Event Details

Do's and Don'ts for When Opposing "Counsel" is a Self-Represented Litigant

Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) make up a dominant portion of the court’s non-criminal calendars. Cases involving SRLs present unique challenges to any attorney handling the case in opposition. This presentation seeks to identify the main challenges and offer tips on how to handle these challenges while effectively representing your client.

Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) make up a dominant portion of the court’s non-criminal calendars. Cases involving SRLs present unique challenges to any attorney handling the case in opposition. This presentation seeks to identify the main challenges and offer tips on how to handle these challenges while effectively representing your client. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Identify the varying impetuses behind the litigant’s decision to self-represent.
  • Distinguish between the need to practice “patient Advocacy” while still protecting your client’s substantive rights and interests. 
  • Evaluate what communication methods are most effective in memorializing your communications with the SRL and create a useful record. 
  • Explain the Court’s role in presiding over matters involving SRLs in light of the obligation to ensure due process and neutrality, while seeking to prevent unfair disadvantage. 
  • Integrate practical tips in handling matters involving a self-represented litigation, including communications, use of other professionals, and trial presentation.

Registration Fee

$65 - SCBA Members  |  $45 - Barristers Club, 1st 5 years  |  $80 - Public  |  $20 - Students


Commissioner Paul Lozada Bench Portrait

Hon. Paul Lozada
Sonoma County Superior Court

The Honorable Paul Lozada is a Court Commissioner appointed to the Sonoma County Superior Court in January of 2020. As a commissioner, he has presided over a misdemeanor trial court, the traffic division and has also handled hundreds of Civil Harassment and Elder Abuse. In January of 2022, he was reassigned to the Family Law Division where he has presided in Department 20 handling Title IV-D Child Support and Domestic matters. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Lozada was in private practice handling criminal defense and family law matters in Sonoma County and other counties. He presents MCLE classes on Implicit Bias in the Legal Profession and has substantial international and cross-cultural experience due to his mission experience working for the United Nations at the policy level in Kosovo, Serbia in the years 2000-2001. In this capacity, Commissioner Lozada, amongst many other duties, was involved in the drafting of the Domestic Violence Protection laws implemented throughout the province while the U.N. Temporary Government was working to stabilize the province after the war. Commissioner Lozada also supervised and led an international staff representing fifty-two different countries involved in the U.N. Mission. 

Brandon Blevans portrait

Brandon Blevans, CFLS, AAML, ACFTL
Blevans & Blevans

Brandon R. Blevans’ practice focuses on issues involving complex compensation, business and tax issues related to business valuation, apportionment of community and separate property interests in premarital businesses, and the determination of income for support purposes. Prior to practicing family law, Brandon spent 12 years counseling companies on complex labor and employment issues, and litigating high-conflict employment and trade secret cases on behalf of management. He is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts in California, and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Brandon is a skilled trial attorney, with experience trying complex family law cases. His experience has led to Brandon serving on the faculty of the nationally renowned National Family Law Trial Institute (Houston), where he teaches all aspects of trial practice to family law attorneys across the country. Brandon’s experience has been both state and nationally recognized: He is a certified specialist in Family Law, certified by the California State Board of Legal Specialization, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, has received the prestigious “Best Lawyers” designation by Best Lawyers in America, has been routinely recognized on the list of Northern California Super Lawyers by SuperLawyers® (a part of Thomson Reuters), and has received the highest possible rating for the ethical practice of law (AV – Preeminent) by Martindale Hubbell®. Brandon Blevans was named by The Best Lawyers, as the Lawyer of the Year (2021) for his work in Family Law in Santa Rosa. Brandon is also a Diplomat of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers. This association is limited to the top 100 family law trial lawyers in the United States and is strictly by invitation only.

Brandon regularly conducts presentations for attorneys, Judicial Officers, and CPAs at various family law conferences on topics related to business valuation, tracing, and trial presentation. He received his Juris Doctor in 1998 from Duke University School of Law, and was admitted to the practice of law in the State of California that year. He received his undergraduate degree in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995.

Leo Bartolotta Portrait

Leo Bartolotta, CFLS
Geary, Shea, O’Donnell, Grattan & Mitchell

Mr. Bartolotta has been with Geary, Shea, O’Donnell, Grattan & Mitchell since April 2001, having moved to Santa Rosa from San Diego after practicing for five years with the firm of Thorsnes, Bartolotta & McGuire. His current litigation practice is focused on family law and real property disputes for both plaintiffs and defendants. Prior to this, he focused on plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and personal injury litigation. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Bartolotta moved to California in 1996 to attend law school at California Western School of Law. In his spare time, Mr. Bartolotta enjoys fishing and hiking with his wife and daughter.

Kara Olhiser Portrait

Kara M. Olhiser
Conner, Lawrence, Rodney, Olhiser & Barrett

Kara Olhiser has been practicing family law for more than 20 years. She became a partner at Conner, Lawrence, Rodney, Olhiser & Barrett LLP in 2009. Her practice areas include divorce, legal separation, custody and visitation, spousal support, child support, property division, domestic violence issues, and restraining orders. Kara’s approach includes utilizing mediation, collaborative law, and traditional litigation.  Kara also assists families as a parent coordinator.

Kara received her degree from Santa Clara University school of Law in 1998. She’s very active in the legal community and has served as the President of Sonoma County Women in Law, the Chair of the Sonoma County Family Law Committee, and as the Family Law Bar Representative on the Sonoma County Bar Association Board of Directors. Additionally, she’s the current liaison between Family Court Services and the Sonoma County Family Law Bar. She welcomes any opportunity to use her conflict resolution skills to achieve an ideal outcome. In addition to her skill/experience as an advocate, Kara believes it is important to handle each case with compassion, integrity and respect.

Lawyer Referral Service

SCBA can help you find the right lawyer to assist you with your legal issues.
Contact Win Rogers by email or call her at (707) 546-5297 for a referral.