Donna A. Laurent, ESQ., CFLS*
Practice Area:Family Law
SOUTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, Los Angeles, CA
- Juris Doctor, Summa Cum Laude – May, 1994
- American Jurisprudence Awards
- Legal Research & Writing/ Constitutional Law/ Torts
- Corpus Juris Secundum Awards
- Civil Procedure/ Torts
- Exceptional Achievement Award
- International Protection of Human Rights
- Invited to Law Review and Moot Court Honors Program
- President – National Lawyers Guild Chapter
- Active Member – Public Interest Law Project
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, Charlottesville, VA
- Bachelor of Arts in Drama – January 1982
- Deans List of Distinguished Students
- Volunteer Attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services Domestic Violence clients
- 1995 to 2009
- Mentor Attorney for Family Law Division
- 2007 to 2009
- Volunteer Family Law Mediator – Los Angeles Superior Court
- 2003 to 2017
- Volunteer Judge Pro Tem for Los Angeles Superior Court
- 2004 to 2017
- Family Law and Domestic Violence/Civil Harassment courts
Memberships / Noteworthy Activities
2012 to 2017 Haven Hills, Inc.
- President of Board of Directors – 2014 – 2017
- Member of Board of Directors – 2013 to 2017
- Program Committee – 2012 to 2017
2019 to Present Ventura County Bar Association
- Family Law Section – 2019 to present
1994 to Present Los Angeles County Bar Association
- Family Law Section – 1996 to present
1994 to Present San Fernando Valley Bar Association
- Board of Trustees – 2003 to 2005
- ARS (Attorney Referral Service), formerly the LRIS Committee
- – 1999 to Present; Co-Chair – 2004 to Present
- Bench/Bar Committee – 2007 to 2009
- Diversity Committee – 2008 to 2010; Co-Chair High School Programs/Outreach Subcommittee – 2008
- Family Law Section – 1996 to 2019
- Executive Committee – 2002 to 2016
- Co-Chair – 2009 to 2011
- Co-Chair/Programs – 2008 to 2009
- “Unbundled Legal Services” Committee Chair – 2003
2011 to 2018 Association of Family and Conciliation
1992 to 1997 National Lawyers Guild
- Board of Directors – 1992 to 1993
- President of Student Chapter at Southwestern University SOL – 1992/1993
Legal Work Experience
8/19 to now NELSON COMIS KETTLE & KINNEY, LLP
Exclusively practicing in the area of complex family law matters, including premarital agreements, child custody, child and spousal support, property valuation and division, breach of fiduciary duty, tracing, domestic violence, co-habitation agreements, etc.
1/15 to 7/19 LAURENT LEGAL, Encino, CA
Full service and limited scope representation of clients in all aspects of complex family law proceedings, with a particular emphasis on the representation of victims of domestic violence and those falsely accused of abuse and of families of children with special needs.
2/09 to 12/14 PINES LAURENT, LLP, Encino, CA
Both full service and limited scope representation of clients in family law proceedings, including parentage actions, custody, child and spousal support, complex property valuation and division, with a particular emphasis in the representation of both domestic violence victims and families of children with special needs.
11/97 to 2/09 LAW OFFICES OF BLEIER & COX, Encino, CA
Associate Attorney – Family Law
Lead and sole counsel in numerous complicated family law proceedings, including marital dissolutions, paternity actions, post-Judgment matters, enforcement proceedings, domestic violence restraining orders, support for adult disabled children, etc. Issues addressed include child custody and visitation (with and without child custody evaluations -full psychological, focused, fast track, etc., alcohol/substance abuse, domestic violence, children/parents with disabilities/special needs, etc.), child & spousal support, add ons, property issues (including expert opinion valuation of businesses and other assets, cash flow analysis), QDRO=s, etc.
1/97 to 11/97 LAW OFFICES OF BUCHANAN & ASSOCIATES, Thousand Oaks, CA
2/95 to 8/96 (formerly BUCHANAN, ALLEN & BEATTY, P.C., Santa Monica, CA
Of Counsel – Family Law (1/97 to 11/97)
Represented clients in all phases of family law proceedings, including marital dissolutions, paternity actions, custody, child and spousal support orders, modifications and enforcement proceedings, etc.
