Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation lawyer selected to Bakersfield ’20 Under 40 People to Watch’

July 5, 2018 | 7:19 am


Bakersfield Life Magazine’s “20 Under 40 People to Watch” highlights outstanding young men and  women whom Bakersfield can be proud of, who possess a hard work ethic, dedication, and a passion for volunteering.

“Their success is only rivaled by their commitment to giving back, making our community better for current and future generations,” according to Bakersfield Life.

For 2018, the magazine selected Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation lawyer Beatriz Trejo as one of its “20 Under 40 People to Watch” for her success in her profession, and meaningful contributions to our local community. She and 19 others were highlighted in the July issue of the magazine.

Trejo’s inclusion on the list now makes four people at the law firm who have been selected for this honor:

This year’s “20 Under 40 People to Watch” honorees were recognized during a reception. In receiving her award, Beatriz was described by Bakersfield Life editor Mark Nessia as “someone who has achieved tremendous success in her career, and who has become a leader in the community. She continues to achieve in her job, advocating for those in times of need and her commitment to providing goodwill for her own town that will never end. She has experienced success through many hardships, which she has taken to use as a venue to give back and achieve.”

In particular, Trejo is involved in several local organizations on a volunteer basis including CBCC Foundation, Latina Leaders of Kern County, CSUB Pre-Law Advisory Committee, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation’ Small Business Academy, Kern County Cancer Run committee, and Immigration Justice Collaborative.

She is the Bakersfield Chapter President for the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), a statewide organization advocating for injured workers. Trejo is also is the board member on the CAAA Legislative Caucus Board Member, advocating at the state government level. Last year, she was selected as the 2017 winner of the “Young Workers’ Compensation Lawyer of the Year” by the State Bar Workers’ Compensation Section.

The following profile on Trejo was published in Bakersfield Life Magazine.

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If it were easy, everyone would do it.

That’s the mentality Beatriz Trejo takes with her in all aspects of her life as she looks for ways to challenge herself every step of the way.

That’s why she enjoys CrossFit. That’s why she went to law school, despite working a job she enjoyed at CSU Northridge, where she earned her master’s in political science.

Trejo attended law school at the University of Akron in Ohio and moved back to Bakersfield the day after graduation in 2011, starting her career as a workers’ compensation defense attorney for Hanna Brophy.

Despite working hard for her clients, Trejo felt her personality was better-suited toward protecting and advocating for injured workers rather than their employers. In 2015, she joined Chain Cohn Stiles as an associate attorney representing injured workers in workers’ compensation claims.

“An injury goes beyond a person,” she said. “It affects their entire family, and I don’t take that lightly.”

Trejo is driven by the fact that she has been on the other side and knows the benefits that can be negated to injured workers, so she strives not only to serve her clients to the best of her ability, but to educate other attorneys so they, too, can do the same.

“As far as what is motivating me, I think there is a true, true desire to help my clients and the community,” she said.

Trejo is involved with numerous local organizations, most notably, being a member of the planning committee for Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center’s Kern County Cancer Run/Walk, a cause that’s near and dear to her heart because her dad passed away from cancer in 2016 and her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer six months later.

“I’ve been a family member of someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer and I know how it feels and I know how much support is needed to get through something like that,” she said. “I very much understand that situation and feel like it’s happened to me and now it’s my turn to give back.”

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ attorney James Yoro highlights life of a paralegal in Kern County Bar Association’s magazine

December 13, 2017 | 9:45 am


The following “President’s Message” was published in the December 2017 issue of the Res Ipsa Loquitur, a monthly news magazine from the Kern County Bar Association. It was written by Kern County Bar Association president James Yoro, who is also a partner and workers’ compensation attorney at the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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‘With a little help from my friends’

Most lawyers would like to believe that the primary reason for the success they’ve achieved in their practice is due to their own hard work and effort. However, when asked for a realistic assessment of their situation, most lawyers will admit that a crucial part of their success depends on their support staff. Depending on the type of practice one has, a paralegal/legal assistant may play a vital role in that success. In my own practice, I depend on my legal assistant Lesleigh Johnston, to perform many essential functions that contribute to the successful outcome of my cases. In fact, I consider her to be an indispensable member of my firm, who is as valuable as the associate attorney who also works with me. Therefore, I would like to give special recognition to all of those hard-working paralegals and legal assistants that make our jobs easier by devoting my message this month to them.

