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2010 - 2013 Recommendations


ARAG-covered consulting divorce attorney

Nov 2012

My husband and I are divorcing and are using a mediator. I understand that we can each have a consulting attorney. I am beginning to think that is a good idea, but would need someone covered by ARAG, my UC legal insurance. Any recommendations? I'm in Contra Costa County, but am open to anyone if they are really good. Thanks.


David Holcomb at (510) 868-8897; see his reviews on Yelp. Kyle

ARAG Lawyer for Estate Planning?

Nov 2012

We need to do some quick estate-planning, nothing very complicated, and would appreciate current recommendations for lawyers covered by ARAG in the Berkeley/Oakland area. Suggestions by professionals with experience in the field especially appreciated. Thanks for your help! rachel I would highly recommend Sara Diamond, http://www.saradiamondattorney.com/. Sara helped us through the process of setting up a trust and got our wills put together. I'm so happy I saw this question and was able to chime in with a recommendation for Sara Diamond. _Gary


Sara Diamond handled our ARAG-covered estate planning and was fantastic. Right in downtown Berkeley. fan of ARAG and Sara
For a Will and Trust lawyer, I can highly recommend Amir Atashi Rang. He is truly an outstanding attorney and person. A friend who saw him privately convinced him to get on ARAG's schedule. Since then my friends have passed him around like hotcakes. I have used a lot of lawyers in my life, and he is one of the best--smart, very thorough, and very very ethical with great values and morals. He has an office in SF but opened an office in North Berkeley one day a week to serve his East Bay clients. You will be thrilled!! Amir Atashi Rang (415) 398-7275 Kay

Ever used UC legal insurance, recommend lawyer?

Oct 2012

We need to do the whole host of basic legal documents (will, medical directives, maybe a trust for our house?) as we have a kid and now are homeowners. I work for UC, so can enroll in the ARAG legal insurance benefit during open enrollment in Nov, but not sure if it will be worth it. Have you used this benefit? Would you recommend the lawyer you used? In the past we've had other types of insurance (homeowners warranty package) that used a network of providers that all were all awful. I will pay $100-$150 for a year of coverage, would like any advice on whether it will be worth it, or if I should rather just pick a good lawyer from BPN and pay retail, or try Nolo press. Thanks for your help! --barely legal


My husband & I (both UC employees) used the ARAG legal insurance benefit a couple of years ago for Estate Planning & Medical directives etc. It was completely worth it & didn't cost us anything. I called some of the lawyers recommended on BPN, but they unfortunately weren't part of ARAG. They referred me to Sara Diamond: 510-548-4844; sarardiamond@sbcglobal.net; http://www.saradiamondattorney.com/. It was great working with her - she was very patient with our questions and it was very convenient as she is in Downtown Berkeley on Shattuck. I highly recommend her. Anon
I have the UC Legal ARAG legal insurance and can wholeheartedly recommend an outstanding lawyer on this plan for Wills and Trusts and Health Directives. His name is Amir Atashi Rang and his contact information is (415) 398-7275. You will love this man!! He is a gentleman, knowledgeable, and takes the time and effort to get to know you and your situation in detail and covers everything thoroughly. He is a total delight and you will come to love him. I first learned of him through a UC friend and many of us have passed his name on to our friends and we all adore him! His main office is in San Francisco (near BART and worth the trip!) but he got so many referrals through UC he opened a satellite office in Berkeley where he comes one day a week or so. Kay

Need UCB-covered (ARAG) lawyer for will & estate

Oct 2012

I need a recommendation for an attorney in Walnut Creek or close by who is covered by the UCB legal plan, ARAG. I need to update my will, durable power of attorney, durable power of attorney for health care, and my living will. The great attorney used for these is not covered, and I'm now in the middle of a divorce, so I need to find someone who is less expensive. I've never used ARAG, so if anyone who has can share your experiences, good or bad, as well, that would be helpful. divorce is SO expensive


I am at UCB and used ARAG for wills for me and my husband about 2 years ago. It was great - super easy - and totally covered (all we paid for was the notary fee). We used Sara Diamond who is in downtown Berkeley and she was fantastic - and easy to walk from campus to her office for the initial consultation and then to sign the final docs.

