Law and Mediation Offices

Photo - J. Randolph Wallace

J. Randolph Wallace

Courthouse Square
1000 Fourth Street
Suite 580
San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel 415.456.8400
Fax 415.456.8484

Practice Areas

Photo - Mountains & Lake

Over the years a lawyer's practice areas provide the terrain to develop, refine and hone problem solving skills. The more you do it the better you get. And the better you get the better your judgment becomes to analyze these problems. It takes judgment to know what you know and what you do not know, to know what questions to ask and not ask and to know what information to utilize and what to disregard.

...Good judgment is what sets lawyers apart from each other.

  • Trust and Estate Litigation

    Family members often argue how a trust or estate should be divided regardless of the documents. Fiduciaries, those professionals who manage trust and estates can clash with what family members want to do. And then there is the grief from a loved one's death. Determining the distribution of family assets is not only about property, but it is about all the baggage attached to what goes into functioning as a family, past, present and future. An experienced lawyer must understand all sides to represent the parties in these disputes.

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  • Elder Abuse

    When people over the age of sixty five are taken advantage of physically and financially, this is so wrong. A nursing home, a neighbor or new found best friend, a care taker, someone who takes on an importance that does not seem to make sense creates a feeling of not knowing what to do. Seeing people you care about fall victim to these events creates a feeling of helplessness and lack of control. It is not a good place to be when trying to determine what to do. A good lawyer must know how to redress these wrongs to our older citizens and address the issues of those who care about them.

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  • Real Estate Issues

    Real property by its nature is land. Whether it's your land or your neighbors or belonging to a public entity, it is the same. When land subsides, slips, give way due to rain, diversion of water, failure to properly compact fill or even when washed away by creeks over flowing their banks and the watershed not doing its job…

    These are problems that are devastating both financially and emotionally... What happens to your home? Where do live? Does your insurance cover these losses, does your neighbors or the public entity involved? These questions and more require answers, but more importantly, they require a plan to solve not only these problems, but the ones that will emerge. A client needs a lawyer who will know how to address what has happened to your land and how will it be repaired.

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  • Neighbor/Tree/Boundary Line/ Views/Easement Disputes

    Neighbor disputes take many forms, moving a fence, a driveway, barking dogs, fear of physical safety, stress over not knowing what your neighbor will do next or how the dispute will escalate, arguing over access, claiming a right to an easement on your neighbor's property and learning the neighbors claims one on yours. And there are more...

    Trees are beautiful but they can be dangerous. They add intrinsic as well as extrinsic value to your property. What happens when neighbors want to cut the limbs hanging over on their property, or wants the trees removed because of a fire hazard, of posing a danger from toppling in the wind or interfering with a view?

    Views of the water, the mountains and hills or open space are reasons that people purchase a home. Some developments have provisions in their deeds that views are protected, but most do not. So when a neighbor or property owner wants to improve their home, develop their land and the improvement interferes with your view, what do you do?

    Boundary lines are often invisible because the trees or a fence that you thought defined the borders are not in the right place or a sewer line is buried out of sight goes across a boundary line. So now they have to be moved, even after thirty years of living in your home. At the same time you paid top dollar for your property and why should you not have access to all of it?

    An Easement a right to use another's land or use your land for a specific purpose. Examples are roadways, sewer lines, fences, landscaping, utilities to name a few. Often they are recorded in your deed. Sometimes landowners assume they have an easement because the use was there when they purchased the property or the use existed for a long period of time. Problems arise when landowners dispute the use.

    Each of these problems is different, but there is one constant, they make your home not a place of peace and enjoyment, but like a prison. It whipsaws people between anger and wanting to make peace, but not knowing what is the best course of action filing suit, seeking mediation, or just feeling lost and out of control. At face value there does not seem to be a solution to these problems because of the diametrically opposed positions. Good lawyers help their clients find solutions to seemingly solution-less problems because of judgment.

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  • Quiet Title and Partition Actions

    Quiet title and partition are legal terms of art involving dividing up a disputed property when several parties claim ownership. Often resolution can take the form of selling the property to a joint owner, selling it to a third party and dividing the proceeds or dividing the property into pieces if possible and apportioning those pieces among the disputing parties. That long sentence makes the process sound simple, but far from it. Generally there is no agreement regarding percentage for each party, how expenses will be apportioned, how payment for mortgages improvements, property taxes and insurance are reimbursed or taken into account when determining the shares of the claimants. The process requires a balancing act weighing the emotional interests in the property with the financial contributions. But more importantly it requires good judgment to determine what is fair.