There are many ways that one can become a paralegal. Depending on one’s background, training and education, a paralegal may be able to handle many aspects of the legal process or the workup of the file. For example, my legal assistant was previously employed for more than 10 years as an insurance adjuster with a major workers compensation insurance carrier before she came to work for me. Because of this experience, she was well-equipped to evaluate cases and understood the nuances of how a workers compensation file should be handled from beginning to end.

Since building an effective legal team is important in order to serve the best interests of the clients and achieve success in one’s practice, what should one look for when hiring a paralegal?  I asked this and several other questions to two of the paralegals in our firm, Barbara Hass and Donna Wilkins, and here were their answers:

 

What background, education, and/or training did you have in order to become a paralegal?

Barbara Hass:

Background: 37 years in the legal field.  I began my career as a legal secretary in 1980.  In 1985 I became a civil defense paralegal for Art Pearl and then Larry Peake.  In 1995, I began working for David Cohn as a personal injury paralegal and supervisor of his PI practice.  I also taught Personal Injury Law at CSUB – Attorney Assistant Program in the evenings for many years and wrote the text book for the class utilized by CSUB.

Education: Completion of the Attorney Assistant Program at California State University, Bakersfield.  Examination through the National Association of Legal Assistants for my certification as a California Advanced Specialist in Civil Litigation; Advanced Paralegal certifications in Trial Practices, Discovery, Wrongful Death, and Personal Injury.

Training: Under the supervision and training from the best attorneys.  Art Pearl and Larry Peake hammered in me civil procedure, while David Cohn and Matt Clark fine-tuned the art of personal injury and case management.

Comment: Education cannot replace experience.  Education is the stepping stone.  Experience is the mountain top.  All the education in the world cannot teach a paralegal how to navigate through the day-to-day encounters of an area of law.  Only experience gives you that.  That is why it is a combination of education and experience that makes for an outstanding paralegal.”

Donna Wilkins:

My background is not your typical educational background that you will find of most paralegals today.  There were no schools specializing in paralegal studies when I first started in the legal industry in 1979 when I was 19 years old; the only specialized education I could find to help assist me in advancement was a correspondence course, which I did take and complete.

My background is solely from experience. I started as a receptionist in 1979 for a small firm in San Francisco.  From the day I sat at the desk, I knew I had found my calling.  I did everything I could to learn as much as I could and kept asking questions and requesting more responsibility.  I absorbed everything I could and advanced to legal secretary in less than a year.  I moved firms about 3 times in 5 years in order to obtain knowledge in the areas of personal injury, construction defect, probate, family law and insurance defense.  Later in my career I worked in the areas of criminal law, corporate law, and civil and criminal appellate law.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and was very fortunate to find employment with attorneys and firms that encouraged my advancement and shared their knowledge with me – even allowing me to sit in on depositions, court hearings, oral argument in appellate court and civil trials.   Next year I will have 40 years in the legal field, over 25 of them as a paralegal and I have never looked back – only forward to the next challenge as a paralegal.”

 

What skills are necessary in order to be a quality paralegal?

Barbara Hass:

“At a minimum, all paralegals are required to be in compliance with Business and Professions Code Section 6450 – 6456.  In addition, it is very important for paralegals to possess excellent writing and research skills, understand the rules, procedures and mechanics that apply to their area of practice; stay up-to-date on the changing rules and procedures; possess exceptional technical skills; and possess excellent analytical and case management skills.  However, having all of these “skills” doesn’t make a great paralegal.  To be a great paralegal you must also possess the qualities of a great employee:  loyalty, work ethic, detail oriented, dedication to your craft, tenacity, and a thick skin.”

