance of fairness in the courts. Lawyers are also a majority of elected officials and leaders – locally, statewide and nationally. A bar that reflects the diversity of California ensures that diverse interests are taken into consideration and represented in public policy and other critical decisions affecting our communities.

Please join us for our inaugural advisory council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 11 from 8:30-9:30a.m., in the Campus Center Conference Room at Ventura College. Coffee & pastries will be served. We will educate prospective Advisory Council and ad hoc members on roles and responsibilities and give you a sense of the impact you will have on the lives of students to give them a dream that may not have been possible before this initiative. Don’t assume someone else will do it; please join us – we need you.

Colleen M. Coffey is Associate Professor of History and faculty lead for the Pathway to Law School Program at Ventura College. She can be reached at (805) 289-6194 or


Racially restrictive covenants are contractual agreements that prohibit the purchase, lease, or occupation of a piece of property by a particular group of people. But why should I care if I have a racially restrictive covenant in my deed that purports to “sensibly restrict” conveyances to Anglos in an archaic attempt to “save the neighborhood”? After all, the covenant no longer prevents me from conveying my interest to non- White persons, for example, persons of “Semitic,” “Mongolian,” or “Ethiopian” descent, because, as we all know, racist covenants are unenforceable. Less well known: Homeowners who wish to remove this archaic language have an easy fix.

Here’s an example of one of the more common racially restrictive covenants in property deeds on file with the Ventura County recorder, which a homeowner may wish to remove from his or her deed: “No persons of any race except the white race shall use or occupy any building on any lot except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race employed by an owner or tenant.”

This article gives a timeline ranging from the legality of racially restrictive covenants to the current attempts to remove them from our deeds. Next month, a second article will give examples of Ventura County deeds that – to this day – contain covenants with prejudicial language, as well as a legislative fix intended to give homeowners the means to “cure” such deeds and remove the offending language.

1917: In Buchanan v. Warley, the U.S. Supreme Court declares municipally mandated racial zoning nconstitutional, thus giving rise to the practice of private agreements, such as racially restricted covenants, which enables developers to perpetuate residential segregation.

1920s-1948: Racially restricted covenants by private parties are normalized after the U.S. Supreme Court validated their use in Corrigan v. Buckley. These covenants are used nationwide to prevent people of color from purchasing homes in white communities. 1948: In the landmark case of Shelly v. Kraemer, a Missouri neighborhood tries to undo the sale of a home to a black family due to a covenant stating that no home was to be sold to any person “of the Negro or Mongolian Race.” The U.S. Supreme Court overturns Buchanan by holding that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection prohibits courts, as state actors, from enforcing racially restrictive covenants resulting in the deprivation of property.

1948-1963: Despite being “unenforceable,” developers continue to insert racially restrictive covenants in deeds, in an effort to maintain unofficial racial segregation.

1963-1968: The California legislature passes the California Fair Housing/ Act, better known as the Rumford Act, prohibiting California property owners from discriminating based on race. The Act takes its name from its author, Democratic Assemblyman Byron Rumford, an African- American legislator from Berkeley. In 1964, however, the California Real Estate Association sponsors the infamous Proposition 14, a referendum that passed 2-1, in an unabashed attempt to repeal the Rumford Act.

Proposition 14 purported to amend the California Constitution as follows: Neither the State nor any subdivision or agency thereof shall deny, limit or abridge, directly or indirectly, the right of any person, who is willing or desires to sell, lease or rent any part or all of his real property, to decline to sell, lease or rent such property to such person or persons as he, in his absolute discretion, chooses.

In response, the federal government cut off housing funds to California. Proposition 14 is cited as one of the catalysts for the Watts riots of 1965, and the basis for Governor Pat Brown’s 1966 defeat in his gubernatorial re-election bid. Brown referred to Proposition 14 as a “cudgel of bigotry.” In contrast, the victor in the election, Ronald Reagan, supported Proposition 14, based on his view of property rights. Reagan referred to the Rumford Act as an attempt “to give one segment of our population a right at the expense of the basic rights of all our citizens.” Ultimately, the California Supreme Court struck Proposition 14 as unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the federal Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that ruling in Reitman v. Mulkey (1967).

1968: Under the federal Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, passed by Congress days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the inclusion of new racially-restrictive covenants into deeds is finally deemed illegal, although their vestiges can be found within the language of many deeds even today.

2000: California legislature amends the Fair Employment & Housing Act (“FEHA”) to provide a process for removing racially restrictive covenants from deeds. Also under the new law, any person who records a document for the express purpose of adding a racially restrictive covenant is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Gov. Code12956.1(c).)