If you had paid for it yourself it would easily be $400 or $500 so I think the insurance is definitely worth it. You didn't ask this but we have had other legal issues come up completely unexpectedly and its great to have a lawyer ''on call'' to assist us at no cost. ARAG fan


I can recommend Sara Diamond: 510-548-4844; sarardiamond@sbcglobal.net; http://www.saradiamondattorney.com/. Anon
Hi, I was totally satisfied with the Will and Trust Attorney I selected who as an aside was covered by ARAG. In fact, he is one of the best attorneys I have ever used, plan or no plan. I reviewed him above for the other poster asking a similar question. His name is Amir Atashi Rang and his contact information is (415) 398-7275.

You also ask if ARAG is worth it. I say unequivocally yes! I have hired 4 attorneys through them, one out of state, and one not on their register (if they don't have one where you need one then you can go outside the plan and if the attorney agrees ARAG will contract with them). Three of the attorneys I used were excellent. The only one who I felt to be average was a family law attorney in Contra Costa County. All of this was over a protracted child custody battle. ARAG saved my retirement as I would have spent all of it on this case! The monthly fee for coverage is so low and you never know in life when you will need an attorney. In the Bay Area, one hour of an attorney will cost what you would pay for almost 4 years of legal coverage premiums....so I think this is cheap insurance. And just using the Will and Trust attorney alone was worth it, and that is something everyone needs to do at some point. Just my thoughts.... Kay


ARAG attorney for a trust

March 2012

Can anyone recommend an attorney that accepts ARAG insurance for writing a trust? Thanks. Trying to get this done


We went to Herb Gee in Berkeley, he accepts ARAG and got the job done. Jane
I highly recommend Sara Diamond in downtown Berkeley. The process was much simpler and faster than I thought it would be, thanks largely to her organization and thorough preparation. http://www.saradiamondattorney.com/ Mary
We used Erik Liggins for to make a family trust and will. It was a pleasure working with him and he was very diligent. He is located in Hayward. www.ligginslawfirm.com
wendy
Sara Diamond. She works out of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Berkeley. She's clear, a straight-shooter, and she stays within the ARAG cost limits (another ARAG lawyer in downtown Oakland gave an estimate way over what ARAG covers). Satisfied customer

ARAG Criminal Lawyer

Nov 2010

Can anyone recommend a criminal lawyer that is part of ARAG UCB's legal plan? My railfan husband received a misdemeanor trespassing ticket which can result in a fine up to $10,000 plus jail time. Needless to say he was not trespassing, but this is very worrisome. Thanks. Anonymous


We talked with a couple of criminal lawyers on ARAG when my son faced a marijuana possession charge. Michael Berger took the case. He has a wide range of experience with misdemeanors and felonies. (My son had to attend a 2 hour class, and had the citation dropped from his record). We also had a consultation with a second practice, with an associate of Elizabeth Grossman (I can't remember his name). He had not been in practice as long as either Berger or Grossman, but the firm seemed very much geared towards clients rights, and he gave my son a lot of good advice on what he should do when approached by police. Needless to say, this situation is different from your husband's, but in general my experience with ARAG is that the attorneys on the plan have been knowledgeable and helpful. I've learned more than I wanted to know about the law
I paid for UC-based ARAG benefits for nine years before I finally gave up. The Berkeley area ARAG participants are few and far between and mainly specialize in family law, trusts, etc. Other than use the benefits for drawing up my trust, they were useless. Unfortunately, you'd do better to hire an independent attorney. Good luck! Anonymous
While I haven't needed the services of a criminal lawyer from ARAG, I must say that my two needs: tenant/landlord and child support were very professionally handled with excellent outcomes. Hurrah for ARAG!

2007 - 2009 Recommendations


Divorce lawyers covered by ARAG

Sept 2008

I'm looking for up-to-date recommendations for divorce lawyers covered by the UC Berkeley ARAG plan. We are using mediation to work out an agreement and I simply want the lawyer to pull together the official paperwork and provide an independent assessment about whether the divorce agreement is fair. A lawyer who is sensitive to the needs of children and the challenges of working out an equitable custody agreement that is in the best interests of the child would be important. I do not want a lawyer who will push me into litigation and conflict. anon


Don't waste your time trying to find a lawyer through ARAG. In my experience, most won't return your calls and the two that I worked with were terrible: dragged their heels, were discourteous, did not help me get the process work done that I needed. You do get a benefit reimbursement from ARAG if you go to a lawyer outside the network, so I suggest that you use it. Sarah Leverett in Oakland is a good mediation lawyer. Hope this is helpful.

