Interview with Trust & Probate Attorney Matthew Talbot

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  • Describe a case in the last year where you made a big difference

I feel like I have made a big difference in many of my cases, but what comes to mind at present is a conservatorship case I recently had. We helped protect hundreds of thousands of dollars from active elder abusers and ensure appropriate care for somebody who had had a psychiatric breakdown.

  • How have you built a successful practice?

Responsiveness is definitely key here, because people are often in a state of crisis when in need of an Elder Law attorney.  They want somebody who can get back to them as soon as possible, and offer sound guidance so that issues can be resolved quickly.  

I also focus on lowering the stress of my clients, I am up front and reasonable with them, and I focus on keeping costs as low as possible. Happy clients equals a successful and thriving law practice.

In addition, I have also worked hard to network with as many professionals as possible and have built a solid referral network. 

  • What should clients look for in an attorney?

Clients should look for an attorney with experience handling their type of case, along with responsiveness and billing transparency. Attorneys specialize in many different types of law, so you want to make sure you are retaining an attorney who focuses on your case type. Additionally, you want someone who will respond to your questions/thoughts quickly and help guide you through your case. A good lawyer will ensure you understand all your options, and move your case forward in a timely manner.

Finally, billing for an attorney can be confusing to the client.  You want to make sure you are getting your money's worth, so you want a lawyer who is clear and open about their billing practices.

  • How important is your knowledge of the local area to the success of your cases?

It can be very important to have experience with the local procedures of the court system, as well as the attorneys in one's areas.  The courts in each county are very different, and it is extremely helpful to know how the different clerks handle cases, and how the judges like things done.  Additionally, it is helpful you have trust with the judges.  While they are of course impartial, judges will tend to place greater trust in attorneys they see over and over again.  Finally, knowing all the attorneys in the area is helpful, because it is easier to resolve matters with attorneys you interact with on a consistent basis. I focus on cases in Contra Costa County and Alameda County for these specific reasons.

  • What information do you typically provide in a free consultation?

I  go over the general facts of the case and try to provide analysis regarding the next steps.  

  • What information do you need for a free consultation? 

Information on the parties involved, whether estate planning documents exist, record of any court proceedings, and discussions to date by those involved in case. Typically, the more information, the better I can advise clients on how to move forward.

  • What differentiates you from other attorneys in your community?

Experience.  I focus exclusively on the field of Elder Law and have a full decade worth of administration and litigation experience. I have a good track record of settling cases in a timely manner, in the best interest of the clients. I have worked hard to build connections and good relationships with many attorneys in the area. My enhanced level of trust with attorneys and judges alike facilitates ease in resolving cases and accomplishing client's goals.

  • What is the most rewarding aspect of being an attorney?

Seeing my clients happy with the work I have done for them.

  • What other interests do you have in addition to law?

Cal Sports, Music (I played sax in the Cal Band) - I frequently attend Symphony Concerts, Operas, and Jazz Concerts.  Spending time with my wife and daughter, and the many wonderful friends we have in the area. I have also been known to do a comedy show on occasion.

  • Are you involved in your community?

Yes. I am on the board of Contra Costa County Senior Legal Services, which provides low cost and free legal services for seniors in our county. I am also a member of the Criminal Conflicts Panel, a legal organization that also provides legal services at low cost or pro bono for those who cannot afford it in our community. In addition, I am a member of the Moderate Means Panel - attorneys on this panel provide their services at a large discount to citizens of limited income in our community.

I am an active member of the Executive Board for Inns of Court, a group that provides education and networking between attorneys and Judges in Contra Costa and Alameda County. I am also on the Board for the local Barristers Association. I am a member of our Chamber of Commerce, and also donate and volunteer for several local charities on a regular basis, including White Pony Express in Walnut Creek.