Donna Wilkins:

“In addition to skill, I believe it is absolutely imperative to have an affinity and love for what you do.  Knowledge and skills are one thing, but if you do not love what you do, you won’t be as successful as you could be.  The most important skill I believe is the ability to prioritize.  With all the work that lands on my desk, I must be able to determine what must be done now and what can wait.  A system of following up on projects is also imperative.  Organization is crucial, as you can’t get things done if you do not have a system in place to make sure that nothing is missed.  You must be able to communicate, both verbally and in writing, with the attorneys and staff, but also with clients and the courts.   Maintaining knowledge of current case law and statutes which pertain to your area of practice is also necessary.”

 

What do you do to assist the attorney you work for?

Barbara Hass:

“Development and case management from the date of intake to completion; legal research; discovery; trial preparation; Federal case management; fact gathering and retrieving information; drafting and analyzing legal documents; collecting, compiling, and utilizing technical information to make an independent analysis to the supervising attorney.”

Donna Wilkins:

“You cannot list in detail in a few short paragraphs all of the responsibilities of a paralegal.  However, I can provide the following brief description:  I manage the case files to make sure all necessary information is obtained from the clients, that the medical records and bills are obtained so that a case can move forward either to settlement or litigation.  I draft demand letters and follow-up on settlement demands and offers.

Once a case is ready to be filed with the Court, I prepare the complaint for the attorney’s review and filing with the court.  I maintain the docketing calendar so that all dates pertaining to litigation are calendared and reminders are up to date.  I prepare initial discovery and meet with clients to obtain information on discovery propounded to them, and then prepare the draft responses for the attorney’s review.  I perform the initial review of defendant’s responses to discovery and prepare a summary for the attorneys and suggest additional discovery to be propounded and which depositions should be set.  I prepare Case Management Statements for the attorney’s review and filing with the Court.  I contact expert witnesses and make sure they have the documents they need to provide their opinions.

Once a trial date is set, I manage all related dates and make sure that all pre-trial discovery is completed, depositions taken, etc.  I prepare a draft of the pre-trial documents, including expert designations, trial witness and exhibit lists, etc. I subpoena witnesses and arrange for expert testimony.  I then prepare the exhibits themselves for submission to the Court and opposing counsel to be used at trial.”

Paralegals do more than help lawyers to prepare their cases, conduct relevant research and draft legal documents for litigation; they help to manage the clients throughout a long and sometimes frustrating process and as such are an essential element of an attorney’s legal team. To all of you out there who currently employ paralegals/legal assistants, take a moment to applaud and recognize their efforts as your success depends on it.

 

If you would like to comment or respond to my message, please e-mail me at jyoro@chainlaw.com.

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If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact the experienced legal team at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark named Super Lawyers Rising Star for third straight year

June 17, 2015 | 9:38 am


Matt Clark, attorney and senior partner at the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has been named a 2015 Southern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine for the third straight year.

The Rising Star title is awarded to just 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations, according to Super Lawyers. The magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. The list is also published as a special section in leading city and regional magazine across the country. In the United States, the magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.

Clark is a senior partner at the Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm, concentrating his practice in the areas of personal injury, wrongful death and industrial accidents.

Over the course of his career, Clark has obtained numerous multi-million dollar results on behalf of his clients, including a $10 million settlement in 2011 on behalf of a man who suffered serious burn injuries in an oilfield accident, and a $8.8 million settlement in 2014 on behalf of the family of a man who was struck and killed by a Sheriff’s deputy patrol car while he crossed the street.

Clark has also been part of several successful trial verdicts including the following a $333,000 verdict in 2011 on behalf of a motorcyclist who was injured when a Kern County employee driving a truck crashed into him at a downtown Bakersfield intersection, and a $261,000 verdict in 2012 on behalf of a client who was injured when he fell into a dumpster at a local landfill.

Currently, Clark is involved in several high-profile cases including a wrongful death claim brought by the family of Nancy Joyce Garrett, who was struck and killed by a Kern County Sheriff’s patrol car while she drove home.

Clark’s clients say he is professional, caring, and a wonderful communicator. To see several testimonials from real clients who worked with Clark, click here.