Need a UCB Legal Plan attorney to do our wills

May 2007

Hello, I work for UCB and was wondering if anyone who also works for UCB knows of a good UCB Legal (ARAG) attorney that does wills through ARAG at Berkeley. If you know of one, can you please give me a few names to work with, it would be very much appreciated. Thank you. anon


We used a wonderful attorney to do our will -- her name is Kathleen Hunt -- she's based in Richmond and has very flexible hours -- you can reach her at kathleenhunt[at]uniquelaw.com -- she is very easy to work with, quite knowledgeable, and helpful in every way -- we had many follow-up questions after our will/trust was done, and she always answered each phone call or e-mail on a timely basis without charging us a cent! Marguerita
Both my husband and I work at UCB and we did our wills with Hale Kronenberg (through ARAG) He has an office on Shattuck in front of the BART station. His number is 510-526-5054

2004 - 2006 Recommendations


ARAG-listed Lawyer for Will/Estate, East Bay

June 2006

Any updated recommendations for an ARAG-listed attorney in the Richmond-to- Oakland corridor who is good with wills, trusts, and the like? Thanks --


I don't know what ''ARAG-listed Lawyer'' means but I know that Richard Lee has decades of experience as an attorney, specializing in wills, trusts, etc. 510.272.0200. Office is at 11 Embarcadero West, Suite 140, near Jack London Square in Oakland. Best wishes Ann

ARAG Legal Service

June 2006

I noticed on the Berkeley Parents Network that there are very few reviews of attorneys that are covered under the ARAG Legal Plan for UCB employees. If you have had any experience with any of the attorneys on the plan for any legal matter, please reply and let us all know what you thought of the service, good or bad, and the legal issue. I recently had a bad experience and will share it as well. THANKS, Just Divorced


ARAG lawyers- We HIGHLY recommend Sara Diamond, found off this list. She's conveniently located in downtown Berkeley. She's straighforward, hard working, kind and a great listener. She's in the midst of doing our wills and trusts. We feel we're in great hands Hilary
If your divorce is amicable, Margaret Hill is nice and will do a good job. Her office is in Berkeley (near Ashby on College). If your divorce is not amicable, pay the money up front for the best lawyer you can get. Find someone who you think you can trust to make decisions that you can live with later. It is even more incumbant to do that if you have children. The more attuned your lawyer is with you, the less stress you will have, the better you will be able to help your children through the pain. Remember, it's not who wins or loses the sound system but who comes out more whole so that they can heal and move on Poor yet happy to be single

UC Legal Plan Attorney for Living Will

Jan 2006

I am looking for current/recent recommedations for an attorney who accepts the UC Legal Plan (ARAG) to draw up a living will/trust. I checked the website, and there are no recent recommendations posted. Holly


Herb Gee in Berkeley drafted my will, DPA, living trust and other documents and he is available on the ARAG plan. He was fine, it was all very straightfoward. Rebecca

UC Legal Plan lawyer for trust

June 2004

We want to draw up a will and possibly a trust using one of the lawyers in the UC Legal Plan (now administered by ARAG.) Does anyone have any recommendations on lawyers that are currently in this plan? I noticed that the hourly rates vary widely (from $150-300/hr)--is this a case where you get what you pay for? Do more experienced lawyers tend to charge more?

Also, how was your experience with the ARAG plan? Can a will and trust and other advance directives be completed within the initial 8 hours, or will we need to spend more time (and money)? We have a daughter we need to designate a guardian for, but otherwise, minimal assets (no property, etc.) Do we need to fill out any forms ahead of time? Would it be helpful to assemble a basic will or trust using Nolo Press books and software first, or is this unnecessary?

The archived recommendations are minimal, and also don't address the new plan administrator (ARAG) and other questions. Trying to get our wills together


I've used ARAG (not through UC) for several years now for wills. Our plan includes wills as part of the package -- no extra fees, not hourly -- and included healthcare directives, powers of attorney etc. We haven't set up a trust (not enough asset to warrant) but my understanding is that if it's basic, it's included. You might want to check out the website and see what kind of law the attorneys listed specialize in when choosing -- I chose mine based on geography because we didn't have any special needs. It's a pretty easy process, you meet w/ the lawyer, discuss your needs, assets, special concerns, how you want the proceeds directed etc. They draw up the will, send it to you to review, make any changes, and you come back in to sign/witness/notarize.

It will be helpful if you have everyone's full legal name, address, relationship, what your assets are, how you want it to be divided, and in what order, whether certain items are excluded (you've already designated a beneficiary), specific items that will go to specific persons, who you want to assign as the executor etc. As a side note, sit down and make a list of all your assets, account numbers, institutions, locations etc. so should something happen to you, it can be accessed easily.

The hourly rate are for when you use their lawyers for trials and such, all other services listed are included unless noted otherwise.

In the meantime, prepare a holographic will until you get that one drawn up. Basically, just write out what you want done in your own handwriting and sign it. It would be helpful to have a witness but not necessary. This handwritten note will hold up in court as a legal document until you get the formal will drawn up. shedragon


UC Legal Plan Lawyers for Will/Trust

June 2004

We want to draw up a will and possibly a trust using one of the lawyers in the UC Legal Plan (now administered by ARAG.) Does anyone have any recommendations on lawyers that are currently in this plan? I noticed that the hourly rates vary widely (from $150-300/hr)--is this a case where you get what you pay for? Do more experienced lawyers tend to charge more?

Some of the participating lawyers: In Berkeley: Cliff Capdevielle, Robert Anderson, Duane Leonard, Hale Kronenberg, Martin Elmer, Herbert Gee, Zachary Epstein. In Oakland: Frank Offen, Henry Epstein, Robert Glickstein, Lane Parker, Robert Bolt, Doris Figman, David Sternfeld. In Alameda: Nancy Hoffman, Ron Bochner In Orinda: Tasos Geron, Edgar Lana

Also, how was your experience with the ARAG plan? Can a will and trust and other advance directives be completed within the initial 8 hours, or will we need to spend more time (and money)? We have a daughter we need to designate a guardian for, but otherwise, minimal assets (no property, etc.) Do we need to fill out any forms ahead of time? Would it be helpful to assemble a basic will or trust using Nolo Press books and software first, or is this unnecessary?

The archived recommendations are minimal, and also don't address the new plan administrator (ARAG) and other questions. Trying to get our wills together


I've used ARAG (not through UC) for several years now for wills. Our plan includes wills as part of the package -- no extra fees, not hourly -- and included healthcare directives, powers of attorney etc. We haven't set up a trust (not enough asset to warrant) but my understanding is that if it's basic, it's included. You might want to check out the website and see what kind of law the attorneys listed specialize in when choosing -- I chose mine based on geography because we didn't have any special needs. It's a pretty easy process, you meet w/ the lawyer, discuss your needs, assets, special concerns, how you want the proceeds directed etc. They draw up the will, send it to you to review, make any changes, and you come back in to sign/witness/notarize.

It will be helpful if you have everyone's full legal name, address, relationship, what your assets are, how you want it to be divided, and in what order, whether certain items are excluded (you've already designated a beneficiary), specific items that will go to specific persons, who you want to assign as the executor etc. As a side note, sit down and make a list of all your assets, account numbers, institutions, locations etc. so should something happen to you, it can be accessed easily.

The hourly rate are for when you use their lawyers for trials and such, all other services listed are included unless noted otherwise.

In the meantime, prepare a holographic will until you get that one drawn up. Basically, just write out what you want done in your own handwriting and sign it. It would be helpful to have a witness but not necessary. This handwritten note will hold up in court as a legal document until you get the formal will drawn up.


UC Benefits Legal Care- for adoption

June 2004

I'm looking for a lawyer to help us adopt our foster children. The following are provided free through the UC Berkeley Legal Care program (the ''Arag Group''). Does anyone have experience with any of them, good or bad? Jaime Alcabes; Regis Amann; Michael Amthor; David Biasotti; Thomas Bishop; Albert Boasberg; Robert Borris Jr.; Jb Brainerd; Brooke Brigham; Cliff Capdevielle; Brian Chase; Hermin Dowe; Martin Elmer; Timothy Fricker; Tasos Geron; C. Gibson; Wendy Gibson; Merle Harding; Samuel Joens; Albert Kun; Anthony Lowenstein; Norman Macleod; James Mccarthy; Kay Mears; Frannie Mok-Wang; John Noonan; Frank Offen; Ora Prochovnick; Veronica Panella; Dean Shotwell; John Stringer; David Tomcik; Harald Westendorf. Also, has anyone had good experience with an attorney not on this list for adoption/De Facto Parenthood status? Thanks for any insights you can provide - you can email me off- line or to the network- Jane


I've known Ora Prochovnik over email... she is extremely sharp and takes her job very seriously. I'd recommend her without reservation--and I've seen several couples do just that, with regard to adoption. Jennie