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  • Buying/Selling a Home

    Homeownership is only a dream for some, the single largest investment for others and for the few it can be one of several homes. But to all it is an investment that involves trusting that the promises made by people buying or selling a home can be relied upon and will be lived up to. Clients need lawyers who understand that trust involves more than money, but how a violation of trust fits into solving the issues of an undisclosed problem. Clients need a lawyer with a good compass to decide what direction the case will take.

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  • Public/Government Entities

    Cities, counties, or public agencies can require you to abide by their rules to secure approval for construction of improvements, remodeling your home, using your land in a way you think enhance the quality of life, but they do not. Often it is necessary to deal with these entities involving your neighbors, staff conferences and even public meetings to secure approval. Knowing who to have speak on your behalf, what to say and what needs to be done in advance are the keys to stewarding a client through this process. Done incorrectly will insure denial. Done correctly will maximize your chances to approval. Clients deserve this advantage of doing the process right.

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  • Personal Injury

    Automobile, motorcycle, truck, cycling accidents, slipping and falling on another's property, being assaulted, dog bites, catastrophic injures, injured on your job by some third party, all of these incidents are life altering, both in their immediate effect as well as the future ramifications. Liability, damages, insurance coverage, trial, mediation, settlement with insurance adjustors, medical liens, all of these issues are mines in a field for the unwary and the unknowledgeable.

    Successful representation comes from knowing how to navigate these mine fields, but of equal importance is a lawyer who has requisite experience to know what he or she does not know. A good lawyer knows how to protect his clients interests by handling the known problems, as well as, addressing the unknown problems before the explosion.

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  • Contractor Disputes

    The expression is Do it once, do it right, hire a licensed contractor. But hiring a licensed contractor does not mean there will be no problems.

    What happens when a project's cost has escalated substantially more than what you contracted for, or the job is not getting done on time, or the way the job is getting done does match the plans, specifications and design. So you stop paying. Liens are put on your house, Communication breaks down. The work stops. You are threatened with a lawsuit while your house is open to the elements; half completed, covered with plastic and is a mess. Your dreams of making your home more livable and beautiful have become a nightmare.

    Any of this sound familiar? And if it does, what's next? What's next is finding a lawyer who knows how to do the nuts and bolts, nails and 2 x 4's of construction, as well as one who knows the law, who knows the process to get the construction it back on track, and who knows the procedures to address these problems. It is not easy. It takes time. It can be expensive, but when it's done right, by a good lawyer who knows how to do it because of judgment, it will only be done once.

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  • Construction Defects

    These are two words that no home owner wants to hear. They are generally accompanied by large dollar amounts to repair, a loss of use of your home, insurance coverage issues for the owner, the contractors, sub contractors and developers, attorney’s and expert fees. If that is not enough there are the different parties, each pointing at the other for who did what incorrectly. Of course, there are the experts, the court and special master supervision, and an endless interference with your home life.

    Whether these defects are water infiltration, soil and foundation problems or structural deficiencies, the property owner not only has to be patient and polite to the people who inspect your home, but spend money to correct problems that you thought would never occur to you. The thought will cross a client’s mind why can’t these individuals acknowledge their mistakes and missteps and accept responsibility instead of having the client go through this dance.

    Successful representation in construction defects claims involve knowing the dance, the music, the steps and how one must deal with the number of "partners" during the claim. Clients deserve a lawyer who knows how to be a good partner and take the lead so as to insure not to make any missteps.

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  • Business/Law/Professional Partnerships

    Partnerships can be like fragile marriages. Usually they are based on trust, grounded on friendship, surrounded by money, fun and the power of doing business together.

    What if you discover that money is missing, what if your customers or clients you thought were secret are purchasing products or services from a new business, what if an employee is claiming that your partner did something that is inappropriate creating a hostile working environment? All these events can result in your friend or relative or partner can no longer be your partner.

    So what do you do? You hire a lawyer who both knows and understands the problems a client faces, but more important who knows how to fashion solution for those problems.

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