Clark has recently received other prestigious awards:

  • He was recently named one of the “20 Under 40 People to Watch” in Kern County by Bakersfield Life Magazine. According to the magazine, the 20 chosen are “shining stars who are doing brilliant things for the city they call home … Each leader is making their mark in a different way; some own their own businesses while others have put in time and love to causes dear to their heart.”
  • He was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers. Membership into The National Trial Lawyers’ Top 40 under 40 is by invitation only, and is extended exclusively to those individuals who meet stringent qualifications and specialize in the legal practice of criminal defense or civil plaintiff, according to The National Trial Lawyers program.

Clark, a Garces Memorial High graduate, earned an undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University and a law degree at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

Currently, Matt serves as President of the Board of Directors for Clinica Sierra Vista, and also serves on the Board of Directors for the San Joaquin Community Hospital Foundation. He sits on the planning committee for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County’s annual event, Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash.

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Media:

‘Walk/Run Like MADD’ article, ad featured in new Bakersfield Life magazine

September 2, 2014 | 9:44 am


UPDATE: Several local media outlets have also made mention of the upcoming Walk/Run Like MADD. See the coverage below.

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The September issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine was unveiled on Saturday, and included in the Saturday edition of The Bakersfield Californian. The magazine featured an advertisement for the upcoming Walk Like MADD — sponsored by the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, and also included an article on the significance of Bakersfield’s first-ever 5K MADD walk and run.

The article and ad’s messages were even more important following this tragic weekend’s DUI-related crash. Read more about the fatal crash below.

The “Walk/Run Like MADD” 5K is being brought to Bakersfield by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kern County on Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Park at River Walk. It’s aimed to raise awareness of drinking and driving crashes in Kern County, to raise money to support local victims and their families, and to fight to end drinking and driving in Bakersfield.

Currently, more than 175 participants have raised $22,600 for the walk. and run. The event is also sponsored by various community partners. They are Dignity Health, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Bakersfield Police Officers Association, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Ira Cohn of USB Financial, Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center, Kern County Bar Association and Aum Physical Therapy.

There is still time to sign up to participate, donate, volunteer or sponsor in the Walk/Run Like MADD. For more information, go to Bakersfield’s MADD website here.

Tragic weekend

The MADD ad, article and messages in the magazine were featured during a tragic weekend involving yet another fatal crash in Kern County involving alcohol.

Two people were killed in a fiery crash early Saturday morning when a suspected drunken driver slammed into the back of their car on Rosedale Highway, according to media reports. A third person was pulled from the burning car by passersby near the scene of the crash. That person suffered serious burn injuries and was taken to a hospital, media reported. The suspected drunken driver, 29-year-old Dontrell Collins, was booked on suspicion of felony drunken driving resulting in injury or death and vehicular manslaughter, police reported.

Collins, in a jailhouse interview with KERO Channel-23, said he didn’t remember anything from the night. Family members decried Collins for drinking and driving. Read the various media coverage of the incident below:

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Below is media coverage regarding the upcoming MADD event:

  • Grieving families, advocates plead for end to drunken driving (KBAK-KBFX, 29-58, BakersfieldNow.com)
  • Bakersfield Life Magazine featured an article about the walk and shared the stories of families of victims of drunken driving crashes. You can read the article here.
  • Kern County Deputy District Attorney David Wolf and Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos — both part of the MADD walk planning committee — joined Sheri Ortiz on The Groove, 99.3, KKBB. Listen to the spot here.
  • KERO Channel 23 is currently running promos of the event.
  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark and Kern County Deputy District Attorney Brandon Stallings appeared on the live stream show First Look with Scott Cox to discuss the problem of drinking and driving in Bakersfield, and encourage local residents to join in on the MADD walk. Watch the video here.
  • Eyewitness News (KBAK and KBFX, Channels 29 and 58) recently ran a story on the event following a DUI-related fatal Labor Day crash. The spot featured Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kern County victim advocate Carla Pearson. You can watch that here.
  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos — who is part of the planning committee for the Walk/Run Like MADD — spoke with KGET Channel 17 Friday morning, Sept. 12.