2006: California legislature transfers responsibility for the restrictive covenant removal program from FEHA to county recorders, advising that such public officials make available to the public ‘Restrictive Covenant modification’ forms. (Gov. Code §12956.2(e).) After Jan. 1, 2006, any person holding an ownership interest of record in a property that he or she believes is the subject of an illegal restrictive covenant may record a document titled “Restrictive Covenant Modification” with the county recorder in the county in which the subject property is located.

As a result, many counties in California have published forms for homeowners to quickly and easily modify their deeds, pursuant to the 2006 law.

Stay tuned: What is the process for removing racially restrictive language from deeds in Ventura County, and which Ventura County deeds are most likely to contain such language?

 Rabiah Rahman is an attorney in Port Hueneme.

 Panda Kroll is an attorney at Benton, Orr, Duval & Buckingham and a member of CITATIONS’ editorial board.


The Ventura Barristers have been busy as usual. The most recent Barristers event was the Judges’ Pizza Night, held at the beautiful and lively Peirano’s Restaurant in downtown Ventura on Oct. 15. The event was a success. Justice Steven Perren, Judges Harry Walsh, Jeff Bennett, Rocky Bio and Nancy Ayers were kind enough to give their time and show their support. The Barristers would like to thank each of the judges who were in attendance. Special thanks also go to California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) and the Law Office of Ben Schuck & Katherine Becker, LLP for sponsoring this wonderful event. Katherine Becker is the Barristers’ current president.

Think you are a trivia master? Come test your knowledge at the upcoming Barristers Trivia Night. An always-popular event that is not to be missed, the bi-annual trivia night is a great way to get together with friends and colleagues and enjoy a friendly battle of wit. Hosted by Barristers board member Andrew Ellison, this month’s Trivia Night is set for Nov. 19 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Garman’s Restaurant and Irish Pub in Santa Paula. It’s only ten dollars to participate so we hope to see you there!

The biggest news to report is that the Barristers have been working on putting together an exciting panel of speakers for the “Bridging the Gap” MCLE event at the Hall of Administration on Jan. 16. This program includes a number of specialty credits as well as general credits. This event is a great way to get those extra MCLE credits and to have the chance to mingle with your fellow Ventura attorneys. Speakers, topics and further information will be announced shortly.

It is also getting close to that time of year when bar exam results are announced. Results will be announced Friday, Nov. 20. The Barristers will be holding a reception on Dec. 1st at 3:00 PM for newly admitted members of the Bar.

Lauren Wood is a partner at the Law Offices of Schurmer and Wood, specializing in personal injury and wrongful death matters. She is a Ventura Barristers Board Member and is also involved in the J.H.B. American Inns of Court, Jerome H. Berenson Chapter.




I met Laura Bartels in 2009 after Joe Strohman walked into my office and told me about Santa Clara Valley Legal Aid, which I had never heard of. That week I showed up to volunteer at Legal Aid and met her and the rest of the crew. Laura’s leg was in a cast because she had an adventure in a skiff crossing over a rough river bar to the ocean and broke her foot, but she still showed up that Thursday night to volunteer.

That was my first experience with Laura’s dedication to service and compassionate justice. Nothing has changed in the six years that I’ve known her.

She still has adventures and she’s still the most caring person I know. She’s also a lot of fun. Since that time, I have sat in a field of jalapeños between our houses (she’s my neighbor), drinking champagne with her in the middle of the night, gone with her to every Colin Firth movie that came out, and played hooky and visited the Getty Villa during working hours. I probably should not admit that last one in print but oh well, I just did. She is now the recipient of the Ben E. Nordman award, the highest honor of our local bar association. My reaction?

It’s about freaking time.

Known for her two decades of work with Fillmore’s Santa Clara Valley Legal Aid, Laura began volunteering there as an attorney in 1997, “just a few days after I got my results” from the bar exam. She’s been there ever since, acting as the director since 2002. This means two decades of volunteering every Thursday night during the school year. Laura is proud of the fact that most of the attorneys at SCVLA have received the State Bar’s Pro Bono Service Award; Laura received it in 2001 along with Debora Vierra, the Legal Aid’s founder.

SCVLA has served over 11,000 people since its inception. It is unique as an all-volunteer organization that relies exclusively on individual donations. Laura describes the power of transformation at SCVLA – how the focused, active listening to people sharing their problems and giving them legal advice and hope, validates their concerns and liberates them toward change. She loves helping people because it is “so rewarding.” SCVLA provides information to the individuals and families who come; if necessary, individual matters are handled by the attorneys on their own. 

I personally saw one family come to SCVLA who was getting evicted after living in the same place for years and years. They were given a sixty day notice and there really was no defense to the unlawful detainer. Laura was in tears at their story, and by the end of the evening, the father was comforting Laura, telling her that it would be okay, their family would find a home.

Her heart knows no bounds.

