James Reape works in the Santa Clarita office of the three-office Reape-Rickett Law Firm, which he co-founded in 1998. As a family law attorney for high-net-worth individuals, Reape has represented a diverse range of professionals including business owners, professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, dentists, corporate executives and celebrities.
How has the pandemic changed your firm?
It caused a significant investment in upgrading and expanding all things tech. This has allowed lawyers and many staff persons to work remotely as effectively as they had been when appearing in person at the office. It has sped up the concept of being paperless. The courts have implemented use of telephonic and video appearances that saves us commute time and for us to develop our skills to change over to a video hearing, including the examination of witnesses and introduction into evidence of exhibits.
How has it affected your clientele?
Clients have become more technically savvy and have taken well to having telephonic or video meetings.
What’s your favorite part of being an attorney?
I help people transition through often difficult and challenging times.
What will change in the post-pandemic market for legal services?
Hopefully our embracing remote work will continue. Since the comment is aspirational, I see more and more patterns the court will require in-person appearances.
What qualities in your personality make you a good lawyer?
The ability to listen and actually hear what is being said. Years in the family law arena allows me to tap into prior experiences and notice that people act in predictable patterns. Clients are often amazed that I “know” their spouse without having ever personally meeting them.
What is the most funny, unusual or memorable experience in your law career?
I did a same-sex dissolution before the law allowed for same-sex marriage. During the period of separation, one of the parties transited genders which made us appear at trial with two female clients and a very puzzled judge.
What are your favorite out-of-office activities?
Reading literature and a healthy dose of pleasure such as the Reacher series. … If I had more time, it would be playing guitar, painting and photography.
If you could change one legal rule or practice, what would it be?
In the area of family law, it would be the misuse of domestic violence applications, often including a restraining order issued without any notice to the restrained party that the application is even made and subsequently the limited court time available to actually put on a defense.