I recommend Jim without reservation. He is exactly what one looks for in legal representation. His work is rigorous, detailed, and timely, as one would expect, but as importantly his practice is built on the highest level of integrity. You can trust Jim in every sense of the word – he will come through for you when you need him with quality results and complete honesty and dependability. As an added bonus, he is as fine a human being as he is an attorney.
Jim is a litigator who possesses both a friendly and warm personality, but with the tenacity of a top notch trial lawyer. He is a tireless worker for his clients and can deal with complex business and technical issues in a way that can be understood by judges and juries. As the general counsel to a large division of a multinational corporation, I hired Jim to represent us on a highly contentious issue in which the other side employed top-notch and aggressive counsel. The end result was favorable to our company in no small measure to Jim’s role as defense counsel.
I would not hesitate to hire him again.
In addition to providing excellent, defensible and strategically astute legal advice, Jim’s work product is impeccable. His keen intellect and vast body of experience underscore the value of his recommendations and unlike many in his profession, his ego does not impede his ability to communicate thoroughly and effectively. I would highly recommend him to anyone seeking leadership in legal matters.
Jim will make time for you as a client and follow through on any promises he makes.
For a long time, the law governing powers of appointment in California was English common law. English common law held that if the party who created the power simply said that a certain amount of property was to be given to “ the grandchildren” or some other class of people without specifying how much was to go to who, then all the grandchildren, everyone in that class, had to receive more than a nominal amount and no one could be excluded. In 1970, California adopted the Powers of Appointment Act which reversed this. The 1970 Act held that unless the party who created the power explicitly instructed that no one in the class could be excluded or that specific members of the class could not be excluded, then the power could be made to distribute in any proportions whatever and could exclude anyone in the class.
So if we follow the 1970 law, the instructions “give the property to the grandchildren,” given before that law went into effect, take on a completely different meaning than they originally had, and the stated intention of the party who gave those instructions is reversed and contradicted. Obviously this wonʼt do, especially if the new law passed after the powerʼs creator died and so he had no opportunity to change his language. But the California legislature recognized this and held that the new law could effect certain ways in which an existing power was exercised, but that it couldnʼt change the language with which the power had been created or the intent of that language.
Nothing in the new law could make invalid a power of appointment that had been valid before the Act, and the Act could not arbitrarily contradict intentions expressed in a will.
I must have talked to forty or fifty lawyers about this, and the uniform answer was, “you havenʼt got a case,” “who do you think you are?” “Iʼve been a lawyer for twenty-five years, and if I havenʼt already thought of it, itʼs wrong,” “arenʼt you afraid you will be penalized for pursuing a frivolous legal action.” Stuff like that. I was told that the legislatureʼs “nothing in the new law” statement doubtless had no real meaning and was put in for no particular reason. Nobody had a clue, nobody gave the matter serious thought, and nobody listened. Then I talked to Jim. He actually listened. And because he listened, he saw that indeed there was a winnable case and he threw his whole life into it. It took five years to clear the mountain of deadwood that was between us and the completion of the case but he did it, and there are very few attorneys who could have done it except him.
Thomas W. Sefton, Jr.