The Marin Lawyer recently sat down with John Cuerva, the new co-chair for MCBA’s family law section. He plans to continue the section’s tradition of providing informative lectures and helping to foster professional relationships among members.

What is your practice area?

Family law and wills and trusts.

Do you have a particular emphasis?

My practice focuses primarily on family law: dissolutions, custody, support. Although I prefer to negotiate and settle disputes because it saves my clients time and money, I enjoy the challenge of going to trial. If a parent needs a strong advocate, then he or she should call me. My wills and trusts practice focuses on estate plans for middle class folks—people with a house, children, and retirement/brokerage accounts. It is straightforward estate planning. I am also bilingual in Spanish and enjoy working with Latino clients.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

When I was a kid, I admired Abraham Lincoln, and he was a lawyer. So, there you go.

Why do you live in Marin?

I am a graduate of Terra Linda High School. (Go Trojans!) I have friends and family in the County.

What do you do when you're not practicing law?

I like to hike and kayak. I also used to be a photojournalist and a wedding photographer, so I love photography; I still shoot film.

If you could pursue any other career besides law, what would it be and why?

Before I became an attorney, I was a public high school English teacher. I taught in Palo Alto, Rome, and Napa. If I left the law, I would probably go back to the classroom. I miss thinking about Shakespeare and poetry. Also, the most rewarding work I ever did was the two years I taught remedial reading to ninth graders. Many of my freshmen had never read an entire book until they took my class. Seeing them realize that they, too, were now readers was deeply satisfying.

Why did you join MCBA?

Marie Barnes made me. She's relentless; nice, but relentless. In all seriousness, I joined MCBA to have an opportunity to get to know the Marin Bar. Marin is a tight-knit community and I believe the Bar offers many opportunities to meet and establish relationships with other practitioners.

If you had to pick a single highlight of your career, what would it be?

Recently, I secured equal custody and visitation for a father of a five-year-old son, and I defeated the mother's move-away request. The mother had alienated their child from his father, falsely accused him of assault, and was trying to move the child out of state so that she could continue to restrict my client's relationship with his son. Upon being granted unsupervised visitation and joint custody, my client informed me that his life had changed fundamentally for the better.