"800-pound gorilla" is an American English expression applied to a person or organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the rights of others or the law. When the question is posed as to whether there are "800-pound gorillas" in California Estate, Trust and Probate litigation, there are some interesting if nuanced answers.
Experience: Some of California's most experienced estate, trust and probate litigation attorneys are those attorneys who commonly represent non-family member professional fiduciaries, including conservators, guardians, trustees, and agents under durable power of attorney as defined by the Professional Fiduciaries Act. These lawyers regularly appear in probate court and are generally very knowledgeable in the California Probate Code. It is our experience that these lawyers' primary litigation focus is in the probate courts - not the civil courts.
Geography: There are 58 trial courts in California, one in each county. It stands to reason, and is true, that small counties have a smaller number of attorneys who practice probate law who have great familiarity with the local court and judge. Out-of-county lawyers' first appearance in a small county probate court may feel like going to a family reunion when you are the only person there who is not a relative.
Urban Counties: The 2015 Court Statistics Report presents statistics that underline the fact that California's urban counties have the highest annual number of Probate and Mental Health Court Trials: Los Angeles (14,290); Sacramento (1,426); San Diego (1,586); and San Francisco (2,897). Hackard Law currently has estate, trust and probate litigation matters in each of the referenced Superior Courts, and we can reliably report that we've never seen any 800-pound gorillas.
The Hackard Law Approach: Many prospective clients tell us that their wrongdoing relative then controlling estate or trust assets warns the wronged heir or beneficiary that he or she will never be able to get as good an attorney as the wrongdoer has. Such braggadocio relies on the frequently wrong assumption that the victim is without resources and will never be able to hire an experienced and knowledgeable trust litigator. Given the fact that Hackard Law represents a large number of clients on a contingency fee basis, a wrongdoer's belief that he holds all the cards can soon be disabused. Our time in practice, coupled with experience in the various urban courts of California, gives us a perspective that is unique among estate, trust and probate litigators.
If you have a probate, estate or trust dispute in one of California's major urban areas and are seeking the assistance of counsel experienced in representing aggrieved heirs and abused beneficiaries, call us at Hackard Law: 916-313-3030. We'll be happy to speak with you.