Associate Attorney (2/95 to 8/96)
Civil litigation, both plaintiff and defense. Duties included drafting complaints, discovery, depositions, extensive research & writing and law & motion, evidence gathering, witness and trial preparation and hearings/arbitrations. Cases included civil rights, mass torts, toxic torts, medical malpractice, business litigation, contracts, and some probate and family law.
8/96 to 12/96 BALL, PYFROM, YORKE & ASSOCIATES, Agoura Hills, CA
Associate Attorney – Family Law
Primary responsibility for client representation in extremely busy family law practice (minimum of between 8 and 10 court appearances on OSC=s, motions, trials per month). Proceedings included marital dissolutions, legal separations, paternity; numerous hearings on custody, support, contempt, etc. in both Los Angeles and Ventura County Superior Courts.
10/94 to 1/95 GREEN & SILVERSTROM – A LAW CORPORATION, Woodland Hills, CA
Associate Attorney (12/94 to 1/95); Law Clerk (10/94 to 12/94)
Primarily responsible for comprehensive trial preparation, including theme development, exhibits, demonstrative evidence, liaison with jury consultants, witness preparation, direct and cross examination check-lists, etc.; sat second seat in a 10-day “unfair competition” jury trial. Other civil litigation responsibilities including law & motion research and writing, etc. in construction-related, family law and employment law fields.
1/94 to 5/94 LEWIS & CLARK LEGAL CLINIC, Portland, OR
Represented indigent clients in Employment Division hearings appealing denial of unemployment benefits. Pursued judgment collection in landlord/tenant FED case, drafted federal bankruptcy petitions.
5/92 to 8/92 SAN FERNANDO VALLEY NEIGHBORHOOD LEGAL SERVICES, Pacoima, CA
Law Clerk – Family Law
Assisted staff with marital dissolutions, paternity actions, OSC’s and TRO’s for domestic violence, child support, etc. Staff member of San Fernando and Van Nuys Superior Courts’ Domestic Violence Clinics.
Donna is thrilled to join NELSON COMIS KETTLE & KINNEY, LLP as of August 1, 2019. She has recently moved both her home and her law practice to Ventura County after living in Los Angeles County for the past 35+ years.
Donna graduated in the top 1% of her class from Southwestern University School of Law in May 1994. She was Certified by the State Bar of California as a Family Law Specialist in November 2000. She has been practicing in all aspects of complex family law matters for almost 25 years and has sat as a “Judge Pro Tem” or temporary judge in numerous family law and domestic violence courts in Los Angeles County between 2005 and 2017. She has lectured extensively for the State Bar of California, the Los Angeles County and San Fernando Valley Bar Associations and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts on various issues related to family law. Donna has also spent many years as a volunteer family law mediator and settlement officer for the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Prior to law school, Donna earned a B.A. in Drama from the University of Virginia and spent several years acting professionally in various theater companies. Thereafter, she eventually worked her way up to becoming the Director of Acquisitions for a private real estate developer and owner of multi-million dollar manufactured housing communities located throughout the U.S. She held that position for several years and was directly responsible for the acquisition and purchase of properties valued at over $50,000,000. This unique background provides Donna with skills that she creatively utilizes in both courtroom advocacy and in analyzing complex financial issues.
After her first year of law school, Donna began volunteering in the Los Angeles Superior Court Domestic Violence Clinic, which was administered by San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS). She has continued to aggressively advocate for domestic violence victims for more than 20 years and has a particular expertise in this area of family law, including the effects of trauma. She has guest lectured on this subject on numerous occasions. Donna served as the President of the Board of Directors for Haven Hills, Inc., one of the largest domestic violence shelters and programs in Los Angeles County, from 2014 through 2017. She currently volunteers as a practice judge for the California Family Law Appellate Project, which prepares pro bono attorneys for oral arguments in appellate cases involving important domestic violence issues.
In addition, Donna is highly experienced in the representation of parents who have “non-typical” children with “special needs”, including children with autism and autism spectrum diagnoses, bipolar disorder, dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, neurological, developmental and other physical delays and challenges. She brings personalized knowledge, empathy and an ability to develop and implement individualized parenting plans that best suit the unique needs of these children to their families.
