John R. Denny has been an attorney for over 25 years, and has practiced family law exclusively since 2003. While he is highly regarded as a skilled litigator, his background and training in mediation and collaborative law permits him to advise clients on every option available when pursuing resolutions through family court.
An active listener, Mr. Denny acquires and maintains a deep understanding of his clients’ goals and concerns, and applies his extensive knowledge of California law to your unique situation. He believes that peaceful settlements usually yield the best and most cost-effective results for clients, but realizes that litigation is sometimes in his clients’ best interests.
As a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS), John has demonstrated a commitment to the highest standards of legal competence in California family law as certified by the State Bar of California.
Highly regarded in the legal community, John has received much recognition. He was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2004, and a Super Lawyer in 2011 and 2012. He has been named a Certified Specialist in Family Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Denny holds membership in the State Bar of California, and in the Orange County Bar Association’s family law and alternative dispute resolution sections. He is a board member of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County (CDSOC), and served as its president in 2010-2011. He has been a board member of Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal) since 2014, and was that group’s president in 2017-2018. He is a member of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), and is a Founding Fellow of the Society of Fellows of the Orange County Bar Foundation.
John graduated cum laude from Loyola Law School in 1994, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif, the St. Thomas More Honor Society, and the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review (1992-1994). Prior to law school, he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (B.A., Economics, 1980).
Working with families in both Collaborative Divorce in Mediation is my life’s work. I am a full-family peacemaker and never go to court on any case.
While most of my legal and mediation career has been based in Los Angeles, due to our children and grandchildren living in La Jolla, in 2012, I am delighted to now have my practice in both Beverly Hills and San Diego. In addition to my appointment at UCLA School of Law since 2002 where I teach Family Law, Mediation, and Peacemaking, I have had the opportunity to teach at two of San Diego’s excellent law schools: Legal Ethics at the University of San Diego and Innovative Law Practice at Cal Western.
• University of California, Riverside AB (Phi Beta Kappa) 1969
• UCLA School of Law, JD 1972
• State Bar of California, Admitted December 1972
• Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California Board of Specialization (1987-Present)
• Member: Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego
• Member: Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association
• Member: Collaborative Practice California
• Member: International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
• Member: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
• Member: American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section
• Member: California State Bar Family Law Section
• Member: American Bar Association Family Law Section
• Member: Los Angeles County Bar Family Law Section
• Member: Southern California Mediation Association
• Academy of Professional Family Mediators, Family Mediation Lifetime Achievement Award (2019)
• California Mediation Association, President’s Award (2017)
• New York Council on Divorce Mediation, Lifetime Career Service Award (2015)
• Super Lawyer in Family Law and Mediation (2005-2019)
• Professor Frank Sander Co-Lecturer, American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section (2009)
• Lawyer as Problem Solver Award, American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section (2004)
• Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovations in Legal Access, American Bar Association Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services (2004)
• Southern California Mediation Association, Peacemaker of the Year (1999)
• Los Angeles County Bar Association, Conflict Prevention Award (1996)
• Beverly Hills Bar President’s Award for contributions to Mediation (1996)
• Chair, International Client Consultation Competition (affiliated with International Bar Association (1989-Present)
• Building a Successful Collaborative Practice (ABA, 2018) by Forrest S. Mosten and Adam Cordover
• Unbundled Legal Services (ABA 2017) by Forrest S. Mosten and Elizabeth Potter Scully
• The Complete Guide to Mediation with Elizabeth Scully, 2nd Edition (ABA, 2015) – by Forrest S. Mosten and Elizabeth Potter Scully
• Mediation Career Guide ( John Wiley, 2001) – by Forrest S. Mosten
• Collaborative Divorce Handbook (John Wiley, 2009) – by Forrest S. Mosten
Collaborative Attorney: I have successfully practiced in the collaborative model since 1998 either with an interdisciplinary team model or working with parties and lawyers only. In every case, I meet with the other lawyer to mutually plan for a successful outcome. I have written two books and many articles on Collaborative Practice, train Collaborative Professionals throughout the country, and am speaker at statewide and national collaborative professional conferences.
Neutral Family Mediator: I have practiced family mediation working with both parties since 1979. I have written three books and numerous articles on the skills and strategy of mediation. I have been credited with developing mediation innovations such as party opening statements, preliminary private planning sessions, mediator settlement proposals, confidential mini-evaluations, and management and design of pre-settlement disputes.
Interdisciplinary Co-Mediation: For over 30 years, I have worked with therapists and financial professionals as co-mediators. I have been trained by therapists in active listening, family systems interventions, child development, high conflict, and discernment counseling. I have facilitated interdisciplinary practice study groups privately and for the Academy of Professional Family Mediators.(my current private group has been going strong for over a decade).
