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Witkin Legal Institute staff

Learn more about the people behind our mission

Practice confidently with our team's full support

Our team of dedicated attorneys and publishing professionals works every day to advance the mission of B.E Witkin and meet the needs of the California legal community.

Directors

John K. Hanft

John began his career as an attorney editor with the Bancroft-Whitney Co. in 1976. In 1981, B.E. Witkin selected him as an original member of the newly created Witkin Department. John was appointed as one of the two directors of the department in 1994, then as one of the two founding directors of the Witkin Legal Institute in 1996. He is the author of Legal Research in California, 7th (Thomson Reuters) and coauthor of Wills, Trusts, and Estates for Legal Assistants 6th (Wolters Kluwer). For more than thirty years, John was an instructor for the San Francisco State University Paralegal Program on the topics of legal research and writing, and wills, trusts, and estate planning. John received a B.A. from Reed College (History), a J.D. from the University of Oregon, and an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University (Taxation). He is a member of the California Bar.

John writes the Civil Appeal, Trusts, and Wills and Probate chapters and is the editor in chief of the Witkin Library.

John R. Wierzbicki

John was an attorney in private practice in San Jose, California, and then a professional legal writer, before joining the Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Co. (now Thomson Reuters)’s editorial department in Rochester, NY. While with Thomson Reuters, he has served as an attorney editor, a legal products manager in the Denver, CO office, manager of the author relationships and contracts department for U.S. legal publications, and editorial director for some of Thomson Reuters' most prestigious U.S. legal publications, including Black's Law Dictionary, American Law Reports, American Jurisprudence, and Corpus Juris Secundum. He was appointed a director of the Witkin Legal Institute in 2018. John also conducts in-person and online workshops on contracts and copyright on behalf of art organizations and colleges in New York, the D.C. area, and California. John received a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley (History), a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and an M.A. from the University of Virginia (History). He is a member of the California and Oregon Bars.

John writes the Civil Trials, Constitutional Law, Contracts, and Taxation chapters and is responsible for Institute's educational activities.

Attorney Editors

James C. Thomas
Jim practiced law in San Francisco before joining the Bancroft-Whitney Co. in 1985. While there, he worked on several legal publications including the California Official Reports and the California Codes. He also served as an editorial manager. In 1990, B.E. Witkin selected him to become a member of the Witkin Department. In 1996, Jim became a founding member of the Witkin Legal Institute. He received a B.A. from Marquette University in journalism (Dean's List), and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. He is a past member of SDX, the Society of Professional Journalists, and is a member of the California Bar.

Jim writes the Actions, Administrative Proceedings, Agency and Employment, Attack on Judgment in Trial Court, Community Property, Equity, Extraordinary Writs, Jurisdiction, and Marriage chapters.

Lisa A. Wenger
Lisa was hired by the Bancroft-Whitney Co. in 1990, where she managed the development of the environmental law module of California Civil Practice. B.E. Witkin then selected her to join the Witkin Department in 1994. In 1996, she became one of the founding members of the Witkin Legal Institute. Lisa began her legal career as a law clerk with the Colorado Supreme Court, and a staff attorney with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeal. She received a B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara (Environmental Studies, with highest honors) and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She is a member of the Colorado Bar.

Lisa writes the Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, Judgment (Civil), Negotiable Instruments, Personal Property, Sales, Secured Transactions in Personal Property, Security Transactions in Real Property, and Real Property chapters.

Sarah B. Pate
Member, West Virginia Bar Before joining the Witkin Legal Institute in 2012, Sarah worked as a legal editor with the Bancroft-Whitney Co. and other publishers. She received her B.A. from Concord University (English and political science, magna cum laude) and her J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law. She went on to clerk for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. She is a member of the West Virginia Bar.

Sarah writes California Evidence, 5th and the Proceedings Without Trial, Pretrial (Criminal), and Workers’ Compensation chapters.

Ronald L. Owens
After more than a decade as a legal writer and editor for another major publishing company, Ron joined Thomson Reuters in 2001, where he worked on Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal decisions and federal case law headnotes. He became a member of the Witkin Legal Institute in 2014. Ron received a B.S. degree from Loyola University of Chicago (psychology), and a J.D. from Berkeley Law. He is a member of the Illinois Bar.

Ron writes the Attorneys, Corporations, Crimes Against Property, Criminal Trial, Defenses (Criminal), Illegally Obtained Evidence, and Partnership chapters.

June Hight
June began her career with Thomson Reuters as an attorney editor for California Trials Digest in 2007, where she quickly became a lead editor on the publication. She became a member of the Witkin Legal Institute in 2017. She has a B.S. from Georgia Institute of Technology (engineering, with highest honors) and a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law (cum laude). She is a member of the California Bar.

June writes the Criminal Appeal, Criminal Judgment, Criminal Writs, Elements (Criminal), Introduction to Crimes, Provisional Remedies, Reversible Error, and Torts chapters.

Sachi A. Clements
Sachi began her legal career as a lawyer in private practice in San Francisco for four years. She then served as a legal editor for another publisher for four years before joining the Witkin Legal Institute in 2018. She received a B.A. from Willamette University (anthropology, cum laude) and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law (magna cum laude). She is a member of the California Bar.

Sachi writes the Crimes Against Governmental Authority, Juvenile Court Law, Pleading, and Sex Offenses and Crimes Against Decency chapters.

Ashley E. Hongisto
Ashley practiced law in San Francisco before becoming a research attorney at the Santa Clara Superior Court in 2016. She joined the Witkin Legal Institute in 2018. She also has worked as a pro bono attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. She received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins in international studies and a J.D. from Hastings College of the Law (cum laude). She is a member of the California Bar.

Ashley writes the Crimes Against the Person, Enforcement of Judgment, Introduction to Criminal Procedure, Jurisdiction and Venue (Criminal), Parent and Child, and Punishment Chapters.

Manuscript Editors

Michael R. Christensen
B.S. Sonoma State University (Business Management)

Dale L. Dickson
B.S. William Jessup University (Business Administration)

Linda I. Glover
B.A. Occidental College (English Literature)

Janet M. Mueller
B.A. University of California, Davis (English Literature)

John Y. Pang
La Salle College (Hong Kong)

Contact the Institute

For questions or comments about the Witkin Library or the Institute's programs, please contact:

John Hanft
(415) 344-5178
john.hanft@tr.com

John Wierzbicki
(415) 344-4931
john.wierzbicki@tr.com

Witkin Legal Institute
50 California Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94111

All or part of the content of this page is © Bernard E. & Alba Witkin Charitable Foundation 2019