A to Z Law Welcomes New Associate Elana D. Cuzzo

We are welcoming another new associate attorney, Elana D. Cuzzo of Thousand Oaks, who joined A to Z Law in November, focusing her practice on probate law and estate planning.

Cuzzo has previous legal experience developing comprehensive estate plans for individuals, couples, families, and businesses to protect clients’ wealth and promote their legacy. She also has advised and represented companies with a broad range of business-related services, including entity formation, contracts, real estate, and a variety of other transactional issues.

In addition, Cuzzo is an experienced business attorney who has represented leading financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies in business litigation and bankruptcy matters. Cuzzo has worked in all aspects of litigation, including trial preparation, factual investigation, discovery, motion practice, depositions, mediation and settlement negotiations.

Cuzzo previously served as a law clerk for Judge Thomas B. Donovan of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District and drafted the opinion for Donovan’s groundbreaking decision that declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Cuzzo is a member of the Oxnard Rotary Club, Women Lawyers of Ventura County, the Barristers section of the Ventura County Bar Association, and the Inns of Court. She earned her law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California. Cuzzo was recognized with the “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty” award for her work helping USC professors recruit and train USC students to mentor in schools, battered women’s shelters and foster care programs. She is fluent in Russian.

A to Z Law Welcomes New Associate Rob Congelliere

Attorney Robert M. Congelliere, who has an affinity for real estate, business and technology-related matters, has joined A to Z Law this fall as a new associate.

Throughout his career, Robert has assisted clients in every facet of the real estate transaction, the technology business transaction and in litigation. Having stepped through the doors of boutique and nationally recognized law firms as well as working as an assistant general counsel to a large national automotive software company, he understands and can empathize with the legal needs of businesses and individuals in a range of circumstances. As an entrepreneur, he previously ran his own boutique law firm in Ventura and Los Angeles counties where he built a business in real estate, commercial business and technology transactions.

Rob handled real property purchase and sale transactions, leases, partnership dissolutions, construction litigation, technology integration transactions, commercial technology purchases and sales, bankruptcy, general litigation, landlord-tenant, and he has assisted in reforming internal company legal processes as an in-house attorney. He has been admitted to practice law in California, New York and Utah.

Congelliere earned his Juris Doctor in 2009 from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in Utah and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Brigham Young University on a university athletic scholarship. While at BYU, Congelliere won two national championships with the volleyball team.

A graduate of Newbury Park High School, Congelliere is a dedicated family man and enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two children. He also enjoys surfing, playing beach volleyball, swimming, fishing, spearfishing, boating or anything to do with the beach, ocean and Hawaii.

Robert N. Kwong A Speaker at Nov. 6 CEQA Training Workshop

A to Z Law attorney Robert N. Kwong will be among the speakers at a training workshop hosted by the Association of Environmental Professionals called, “2017 CEQA Essentials: An Introduction & Intermediate Level Training Workshop.” Robert specializes in federal, state and local environmental law and has over 25 years of experience advising and representing public and private entities on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) issues and compliance.

The event takes place in Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors hearing room, fourth floor, 105 E. Anapamu St., on Monday, Nov. 6, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

This workshop provides attendees with a basic understanding of the fundamentals of CEQA and the state guidelines, and it includes intermediate-level practice pointers and case studies. The curriculum is developed specifically for people involved in the environmental review process, including consultants, regulators, applicants or industry professionals, and it will benefit those new to the field as well as mid-level practicing professionals.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Understanding the statute and guidelines
  • Responsibilities: Lead, Responsible, Trustee agencies and the role of the Consultant
  • Determining the appropriate document – Exemptions, Negative Declarations, EIRs
  • Adequacy of analysis and mitigation
  • Findings
  • Notices

Registration is open and includes all workshop materials, a continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Register online at www.califaep.org.

A to Z Law Partner Kendall A. VanConas to Participate in Panel on Estate Planning in Santa Barbara July 25-26

A to Z Law partner Kendall A. VanConas will participate as a panel member in a seminar for the National Business Institute on July 25 and 26, 2017 entitled, “Estate Planning with A to Z.” The two-day seminar will be held at the Canary Hotel, 31 West Carrillo Street, in Santa Barbara, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. each day.

