Allow me to take a moment to say thank you. And to express just how grateful we are to the Marin County Bar Association (“MCBA”) for volunteer attorneys. Our small but mighty court would not operate as effectively without help from the talented MCBA lawyers who volunteer.

Volunteering with the court, and also volunteering as a pro bono attorney within the legal community, allows MCBA members to not only connect with people in need of legal guidance, but also to interact with members of the community. Not only does it feel good to help those in need, but lawyer volunteerism promotes broader access to justice. With so many people in need of legal assistance, MCBA members have many options to contribute in a meaningful way as a volunteer.

Volunteerism is an excellent way to build a reputation as a talented lawyer who cares about community. Volunteer lawyers network with other equally talented lawyers, and volunteering is a good way to help lawyers feel good about being a lawyer.
For litigators who want to become mediators or judges, we have a couple of programs in which you may find of interest. I recall back in the olden days when I was a lawyer, I volunteered as a settlement conference panelist on several complex employment cases that were set for trial. As a panelist, I gained invaluable experience by stepping out of the role of an advocate and into the role of a neutral. I’ll never forget the sense of accomplishment I felt helping parties both save fees and avoid a risky jury trial by helping to settle their case.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the court offered lawyers many volunteer opportunities. Now that the health emergency is ending in Marin, our hope is that more members of the MCBA will return to the court and volunteer. I can tell you there is a great need for volunteers.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of volunteer opportunities at the court available to MCBA members:
The Bench Bar Committee. The Bench Bar Committee is an MCBA Committee that meets once every quarter and includes members of the MCBA and a bench officer from each of the four divisions (Family, Civil, Criminal, and Probate/Trusts). The purpose of the Bench Bar is to create and implement programs that improve how our court operates within each practice area. If you’re interested in learning more, please send an email to David Winnett. (
Bench Bar Settlement Conferences (“BBSC”) in the family division. The BBSC program provides overwhelmed parties with one pre-trial settlement conference involving a Judge Pro Tem and two highly skilled panelists from the MCBA family section; that is three skilled lawyers from our community who attempt to settle one case. If you would like to apply to be a panelist, please send an email to Cathi Larson, to begin the application process. (
Court-appointed temporary judges under CRC 2.810-819. A Judge Pro Tem is an attorney who has satisfied the requirements for appointment under the rules of court, and has been appointed by the court to serve in that capacity. An experienced lawyer with a civil background who becomes Judge Pro Tem can preside over small claims trials; an experienced lawyer with a family law background can preside as a Judge Pro Tem in Bench Bar Settlement Conferences.
Discovery Facilitator Program. For discovery disputes in the civil, probate, and family departments, any unresolved discovery motion is forwarded to a discovery facilitator panelist for resolution prior to court review. Each panelist must be licensed for at least 10 years. If you would like to apply to be a panelist, please send an email to Cathi Larson, to begin the application process. (
Interdisciplinary Settlement Conferences (“ISC”) regarding child custody. An ISC involves the participation of two volunteer panelists, one a family law attorney and the other a mental health professional experienced in parenting disputes, who assist the judicial officer in working with the parents to settle a parenting dispute. If you practice family law and would like to apply to be a panelist, please send an email to Cathi Larson, to begin the application process. (
Mandatory Settlement Conference Program. For any civil and probate dispute, the court conducts a Mandatory Settlement Conference. Some matters are resolved with the assistance of a settlement conference panelist, who must be licensed for at least 10 years. If you would like to apply to be a panelist, please send an email to Cathi Larson, to begin the application process. (
Minor’s Counsel. Family Code §3150 permits the court to appoint private counsel to represent the interest of a child in a custody or visitation proceeding. Counsel appointed by the court is charged with representation of the child’s best interest. See, CRC 5.242 for the education, training and experience requirements. If Minor’s Counsel is appointed by the Court, the hourly rate is $90.00.
Pro Per Tuesday afternoon calendar for petitions of dissolution of marriage/separation/parentage. These three family departments operate pro per calendars on the first, second and third Tuesdays of the month at 1:30 p.m. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteer attorneys from the MCBA family division participated in assisting pro per litigants with their questions. Stay-tuned regarding when this program will begin again.
Unlawful Detainer Calendar. Volunteer opportunities on the civil unlawful detainer calendar are through Legal Aid of Marin representing low-income individuals who meet income guidelines. If you would like additional information, please contact Legal Aid of Marin. (415-492-0230)

When I participate in statewide judicial conferences, I get to brag to other judges about how many volunteers we have in our courts every week. It really is amazing. And I don’t mind boasting about the quality of our bar to other judges.
Again, thank you. We are very grateful.