E3 – Being Prepared for Mediation – Your Day In Court Continues!

As more and more fiduciaries begin to steer their practice more towards serving and acting as trustees, the more likely fiduciaries are to find themselves involved in litigation. Fiduciaries can find themselves in litigation even when they thought the case was straightforward and easy and not a contested matter. This includes conservatorship and probate proceedings. This presentation is a sequel to last year’s 2023 presentation (titled Your Day in Court! Being Prepared for Litigation and Testifying) that addressed the stages of litigation, how a fiduciary can and should conduct their practice in order to protect themselves when faced with litigation, and review of depositions and testifying. In this presentation, we will briefly review the stages of litigation and specifically focus on mediation and understanding the mediation process and the various ways to resolve a case or dispute without proceeding to trial. The presentation will provide various strategies for negotiation, best practices when preparing for mediation and in preparing the client/fiduciaries and managing their expectations, and understanding the mediation process, including the mediation privilege and effect of settlement agreements. This presentation will be geared not only towards the beginner fiduciary, but also the seasoned fiduciary and the attorneys that represent them.


Debby Doitch

Debby Doitch

KJMLAW Partners

Debby Doitch is a shareholder at KJMLAW Partners, where she focuses primarily on probate and trust litigation. She also handles a wide variety of business, employment, real estate and family law disputes, as well as represents petitioners, objectors, creditors, and trustees in probate and bankruptcy proceedings. Debby is a major proponent of working with fiduciaries to help resolve matters when cases become highly contested, and will also represent fiduciaries in their professional roles as well. Debby has extensive trial experience as well as significant success in taking her cases to mediation and arbitration.  

In addition to her extensive probate and litigation experience, Debby represents families in guardianship and conservatorship cases.  Over the years, she continues to succeed in petitioning the court to appoint individuals so that they can help disperse funds and manage estates left to children or other beneficiaries in need of support. Debby is also a court appointed counsel for those with developmental disabilities. Prior to attending law school, Debby was an ABA Behavioral Therapist, where she worked with children with developmental disabilities. 

Debby earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology at California State University, Northridge and a Juris Doctor from Western State University College of Law. Outside of practicing law, Debby enjoys spending time with her family, skiing, traveling and volunteering her time in the special needs community. 

Jill Judson

Jill Judson

CSC Fiduciaries, Inc.

Jill Judson joined CSC in January 2016 and a year later became an owner in the rm. For 22 years, Ms. Judson was a paralegal, specializing in workers’ compensation defense, primarily focusing on the medical side of this specialty. While transitioning to the fiduciary business, Ms. Judson served approximately 30 seniors in the Central Contra Costa area as Care Manager for a non-prot agency. These experiences, paired with the fact that her husband also serves the same aging population, quickly launched her success as a licensed fiduciary. 

Ms. Judson attended U.C. Davis for 3 years majoring in Managerial Economics. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Human Resources, and a minor in Economics from California State University, Sacramento. She later obtained her Certicate in Paralegal Studies from California State University, Hayward, and in 2015 received her Certicate in Fiduciary Management from California State University, Fullerton. 

In her free time, Ms. Judson enjoys baking, going to Sharks hockey games, as well as the theatre. She enjoys spending time with her husband of 37 years, their two children and their spouses, and most especially their two grandchildren.

Hon. Judge Mary Thornton-House (Ret.)

Hon. Judge Mary Thornton-House (Ret.)

Alternative Resolution Centers (ARC)

Judge Mary Thornton House was a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court bench for 22 years; 8 of those years, she was assigned to a probate department where she presided over trust, wills, and conservatorship matters. She was an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles. She is now a private neutral for Alternative Resolution Centers (ARC). She authors Thomson Reuter’s California Civil Jury Instructions Companion Handbook.

Judge House has been honored throughout her career. In 2004, Los Angeles County honored her as one of its ‘Women of the Year’ and named Judge of the Year by the Pasadena Bar Association.  In 2008, the California Judges Association awarded her the Bernard F. Jefferson’s Award for Excellence in Judicial Education. In 2011, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association awarded her the Excellence in Judicial Administration award for her leadership in getting California’s Expedited Jury Trials legislation passed, the development of the current universal judgment form, and simplification of small claims pleadings.  In 2013, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association named her their Judge of the Year.

Judge House graduated from UCLA and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego.