Private Judging

About Your Judges

Lee C. Pearce

Lee C. Pearce has frequently served as a Judge Pro Tem in the family courts of Contra Costa County, California since 1982. He has regularly served as a privately compensated family law judge since 2001. Since then, he has limited his practice to acting as a neutral either as a private judge or mediator
As a private judge, he has handled all aspects of family law property family law property characterization and division, stock option allocation, business valuation, tracing, and other aspects of complex property litigation, as well as custody, support and access disputes.

He is a founding director and first President of the Family Law Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association in 1987 helping the organization serve its members from Contra Costa and Alameda counties. After 25 years of service he has retired from the Board.

Mr. Pearce was first trained as a family law or mediator in 1992, and has had an active mediation practice since that time. He has mediated all aspects of family law litigation, including complex property and tracing issues as well as non-litigation issues, such as premarital agreements, co-parenting agreements, and the like.

He takes great care to level the playing field for mediating couples so that they can both comfortably explore resolution options which may be unavailable in the traditional courts. He takes pleasure in helping couples craft creative solutions to their marital problems and finds personal and professional satisfaction in helping couples to reach their own agreement in the privacy and informality of the mediation process.

1975 – Admitted to the State Bar of California

1975 to present - private practice of family law in Contra Costa County, California. Practice limited to neutral work as a private judge or mediator since 2001

1980 to present - member of the first class of Family Law Specialists certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

1975 - J.D. Golden Gate University
1969 - 1972 Officer, United States Army
1969 - B.S. in Political Science, Old Dominion University

Since the early 1990’s he has frequently presented classes and trainings to the private bar at Bar Association sessions. He has received many awards and certificates for his participation and leadership in court and Bar Association projects and program.

M. Sue Talia

M. Sue Talia is an AV rated Family Law Specialist, certified by the Board of Specialization of the State Bar of California. Since 1977, she has practiced in Contra Costa County, California, focusing on complex family law litigation. She was formerly known as M. Sue Greicar.

While maintaining a practice specializing in high-end family law litigation, she published two books. Three more are in the works.

Since 1997 she has limited her practice to private judging in complex family law matters.

She frequently teaches workshops on a variety of subjects, including Marital Standard of Living, How to be an Effective Family Law Forensic CPA, and How to Have a Profitable Part Time Family Law Practice. She also teaches workshops to the general public to educate them on the family law system and how to make most effective use of it. Additionally, she has taught workshops on family law subjects through the California Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Contra Costa Family Law Section.

She is a frequent speaker on unbundled legal services and presented three workshops on the topic at the first national conference on unbundled legal services in October, 2000. She is a member of the Limited Representation Committee of the California Commission on Access to Justice

She is a founding director of the Family Law Section of Contra Costa County and remains active in that organization, frequently writing articles on matters of interest to family lawyers.

She is also involved actively advocating reform of the family law system in the State of California and other states.

Law Offices of M. Sue Talia, P.O. Box 2335, Danville, California 94526
Law Offices of M. Sue Talia, 2333 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Suite 150, San Ramon California 94583 1994 to 1997
Law Offices of M. Sue Talia, 380 Diablo Road, Suite 210, Danville, California 94526, 1988 to 1994
Thiessen, Gagen & McCoy, 279 Front Street, Danville, California, 1983-1988
Merrill, Thiessen & Gagen, 379 Diablo Road, Danville, California, 1977-1983

Hastings College of the Law, JD 1977, Constitutional Law Quarterly
Stanford University, MA, American History 1974
Santa Clara University, BA, American History 1971, summa cum laude

American Bar Association, Louis M. Brown award for innovation in access to justice, February, 2004
American Bar Association, Cindy Raisch award for innovation in lawyer referral service access October 2004
California Access to Justice Commission, special service award, January 2004
Founding Director Family Law Section, Contra Costa County Bar, 1986 to 1995; President 1990
Task force on Limited Scope Representation through the Access to Justice Commission of the State of California, 2001 to present
Editor, In Chancery, the monthly publication of the Family Law Section, 1995 - 1997
Numerous Bar Association and Family Law Section committees including Task Force for Family Court Reform
Family Law Section, American Bar Association, 1980 to present

How to Avoid the Divorce from Hell (And Dance Together at Your Daughter’s Wedding), Second edition - 2006, Nexus Publishing Company, Danville, California
Unbundling Your Divorce: How to Find a Lawyer to Help You Help Yourself - 2006, Nexus Publishing Company, A Client’s Guide to Limited Legal Services, Nexus Publishing Company, Danville, California
Everything I Needed to Know I Learned After Law School: Memos to a New Family Lawyer. E-book 2007, Nexus Publishing Company
Reducing the Need for Pro Se Assistance by Re-engaging the Private bar (publication pending, March 2005)
Zen and the Art of Family Lawyering, Contra Costa Lawyer 2000
Divorcing the Dursleys, Contra Costa Lawyer, 2001

Dozens of articles in legal publications on family law issues, practice management and unbundled legal services, including ACFLS, the Family Advocate, Divorce Magazine and other similar publications.

Frequent workshops and courses for attorneys, accountants and individuals on topics including Successful Divorce, Family Law Evidence for Attorneys, Marital Standard of Level, How to be an Effective Family Law Forensic CPA, How to Try the High Income Support Case, and her personal favorite, How to have a Practice And a Life: Creating a Profitable Part Time Practice

Host, How to Avoid the Divorce from Hell, a weekly radio talk show at station WALE, Providence RI 1997-1998
Numerous appearances as talk show guest, including, The Ronn Owens Show, KGO San Francisco
A Woman’s Idea, Snow Anderson, Host KVFF, Santa Fe, NM
News Talk 790, Craig Robbins, Host WNC, Memphis, TN

Danville Area Chamber of Commerce, President, 1985
Discovery Center, President, 1980-1982
Soroptimist International of San Ramon Valley, President, 1980
Numerous additional committees and community organizations