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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Up Close with Kate Reder, San Francisco Family Law Attorney


By Sara Ayazi BASF Bulletin Contributor


Kate Reder practices Family Law at the San Francisco law firm Wald & Thorndal. Since 2006, she has provided comprehensive legal services to both traditional and non-traditional families in the Bay Area. BASF caught up with this San Francisco native to discuss her practice and ways to enter into this profession. Kate Reder

BASF: How did you decide to pursue a career in Family Law?

Kate Reder (KR): I knew that I wanted to do work with non-heteronormative families (I was the “one straight woman in the Gay and Lesbian Studies major” at my college). Ultimately, I decided I wanted to work downstream (in litigation) rather than upstream (in policy) because I find the personal stories very compelling. For me, it’s working intensively with one family that is more rewarding than policy which is much more nebulous.

BASF: On a typical day as an associate at Wald & Thorndal, what do you do?

KR: I might work on a surrogacy contract, respond to written discovery requests, prepare for a hearing, and have several calls with clients. Family Law doesn’t really lend itself to quick conversations with clients. We are dealing with people going through what is arguably the hardest period of their lives, so the phone calls can be fairly time-intensive.

BASF: What do you find rewarding about practicing in this field?

KR: Child custody. When the “best interest of the child” standard is honored, and borne out, that’s a pretty spectacular victory. I also really value working on parentage, which is the step before child custody wherein a party’s claim of being a legal parent to a child is adjudicated. It’s terribly personal and fact-intensive. It’s so important, especially in cases where it’s not possible to have a child who is genetically or biologically yours.

BASF: What skills do you find most important for your practice?

KR: Patience. Attention to detail. The ability to take some distance from the client’s experience and not internalize it beyond a healthy point (that can be really hard in Family Law).

BASF: What advice do you have for law students and lawyers interested in practicing Family Law?

KR: Go on a million informational interviews! It’s a pretty small community, and it can seem somewhat insurmountable to get into. I appreciated the time that practitioners took to meet with me (an unknown law student going to school in North Carolina) when I was still in law school. If nothing else, it helped me to get to know the lawyers actually doing this work on the ground.

BASF: When you are not practicing law, what do you like to do for fun?

KR: I run, I take photos, and I’ve been known to make a pretty spectacular triple chocolate nutella muffin.


Sara Ayazi recently relocated to San Francisco after working as an attorney for the University of Connecticut. She received her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law and her bachelors of arts in sociology from Vassar College.

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