James J. Phillips

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Since 1980, Mr. Phillips' practice has focused exclusively on estate and trust planning, probate and trust administration, and related tax law. This includes his representation of individuals in preparing their wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and related estate documents. He also represents trustees, executors, administrators, attorneys-in-fact, conservators, and guardians.

CERTIFIED SPECIALIST in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization since inception of State certification program in 1990. Achieved the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards by Martindale Hubbell Law Directory, and included in their Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers annually since 1995.

SUPER LAWYER: Awarded Northern California Super Lawyers since 2005.

EDUCATION: Golden Gate University School of Law (Master of Laws (LL.M. in Taxation, 1988); Hastings College of Law, University of California (Juris Doctor, 1980; First Place, 1979 David E. Snodgrass Moot Court Competition - Best Written Brief); University of California at Davis (Bachelor of Science in Human Development, magna cum laude, 1976); Castro Valley High School (1972).

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS: 1991-1992, Member of the Executive Committee of California State Bar's Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section. 1990, President of the Eastern Alameda County Bar Association. Former member of the Executive Committee of the Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section of the Alameda County Bar Association. Former director of the Estate Planning Council of the East Bay. Member of Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section and Taxation Section of the State Bar of California and of Tri-Valley Business and Estate Planning Council. Member of National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.

PUBLICATIONS: Author: "Tax Comparison of Living Trusts and Wills," Fundamentals of Estate Planning, CEB and the State Bar Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Section Program (April 1991); "Tax Considerations in Comparing Living Trusts and Wills," Drafting Wills and Related Estate Planning Documents, CEB and the State Bar Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Section Program (April/May 1990); "Taxes and Living Trusts," California Lawyer (February 1989); "Federal Income Tax Differences Between Living Trust Administration and Probate Administration," Tax Exchange (November 1988).

PROBATE COURT APPOINTMENTS: Served as Judge Pro Tem, Alameda County Superior Courts. Appointed by Alameda County Probate Court as Special Master, Guardian Ad Litem, and Personal Representative in contested trust, probate, conservatorship, and guardianship cases.

PRIOR EMPLOYMENT: Existing firm established in Pleasanton and Hayward in 1989. Of Counsel to Varni, Fraser, Hartwell & Rodgers in Pleasanton from 1989 to 1992. Attorney with Smith, Etnire, Polson & Scott in Pleasanton from 1983 to 1989. Attorney in Hayward from 1980 to 1983.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Former director of Tri-Valley Community Foundation and Castro Valley Arts Foundation. Director Emeritus of California State University Hayward Educational Foundation, Inc. Director of Hayward Rotary Club Foundation and of Eden Area Foundation. Member of Pleasanton, Livermore, and Castro Valley Chambers of Commerce and Hayward Rotary Club. Founder and coach of Castro Valley Track Club.

PERSONAL: Native of Castro Valley, California. Son of Alameda County Superior Court Judge George W. Phillips, Jr., who served from 1964 - 1980. Married with two children.

FIRM'S PARALEGALS: Donna DeMartini has over 17 years of experience as the probate examiner in Alameda County, three years as a senior paralegal with the firm of Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos and Rudy, LLP in San Francisco and as a paralegal with the Law Offices of James J. Philips in Pleasanton since November of 2003. She is a graduate from Ohlone College in Fremont, obtained her paralegal certificate from St. Mary's College in Moraga in 1982, has taken numerous continuing legal education classes in probate and tax matters, and has spoken at CJER's Continuing Judicial Studies Program and the Legal Secretaries, Incorporated Quarterly Conference. Mary Beth Bochner is a graduate from California State University Hayward and earned a paralegal certificate from St. Mary's College in Moraga in 1989. She was a paralegal with the law firm of Fitzgerald, Abbott & Beardsley, LLP in Oakland for fourteen years before joining the Law Offices of James J. Phillips in Pleasanton in May 2008. Mary Beth has taken various continuing education courses from CEB, Alameda County Bar Association Estate Planning Group, San Francisco Paralegal Association and the Alameda County Legal Secretaries Association.

(Certified Specialist, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization)

Areas of Practice (2)

  • Trusts and Estates
  • Wills and Probate

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
925-271-2243  Phone
510-886-2120  Phone
925-463-1980  Phone
925-463-8656  Fax
University Attended:
University of California at Davis, B.S., magna cum laude, 1976
Law School Attended:
Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 1980; Golden Gate University School of Law, LL.M. in Taxation, 1988
Year of First Admission:
1980, California; 1980, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Eastern Alameda County (President, 1990), Alameda County and Contra Costa County Bar Associations; State Bar of California (Member, Executive Committee, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section, 1991-1992); National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
( Certified Specialist, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization )
Hobbies & interests:
Founder and coach of Castro Valley Track Club, Inc. www.cvtrackclub.com
Payment Information:
  • Free Initial Consultation
  • Fixed Hourly Rates
  • Fixed Fees Available

Peer Reviews

A Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rating reflects a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating.

*Peer Reviews provided before April 15, 2008 are not displayed.


Pleasanton, California

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    Pleasanton, CA
    Signature Center , 4900 Hopyard Road, Suite 260 , P.O. Box 10005
    Pleasanton, CA 94588-3150

    925-271-2243 Phone

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