She started volunteering in the 1990s for the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese, helping victims of clergy sexual misconduct. She observed first-hand “the transformative power of having the person tell their story and having someone listen and be an advocate.” Since then, she hasn’t stopped being of service.

She has been elected Bardsdale’s representative to the Valley Advisory Committee (a Santa Clara Valley land use advisory committee to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors), appointed to the Ventura County Planning Commission (including serving as chair), a member of the Santa Paula Hospital Board of Directors, a mentor for Ventura County Big Brother- Big Sisters, a member of the Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau Board, President of the Ventura County Bar Association, and many, many other activities, including coaching Fillmore High School Mock Trial. Laura’s unique ability to immediately connect to people strengthens the bond created in serving others.

For four years she organized a winter coat drive in Fillmore, giving away around 1,800 coats; this was the only time I have ever been Black Friday shopping: with Laura Bartels at 3 in the morning, buying out Macy’s, Old Navy, and J.C. Penney’s. After the coat drive got too unwieldy, she still went to Walmart, bought as many soccer balls as would fit in her car (around fifty) and gave them out at Christmas.

Last year she actively participated in a local coalition in providing assistance to immigrant children fleeing from Central America, who were temporarily housed at Port Hueneme Naval Air Base.

Professionally and personally speaking, Laura has a rich history. She grew up on the north Oregon Coast, daughter to a professional artist and professor father and gallery owner anthropologist mother on Neahkahnie Mountain north of Manzanita, in a house with no electricity, so there was no television. They used kerosene lamps and candles for light and a wood stove for heat. The refrigerator and water heater were powered by propane. To this day she hates camping. After high school she attended Mount Holyoke College, the oldest women’s college in the country, with a degree in History and a minor in Women’s Studies.

Laura’s ancestors settled in the Cayman Islands in the 1790s, and her family still has a presence there. When visiting the Caymans, she is appalled by the imbalance of poverty and wealth, noting that although the Caymans are known for banking and tourism, Jamaican service workers at five star hotels earn about four dollars a day. When she goes on her annual trips, she fills up a suitcase with supplies from the dollar store: eyeglasses, makeup, coloring books, school supplies, bandaids, and other items that are expensive there and distributes them. When she broached the idea of developing a legal access program for immigrant worker tenants in the Caymans who lived in cramped, appalling squalor, she was rebuffed by the parliamentarian who said “Tenant rights? There’s no such thing. We have LANDLORD rights.”

Husband Bill is the Ventura County Film Liaison and Laura’s supportive, caring and deeply loved partner. Married 28 years ago, their 3 children are the fifth generation of Bartels who have grown up in the ranch house built by Bill’s great grandfather 100 years ago. Son Matthew (13) is an 8th grader at Fillmore Middle School; Hannah (15) is a 10th grader at La Reina High School; and Nico (17) is a senior at Fillmore High School. The family farm is  currently planted to artichokes, but has grown jalapeños for Sriracha hot chili sauce, Brussels sprouts and navels and Valencias.

Laura started working for John Scoles in 1988 as a legal assistant. With his encouragement, she began studying law at Ventura College of Law in the mid-90s and took the February 1997 bar. With her paralegal Joi Searson, office manager Andrea Davis, and office German Shepherds Twiggy and Brando, she has an active probate and estate planning practice in Fillmore at Taylor, Scoles & Bartels which is celebrating 85 years of serving the families and farmers of the Santa Clara Valley.

Laura is quite the Foo Fighter fan, and thanks to family connections, Laura has seen, to date, 39 shows, in cities throughout California, as well as St. Louis, Atlantic City, New York, Kansas City, and even Germany. Recently her seats were on the stage with her mother, where the guitar techs had to walk around her. Besides the Foos, she is a licensed pilot and her hobbies are photography, activities with her children, cheering Le Tour de France and playing hooky with me.

She also collects handshakes with famous people. On her list so far: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, guitarist Dave Grohl, writer Ram Dass, software guru Peter Norton, California Chief Justice Ronald George (ret.), California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakayue and singer Sheryl Crowe. Margaret Mead, the noted anthropologist, was a good friend of Laura’s mother and her famous quote seems to have seeped its way into the fiber of Laura’s being: “Never doubt a  small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world … indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Laura has received other honors and awards, including the Volunteer Lawyer Services Program award in 2001 and 2003, and the Holly Spevak Memorial Award from the Ventura County Women Lawyers in 2012. However, the Nordman award is truly a special honor.

I am proud of Laura and wholeheartedly believe that she deserves this recognition. She is the epitome of the selfless lawyer, the one who gives it all for her clients and the one who tirelessly works for justice. I am proud to call her my friend.

Leslie McAdam is a partner at Ferguson Case Orr/ Paterson LLP, where she handles business litigation, employment counsel and litigation, and real estate matters. Leslie is a six-year veteran volunteer of Santa Clara Valley Legal Aid.