CCS senior partner Matt Clark chosen by Bakersfield Life magazine as one of ’20 Under 40 People to Watch’

June 30, 2014 | 9:25 am


Bakersfield personal injury lawyer Matthew C. Clark has been chosen as one of the “20 Under 40 People to Watch” by Bakersfield Life Magazine for 2014.

Clark was featured in the 20 Under 40 feature in the local monthly lifestyle magazine released Saturday, June 28, in The Bakersfield Californian. It was the second annual 20 Under 40 feature, where about 100 up and coming local young professionals between 18 and 39 years old were nominated.

“It was difficult to choose, but in the end, Bakersfield Life’s selection committee could only honor 20 of these shining stars who are doing brilliant things for the city they call home,” according to the magazine. “Each leader is making their mark in a different way; some own their own businesses while others have put in time and love to causes dear to their heart.”

Clark was honored with 19 other local honorees during a recognition ceremony on Friday, June 27 at The Mark Restaurant, the day before the magazine was released.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this group. It makes me proud to live here,” Clark said after receiving a plaque and several certificates from local dignitaries and elected officials. “I moved back here after school … And being around all of you reminds me of why I moved.”

The magazine highlighted Clark’s community service, inspirations and secret talents, among other things. It read as follows:

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Matthew C. Clark

Attorney/senior partner with Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Age: 38

Community involvement: Clinica Sierra Vista board, San Joaquin Community Hospital Foundation board, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Miracle Society member, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Walk in Kern County volunteer and board member.

Professional in your field who inspires you: Although this may sound contrived, I am honestly inspired by my law partners, Dave Cohn, Dave Stiles and Jim Yoro. My successes are a result of their mentoring and encouragement.

Secret talent: Since helping my in-laws build a pizza oven in their backyard, I’ve become a pretty decent pizza chef. Also, it’s been said that I have an “intimidating head of hair,” at least according to Scott Cox.

How do you hope to make a difference in Bakersfield? I grew up in Bakersfield, moved away for school and then returned. I’ve been back for about 13 years now. During this time, I have worked with clients of every imaginable background and one thing is universal to all of them — the need for quality, local medical care. Through my volunteer activities and affiliations, I have tried to commit my time toward this goal and will continue to do so in the future.

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You can read the online version of the feature and view more pictures at bakersfieldlife.com. You can also read the magazine version online here, or read the entire magazine online here. And you can pick up a copy at The Bakersfield Californian.

CCS senior partner Matt Clark named a 2014 Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine

June 6, 2014 | 6:19 am


Matthew C. Clark, senior partner with the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has been named a 2014 Southern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine, the awards program announced today.

This is Clark’s second year in a row earning this honor, which is bestowed upon only 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in our region.

He joins in his law partner David K. Cohn, managing partner with the Kern County-based law firm, in being recognized by Super Lawyers magazine. Cohn earlier this year was selected to the 2014 “Super Lawyers” for the third consecutive year. No more than 5 percent of lawyers in the region are selected, based on a high-degree of peer recognition and personal achievement.

Rising Star Clark concentrates his practice in the areas of personal injury, wrongful death and product liability. He earned an undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University and a law degree at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He recently graduated from the ABOTA National Trial College at Harvard Law School.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations, according to Super Lawyers.

The magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. The list is also published as a special section in leading city and regional magazine across the country. In the United States, the magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.

This latest accolade add to the list of awards for Chain | Cohn | Stiles in 2014. Besides the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars awards, CCS has also awarded a “Certificate of Appreciation” from Mayor Harvey Hall and City of Bakersfield during a city council meeting for the law firm’s partnership in the “Freeway Litter Cleanup Project.”

And in May, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was voted “Best Law Firm,” and David K. Cohn was chosen as a “favorite” in the “Best Lawyer” category. It was the second year in a row that the law firm was honored in these two categories. The “best law firm” and “best lawyer” categories were added to The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers’ Choice Poll two years ago.