Valerie L. Patten, Esq.

Valerie L. Patten, Esq. Family Law - About

Valerie L. Patten attorney / lawyer 




       Before founding the Law Office of Valerie L. Patten in 1996, I worked for two small law firms (one in Washington, D.C., and one in San Jose, California) and for Legal Advocates for Children and Youth. My practice is currently devoted to Family Law and associated disciplines. I have broad experience in all aspects of family law, from representation of children and public interest work to handling complex custody matters and representation of clients in high asset cases involving substantial community and separate property. I have experience with high conflict divorces proceeding to Trial. I have also utilized ADR and have worked with private judges, mediators, and JAMS with very positive results. In addition, I am experienced in Family Law Mediation and have fulfilled the educational requirements for a mediation practice.




JD, 1992

MFA, 1981

AB, 1972



Bar Association Memberships:

California State Bar, American Bar Association, San Mateo County Bar Association, Santa Clara County Bar Association (& membership in Family Law Sections).


Court Admissions:

Admitted to the California State Bar in December 1992; Supreme Court of
California, Federal District Court, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals


Work Experience:

Law Office of Valerie L. Patten, 1996 - present

Associate Attorney, Hoover & Associates, San Jose, California, 1993-1996

Staff Attorney, Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, San Jose, California, 1992-1993

Law Clerk, Garfinkle and Associates, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992

Legal Intern, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, 1990


Volunteer Court Activities and Affiliations:

Santa Clara County Superior Court: Settlement Officer Conferences, handling the Default calendar, assisting the Court with Mandatory Settlement Conferences. I have been appointed to represent children in high conflict cases. 

San Mateo County Superior Court: assisting the Facilitator’s Office, Community Law Night participation


Seminars, Speaking, and Teaching: 

NBI “Child Custody and Visitation in California,” presenter in January 2003, April 2006, and June 2007 (San Jose, California). 

Presented lectures on Copyright and Contracts for Artists by invitation at San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, and California Lawyers for the Arts (at the Fort Mason Center and in Oakland), 1993-1995. 

Designed and taught a Continuing Education course at San Jose State entitled, “Legal Aspects of Career Development for Artists,” 1993. 


Pro Bono Contributions: Volunteer Attorney:

Pro Bono Panel Member, San Jose, CA 2002-2004; Guardianship Panel, Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, 1993-2000. 


Written Contributions and Publications:

“Making Your Way Through Small Claims Court,” Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, D.C.; model “Artist-Gallery Contract” used by Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (1991); chapters and research for the Guardianship Manual for Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, 1993. 


Honors at Georgetown University Law Center:

Recipient: American Jurisprudence Award, Family Law, 1991; Dean’s List 1990-1992; Best Paper, Psychiatry and the Law, 1992; Best Paper, Gender and the Law, 1991; Law Review, Journal of Law and Technology


Community Activities and Past Board Memberships:

Young Audiences of San Jose/Silicon Valley (Secretary in 2000); DanceVisions (Palo Alto); Friends of San Pedro Valley Park, Pacifica, CA (President in 2007, assisted in obtaining nonprofit status); Head Registrar/MC, annual awards ceremony, John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, 2002 – 2014.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is your opinion regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues? 
This is a great idea, and very helpful. I will do it as long as I have a crystal clear, carefully discussed and delineated relationship with the client.

Are you willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?
As long as I have a clear, carefully discussed and delineated role and relationship with the client.

Why did you decide to be a lawyer?
I had a real interest in understanding something that could be useful to others, and a love of studying constitutional law to understand the basis of our rights. 

What work experience and education helps you be a better lawyer? 
My volunteer work for Santa Clara County Superior Court: from 1999 through to the present: I have served the court by handling property mediations and settlement conferences as well as assisting the court in resolution of highly contentious cases on the eve of trial. Through this experience, and my own active practice, I have been exposed to a wide range of complex family law issues and a great variety of attorneys. There is no better learning experience than serving the court in this way. 

My time at Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, a public interest firm under the auspices of the Law Foundation of Santa Clara County, provided experience in child-related family law issues. Subsequently, my work in a family law firm in downtown San Jose prepared me to open my own practice where I could create my own philosophy and choose my clients.

Why did you decide on your primary area of practice?
I felt that it chose me. In law school, perhaps because I was an older student entering a second career, I seemed to have an aptitude for family law. I received the American Jurisprudence Award for my performance in Dean Areen’s Family Law I course. So I thought, “This must be it.”

What do you like best about your career?
The feeling that I have done something good for a client.

Tell us about your law firm:
I established my firm in Palo Alto in 1996, and my office was initially located on San Antonio Road.  I moved to my current location in Redwood City at 1690 Woodside Road, Suite 114, in 2013; my office is in an area which is easily accessible from Stanford University (which I attended as an undergraduate). My practice has always included clients residing in both Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.  I have also handled cases in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, and Santa Cruz County.