Monday, June 22, 2015

Things for East Coast Lawyers to remember when working with a Northern California family law attorney

Here in Northern California we family law lawyers like to think of ourselves as more civilized. We love what we do, we do it well, and we do it passionately. You can say the same thing about the myriad traits that define the Nor Cal way of life.

Chris McGinnis over at the Travel Skills Diary published an article recently about eight mistakes business travelers need to avoid making when coming to San Francisco. Chris's observations are easily tweaked to assist lawyers from beyond California when working with a Northern California family law lawyer on a case, or when traveling to Northern California for a case:

1.  We close early on Friday afternoons.  After 2 p.m. on Fridays, when you Easterners close for the weekend at 5 pm, so too do many of us in the Northern California family law bar.  Especially when it’s warm and sunny outside, , wine, cocktail, and beer carts start making the rounds, golf balls are teed up, mountain bikes start rolling, cars start heading for the mountains.  While there are exceptions to this rule, your Nor Cal colleagues are likely to groan if you send out a calendar invite for a 4 p.m. meeting on Friday. Make it at 11 a.m. instead. Better still schedule it on Thursday.

2.  Northern Californians get started early.  As Chris notes, "Don’t be surprised about an early morning start. An 8:30 a.m. meeting is not considered out of order. . . Lunch hour begins promptly at noon, but you will find that locals that head out at 11:30 a.m. or 11:45 a.m. “to beat the crowds.” Expect the same early schedule for dinner meetings, which can and do start as early at 6 p.m. Most restaurants are empty by 9:30 on weekdays and by 10:30 p.m. on weekends." Some courts even get going at 8 a.m.

3.  More good advice from Chris:  "Don’t always rely on taxicabs. The Bay Area is Uber’s home, and it is everywhere in Nor Cal, so download the app and use it if you haven’t already done so and enjoy all the different “flavors” of Uber available, which include the standard town car UberBLACK, private car “citizen driver” UberX (cheaper than taxis), UberSUV, UberXL, and the new UberPOOL where you share a ride with someone else headed in the same direction. Cabs are fine when available, but the industry has been decimated by the likes of Uber and Lyft and their business is down by 65%. The Bay Area is a huge, sprawling place with court houses and downtowns all around.  Public transit does not cover all the stops, and some cities with their own courthouses don't have cab companies. Uber is everywhere.  Make sure you need to rent a car before you rent a car. Northern California airport rental rates are notoriously high, the car rental center are not admired, and downtown hotel parking rates are in the $60 per night range."

4.  We don't got no stinking subway. BART is the regional rapid rail system.  It's like a subway and like a Metro, but not as convenient and pervasive, and a hell of a lot more expensive.  It gets you to the big spots on the map, but still misses most of the Bay Area footprint. Your gonna need to put boots on the ground or rubber wheels on the road to get you to your ultimate destination.  That gets us back to Uber and Lyft.

5.  Don’t forget your layers. We have micro climates in Nor Cal.  It can be foggy, wet, and cold at the coast but sweltering hot and bone dry 15 miles away as the crow flies.  Bring a jacket and prepare to shed it as you move inland.  

6.  Our Courts are Not all in San Francisco.  Northern California is about the same size size as New York and Pennsylvania combined, with Ohio thrown in for good measure. Come join me and about 15 million of my closest friends. Northern California has nine counties that touch the water of the San Francisco Bay, and comprise the metropolitan area commonly referred to as the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, or The Bay. Those counties — San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin – are home to more than 7.1 million people. More than 1 million of those people live in Contra Costa County, more than 1.5 million of those people live in Alameda County, and almost 1.85 million of those people live in Santa Clara County.  Just up the road about an hour from The Bay is the State Capital of Sacramento, and its own metro region with about two million people and half a dozen counties. Each California county has its own Superior Court, and each of those Superior Courts has its own different branches, courthouses, and local rules. In fact, two or three different courthouses spread around each county hearing family law cases is the norm.  The simplicity of one courthouse per county does not apply here.

7. WE ARE NOT L.A.  Los Angeles is 400 miles away from the Bay Area and metro Northern
California (almost as far as Cincinnati and New York). They do things different down there. We like our brothers and sisters in SoCal, but they have their own world.

8.  Think Wine not Whine.  Hardball ain't our style. Our wine-ing comes from a bottle.  With liquid gold being made in Napa, Sonoma, the Livermore Valley, the Foothills, the Mendocina Coast, and the Central Coast of Monterey County and Paso Robles we tend to take the edge off of family law. With eight ABA law schools (Stanford, Berkeley, Hastings, Santa Clara, University of San Francisco, Golden Gate, UC Davis, and University of Pacific, McGeorge) we've got plenty of smart folks taking the oath and doing the law thing, we just don't need to be obnoxious about it. Even our Ivy Leaguers are laid back.

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1 comment:

Emily Smith said...

John, this is good information to have if one ever travels to California for business. Closing early on Friday's sounds awesome! My Uncle has been working as lawyer for a while now. I wonder if he has ever done business in California.

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