Donna is also active in local bar association activities. She recently joined the Family Law Section of the Ventura County Bar Association and was a member of the Family Law Executive Committee of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association (SFVBA) between 2002 and 2018. She is a former Co-Chair of the Family Law Section and of programming for the section. She has chaired the bar’s “Unbundled Legal Services” and Lawyer Referral and Information Services (LRIS) Committees and been a member of the Bench/Bar and Diversity Committees. She is a former SFVBA Board of Trustee member.
In her free time, Donna enjoys practicing meditation, yoga and flower gardening.
Donna’s philosophy of mindful, conscious, holistic family law peacemaking…
Family Law issues can be heart-breaking. Individuals involved in intimate partner relationship break ups are suffering perhaps the worst crisis of their life. Surviving the break up can be a long and difficult journey–emotionally, legally and financially. Donna strives to incorporate mindfulness in her practice of family law in an effort to help dial down the habitual emotional reactivity that so often challenges those caught up in painful family law disputes. Mindfulness allows both the parties and attorneys to not be sucked into personality or other conflicts but to focus instead on the innate ability we all have to define our own experience by consciously choosing how to feel, react and behave.
Donna strives to guide family law clients holistically, without sacrificing essential needs and/or compromising safety, in an approach designed to help clients heal while navigating the challenges that relationship transitions bring. There are emotional and behavioral habits within all of us, many deeply embedded, which are toxic and cause unnecessary suffering. Donna is committed to bringing peace and order to her clients’ complicated custody, support and property disputes. Donna believes lawyers should be healers and peacemakers, rather than warring destroyers. Those involved in family law disputes need to be treated with compassion and a genuine concern for resolution of the difficult and emotional issues they face.
Our adversarial legal system is founded upon conflict and effectively ignores the devastating consequences that warring over issues brings to individuals and their families. Nevertheless, there are times when litigation can be a necessary and effective tool–when used consciously and with respect for the humanity of the other side. Donna believes it is possible to be both a zealous warrior advocate and compassionate and enthusiastic peacemaker without sacrificing the true needs and/or safety of her clients. Even in the most highly contested family law disputes, acknowledgment and sensitivity towards the trauma of the breakup of intimate relationships can restore dignity to the process for both sides.
Trauma informed care…
Donna embraces the principals of “trauma-informed” care in assisting her clients who are victims of domestic violence. In doing so, she recognize the devastating impact of violence and victimization. Her goal is to ensure client safety while creating trust through collaboration, empowerment and respect in an effect to minimize the possibility of re-traumatization while maximizing client choice in the legal process.
10/17/15 Cut on the Bias: Acknowledging an Incurable Epidemic in Family Law
(with Judges Aviva K. Bobb, Robert Schnider and Michelle Williams Court)
37th Annual Child Custody Colloquium, Los Angeles County Bar Association Family Law Section
9/28/15 Domestic Violence: The Many Perspectives
(with Judges Susan Lopez-Giss and Harvey Silberman)
San Fernando Valley Bar Association – Family Law Section
2/26/14 Trauma Informed Nonviolent Standards of Care (TINSOC) in the Context of Representing Domestic Violence Victims in Family Law Court
Echo Parenting and Education / Changing the Paradigm: Trauma and the Developing Child
2/11/12 Vicarious Victimization of Family Law Professionals by Custody Litigants–Taking Care of Our Own
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts California Chapter Conference /
The New Frontier–Exploring the Challenges and Possibilities of the Changed
Landscape for Children and the Courts
9/16/11 Best Practices: A Practical and Ethical Approach to Unbundling in Family Law
(with Judge Mark A. Juhas)
The State Bar of California 84th Annual Meeting
10/9/10 California Domestic Violence Law
California Lutheran University / Psychology Department
4/28/08 Alternatives to Filing a Custody OSC (Order to Show Cause)
(with Judge Thomas Trent Lewis)
Los Angeles County Bar Association/San Fernando Valley Bar Association
Family Law Sections
6/26/06 Family Law Issues Concerning Special Needs Children
(with Commissioner Susan K. Weiss)
San Fernando Valley Bar Association – Family Law Section
2/11/06 Special Needs Children
(with Judge Robert P. Applegate)
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts California Chapter Conference /21st Century Children,
21st Century Needs–New Options for a New Age
4/25/05 Custody Issues for Families with Special Needs Children
(with Commissioner Robert P. Applegate)
San Fernando Valley Bar Association – Family Law Section