The seminar is designed for estate planning professionals, and will cover topics to take clients from intake through administration. Panel members will present on ethics, disability planning, tax matters and planning for same-sex couples, among other things. VanConas will provide participants with an overview about trusts, with a concentration on revocable living trusts.

VanConas is a Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law, as certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, and holds a Master of Science in Taxation. She has been practicing law in Ventura County for 25 years.

To register, call 1-800-930-6182 or visit www.nbi-sems.com.

A to Z Welcomes a New Associate: Alexander (Alec) C. Yarbrough

Esteemed business attorney Alec Yarbrough has joined A to Z Law. Arriving in June 2017, Alec brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in business law, including entity formation, administration and conversion, buy-sell agreements, assignments and redemption agreements as well as tax and estate planning law. Alec also assists clients with their estate planning needs and has experience with international tax and wealth planning.

Alec earned his Juris Doctor and his Master of Laws in estate planning from the University of Miami School of Law. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a minor in English, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Gifted in high school at debate, speech and mock trial, Alec aimed early at a law career, taking a job as an undergraduate at a small tax and wealth-planning law firm in Santa Barbara, where he worked as a clerk. After college and law school, he went on to work at nationally recognized law firms in Los Angeles and Orange counties, before deciding to join A to Z.

For Alec, this move is proof that you can go home again. A Thousand Oaks native, he has resettled in his home city and returned to work in Ventura County. Alec and his wife, Danielle, who’s also a native of Ventura County, are thrilled to be raising their year-old son, Hudson, where they grew up.

In his childhood, Alec was a devoted Boy Scout who went on to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. He has remained connected to the Ventura County Council of the Boy Scouts of America as well as the National Eagle Scout Association.

Alec is a member of the State Bar of California, Trusts & Estates and Taxation section, and he is a member of the American Bar Association.

Away from work, Alec spends most of his time with Danielle, trying to keep up with Hudson. He also enjoys hiking, salt-water fishing and pretty much all outdoor sports.

Rotary Club of Oxnard is named Chamber’s “Service Organization of the Year.”

A to Z Law Partner Kendall A. VanConas, President of the Rotary Club of Oxnard, is pleased to share that the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce has selected her Rotary club as the chamber’s “Service Organization of the Year.”
VanConas said she’s proud of the club’s commitment to community service, which includes scholarship awards to high school seniors, regularly recognizing the commitment of local teachers, and support of the Nyeland Acres Community Center, which houses a Boys & Girls Club for the children of Nyeland Acres. The Rotary Club of Oxnard has been serving the Oxnard community since 1920 and will be among those honored on June 8 at the Chamber’s 67th Annual Community & Business Awards luncheon.  
The “Service Organization of the Year” award is presented to a 501(c)3 organization providing services in Oxnard that have significantly contributed to the betterment of the Oxnard community, according to the Oxnard Chamber. The Chamber honored the Rotary Club of Oxnard for its dedication to local youth through the club’s basketball tournament, now approaching its 70th year, and sponsorship of the Pacifica High School Interact Club, among other service activities.

Susan L. McCarthy Honored among the “Top 50 Women In Business”

A to Z Law Partner Susan L. McCarthy has been named among the Top 50 Women in Business in the Central Coast, in a special section published Friday, March 24 by the Pacific Coast Business Times newspaper.

The Times annually selects 50 women from Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties to honor who have shown exceptional leadership in the business community. McCarthy is among only three Ventura County women attorneys honored this year and one of only six women attorneys in the Tri-Counties. The honorees will be celebrated at an awards reception on Thursday, April 13 at Decker’s Pavilion in Goleta.

McCarthy is the firm’s managing partner of the Litigation Group, which is comprised of a team of trial attorneys with over 100 years of experience.

McCarthy, along with John M. Mathews, was honored in October 2016 in another of the Pacific Coast Business Times’ special annual sections, “Who’s Who in Professional Services.”

McCarthy focuses her practice on business, commercial, real property and probate litigation. She has 30 years of comprehensive experience in state and federal courts handling complex litigation matters including real property title and boundary disputes, easement issues, breach of contract, landlord/tenant disputes, trade secrets and unfair competition, financial elder abuse, employment discrimination and wrongful termination.

Attorney Susan L. McCarthy Named a Partner at A to Z Law Firm in Ventura County

Susan L. McCarthy is now a partner at A to Z Law. McCarthy, a Ventura resident, became a partner effective Jan. 1. She has been associated with A to Z Law since 2003 and serves as the firm’s managing partner of the Litigation Group. McCarthy focuses her practice on business, commercial, real property and probate litigation. She has 30 years of comprehensive experience in state and federal courts handling complex litigation matters including real property title and boundary disputes, easement issues, breach of contract, landlord/tenant disputes, trade secrets and unfair competition, financial elder abuse, employment discrimination and wrongful termination.

McCarthy has served as the President of the Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association and has been a member of the board of directors since 2008. She is a longtime board member of the Ventura County Bar Association’s Board of Directors and is a past member of the VCBA’s Business Litigation Section Steering Committee. She often speaks on landlord/tenant issues.

McCarthy is A to Z Law’s representative to the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce. McCarthy also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity in Ventura County, helping to build homes for those in need.

McCarthy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1983. She received her law degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 1986 and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Central Districts of California, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. She practiced in Los Angeles from 1986 until 1999, when she moved to Ventura County.

Pacific Coast Business Times Honors John M. Mathews and Susan L. McCarthy in Special Section On Top Professionals

John Mathews - Environmental and Land Use - Water and Wastewater LawJohn M. Mathews and Susan L. McCarthy were honored to be featured in the Oct. 21 issue of the Pacific Coast Business Times, in the newspaper’s special annual section, “Who’s Who in Professional Services.”

A recognized expert in water law, Mathews is passionate about protecting the region’s water supply and quality and works to improve conservation regulations for current and future residents. He has devoted his practice to representing water districts and liquid waste districts, to environmental law, and to clients involved with land use, water and other regulatory issues. His clients include water agencies and individuals who provide water for homes, businesses and agricultural uses. Mathews is the longtime general counsel to the Pleasant Valley County Water District (the largest agricultural water district in Ventura County) and he also serves as general counsel to the Casitas Municipal Water District, Triunfo Sanitation District and the Channel Islands Beach Community Services District.

Susan McCarthy - Civil Litigation

McCarthy will become a partner at A to Z Law on Jan. 1 and will lead the firm’s Litigation Group. McCarthy focuses her practice on business, commercial, real property and probate litigation. She has comprehensive experience in state and federal courts handling complex litigation matters including real property title and boundary disputes, easement issues, breach of contract, landlord/tenant disputes, unfair competition, trademark and trade secret infringement, financial elder abuse, discrimination, wrongful termination, and employment. McCarthy also is A to Z Law’s representative to the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce and she is a longtime board member of the Ventura County Bar Association’s Board of Directors and the Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association’s Board of Directors.

A to Z Partner Dennis LaRochelle Wins $1.2 Million for Client

Dennis LaRochelleIn a recent Ventura Superior Court jury trial, A to Z Law partner Dennis LaRochelle won a $1.2 million verdict for a client injured by the carelessness of a retail store employee. The client, while shopping in the store, was knocked to the floor when a store employee struck her with a four-wheel table cart loaded with merchandise.  The client suffered head, brain and neck injuries that led to balance and sensory disorders. The defendant denied responsibility and claimed that the customer was not injured. After more than two years of litigation, the defendant offered $125,000 to settle the case one month before trial.

At the trial, LaRochelle, along with co-counsel John Howard, had 22 witnesses testify including 14 experts in a variety of disciplines such as biomechanics, video forensics, store safety, life care planning, vocational rehabilitation, neurology, otolaryngology, vestibular therapy and psychology.

In addition to garnering the $1.2 million verdict, LaRochelle will seek another $250,000 to $300,000 during post-trial proceedings for pre-judgment interest, costs and expert fees.