2003 & Earlier


January 2003

Does anyone know of a good attorney in the Signature Legal Care plan, the plan offered to UC Berkeley employees, who could help me draw up a living will? I'd prefer someone in the Berkeley/Albany area, perhaps near campus, where I wor anonymous


My husband and I recently completed the will, trust, guardianship, advanced directives/living will process after the birth of our first child. Zaccary Epstein an attorney in Berkeley assisted us in this process. I highly recommend him! He was informative and thorough. His fees were extremely reasonable and I believe he participates in the UC Plan. His office is on Addison in Berkeley and his telephone number is 510-841-4500. Anon
October 2002

Can anyone give advice (good or bad) about their experiences using lawyers available through Signature Legal Services (the UCB legal insurance plan.) We would like to set up the necessary documents for a revokable living trust etc. and just basically put our estate affairs in order. The information from the insurance company is incredibly confusing, so I thought I'd ask the list. It would be especially helpful to hear the names of lawyers people have used to do this in the Berk/Oakland area.


Zachary Epstein is a participating attorney with Signature Legal insurance. I worked with him to have a living trust, a will and a durable power of attorney prepared. Based on that experience, I recommend him without reservation. He was easy to work with and knew what he was doing. His office is near campus, at 1915 Addison St. in Berkeley, and his telephone number is 510-841- 4500. Nice guy too. Donna

2001 Recommendations

December 2001

Hi, I would like to know how to enroll in the legal care program offered by UC Berkeley. My husband is a faculty and according to the source he enquired from said that we could only enroll during 'open enrollment' period. Is there any way we could enroll now? We are both from abroad and have no relatives here. We feel uncomfortable without will or plan if anything happens to us because we have two kids. If you know anything about UC legal care program, please let me know. I tried to call several places on campus but no one responds to my call.


You should check for sure with your Department Benefits person, but my understanding of Legal Care is that unless you sign up through your Period of Inital Enrollment (PIE) you can only get the insurance every other year during Open Enrollment. You can check with the Human Resources Office as well, though they may not be around this week much.
My family has enrolled in the LegalCare program offered through UC-Benefits. I am waiting to receive more information, but in the meantime, does anyone out there has any words of advice about this program, and who or who not to see in the East Bay area for legal services involving setting up wills, power of atty, etc. Cindy
In May 2000 I used Herbert Gee at 1936 University Avenue (548-3000, near the USE Credit Union) to draw up a will (which included nominating a guardian for my daughter) and a durable power of attorney. Herb was fast the entire process took four days from my first phone call to leaving his office with finished notarized documents. I wasn't sure about the quality of the lawyers on the plan, but Herb is a Boalt graduate. If you haven't already, make sure you get paperwork from Signature LegalCare before your appointment. It's supposed to be available on the web (www.legalcareplan.com), but I couldn't download the forms successfully so Signature faxed me copies. Jenne
I suspect that the LegalCare plan is not the deal it used to be: Last summer, when Signature Legal Care took over from Prudential, many fine attorneys who do estate planning--Pulich & Lowe (whom people on this list have recommended), Lawrence Moll, Nancy Dooley-- did not send in contracts with the new provider. Hale Kronenberg of Berkeley is one of the few specializing in this area that did renew. A couple of years ago when I used the plan's lawayers-on-call phone line and the attorney was unable to answer a specific question about children's trusts, he suggested I phone one of the attorney's who specialized in estate planning. The attorney I phoned was Marc Weissman (still with the plan!) and although his main office is in Foster city, he also has an office in San Francisco. He not only answered my question, but went on to give helpful explanations and advice. A very nice man. (But this phone call was my only experience with him). Don't use someone for estate planning who doesn't specialize in this area. The law has gotten too complex. You might even ask if he or she is a certified specialist in estate planning (helpful, though not necessary, except for large estates), though I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't any left in the Signature Legal Care Plan.
I have used the LegalCare insurance twice. For estate planning/trusts/wills, I used Robin Pulich (who was recommended to me by a financial consultant whose opinion I respect). Robin was *great*. She is experienced in the area of wills and trusts and gave me good advice. Also, on the issue of appointing a guardian for children (what to consider, how to choose someone) she is excellent. She was easy to work with and very accessible (on Shattuck). I would describe her style as low-key. I highly recommend her. The other person I worked with was Margaret Hill (on College) regarding a child support issue. She is also very easy to work with and competent. It can be difficult to reach her by phone, but she does eventually return calls.
Linnea
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