Representation of Clients Participating in Mediation with Another Mediator: Many clients involved in mediation want the advice and support from an experienced family lawyer with collaborative and mediation training and approach. Clients seem to appreciate having me serve as their legal coach to maximize their success at mediation sessions or to attend mediation sessions with them. When we work together this way, you are the captain of our team and my job is to minimize the possibility that your mediation will terminate and you end up in litigation. My 2015 ABA book (Complete Guide to Mediation, 2nd Edition) is a practice guide for lawyers to play this role in mediations. If you want to limit lawyer involvement and fees but still receive my professional help, I am flexible in working out this type of representation for you to take advantage of the many benefits of mediation.
Premarital, Post-marital, and Cohabitation Agreements: Using a collaborative approach, I enjoy helping clients improve their relationships by preventing future conflicts in these important family relationships. In addition to involving the parties to directly communicate with each other, you and your partner may benefit from the involvement of mental health professionals and financial experts to maximize legal and emotional protections for both of you and to minimize fees now and in the future by including dispute resolution provisions in your agreement.
Limited Scope Representation (Unbundling): Legal Advice, Drafting, Negotiation to clients who choose to do much of their own legal work. Over 60% of people with family law concerns resolve their issues without using lawyers at all and often face great challenges in trying to navigate the system and to negotiate with your partner (or lawyer). In 1991, I pioneered a way for you to work with me so that you only pay me for the work that you want me to do and you do the rest. This is called unbundled legal services. My 2017 ABA Book, many articles and my trainings for other lawyers can pay dividends for you if we work together. I would be pleased to discuss with you how unbundling can permit you to maintain control over your life and save you significant money.
I work with people faced with issues regarding property, support, parenting and other family law matters which often involve substantial assets and high conflict. I offer all of my clients an unwavering commitment to provide you informed consent regarding the best process for you to reach a settlement as quickly, privately, and cost- effectively as possible. As part of informed consent, I offer every client a written estimate of the range of fees that you can expect. Most importantly, I am dedicated to work with you and your partner in a respectful and dignified manner that will attempt to avoid harm and maximize future positive relationships in your family.
I promise to work tirelessly for you to keep control over your life and be able to emotionally and financially move on to life’s next chapter. We will be partners in providing your family the opportunity to stay out of court, even when our efforts may be initially rebuffed and possibilities for peaceful resolution may appear remote.
Joe has been managing family law cases for over 37 years and is a founding partner of McGaughey & Spirito in Redondo Beach California. He has continuously maintained an AV rating in Martindale-Hubbell and is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, as well as the National Register’s Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals. He has also been selected by his peers in “The Best Lawyers in America” for the practice area of Family Law.
Joe has served as Chair on the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Family Law Section. Joe has chaired the Family Law Section of the South Bay Bar Association for several years and is Past President of the South Bay Bar Association. Joe is a faculty member of the Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association’s interdisciplinary training programs. He is the Past President of the L.A. Collaborative Family Law Association and a member of CP Cal & IACP. Joe received the 2014 Eureka Award for his excellence in Collaborative Practice. Joe was also Los Angeles County Bar Association Program Chair for the 36th Annual Child Custody Colloquium, as well as a speaker in 2003 at the 35th Annual Family Law Symposium and in 2015 at the 47th Annual Family Law Symposium entitled “The Book of Money”. Joe also was the Chair of the 49th Annual Family Law Symposium entitled “The Art of Presenting Your Case”. At the 50th Annual Family Law Symposium on May 5, 2018, Joe Co-Authored with Alison Spirito “Improving The Mental Health of Children in Divorce”, and also Co-Authored with David Kuroda “Consensual Dispute Resolution – Making Life Better for Judges, Attorneys, and Families”.
Joe is also a founding member and past President of A Better Divorce, a collaborative law divorce group in the South Bay, and has handled over 200 collaborative law cases. In 2001, as Chair of the Family Law Section of the South Bay Bar Association, Joe co-initiated a program with L.A. County Supervising Family Law Judge, Aviva Bobb, utilizing her courtroom to present a program with Pauline Tesler and Nancy Ross. The program introduced the collaborative divorce model to approximately 100 attorneys, judges and mental health professionals in the county.
Joe has served as Judge Pro-Tem and Mediator in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He has also made several appearances as a guest commentator on KNBC Channel 4 with Colleen Williams, as well as being a guest commentator on KPCC-FM, Pasadena, California, and CBC National Television “Air Talk – The Legal Addition”, and been a commentator on American Journal National Television, as well as ABC National radio. He has also been named a Southern California Super Lawyer for 2005 – 2018. Only 5% of the Southern California lawyers are selected for this honor.
In addition, Joe has published numerous articles on collaborative law and authored a chapter in Strategies for Family Law in California, published in 2011, portions of the chapter can be found at:
“Managing New Challenges In California Family Law Disputes.” Inside the Minds: Strategies for Family Law in California, Aspatore Books, a Thomson Reuters publication Author, 2011 Edition.
“Reaching Successful Settlements in Today’s California Family Law Cases.” Inside the Minds: Strategies for Family Law in California, Aspatore Books, a Thomson Reuters publication Author, 2012 Edition.
Joe’s complete CV is available on his website: www.mcgs-law.com and he can be reached by email at email@example.com.