John W. Prokey

Partner

Education

Santa Clara University, B.S. cum laude, 1994
Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D. cum laude, 1999

John’s law practice focuses on providing advice in wealth planning, estate and trust administration, and tax. His clients include individuals, private fiduciaries, institutions, and other business and non-profit entities. The wealth planning portion of John’s law practice emphasizes advising individuals and fiduciaries in estate planning, wealth preservation, tax, and business matters. John also advises fiduciaries and beneficiaries in trust and probate administration matters, with emphasis in complex administrations. John’s law practice includes representing taxpayers in all levels of federal tax controversy, including IRS examination and Appeals, and before the U.S. Tax Court. Clients, their families, and other practitioners rely on John for dispute resolution in these arenas, including serving as a mediator.

John is a Fellow of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He is also a member of the California Lawyers Association. He served on the Trusts and Estates Section Executive Committee and the Taxation Section Executive Committee of the California State Bar; and also served as Chair (2004-2005) of the Taxation Section’s Estate and Gift Tax Sub-Committee. John is a member of the Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, and American Bar Associations.

John is a frequent lecturer and guest speaker at numerous seminars and conferences throughout California and elsewhere, and is an author on various tax and estate planning topics. Speaking engagements include the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, Jerry A. Kasner Estate Planning Symposium, AICPA Advanced Estate Planning Conference, CalCPA Advanced Estate Planning Institute, Annual Estate Planning Symposium, Tax and Update Planning Conference, the San Diego Tax and Estate Planning Forum, the Hawaii Tax Institute, CEB/UCLA Estate Planning Conference, Continuing Education of the Bar Estate Planning and Administration, San Francisco, San Mateo County, and Silicon Valley Bar Associations, East Bay, Orange County, Sacramento, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, and Stanislaus County Estate Planning Councils, CPE Forum of the Central Coast,  East Bay Trust & Estates Lawyers Seminar, and Paralegal Association of Santa Clara County.

John received his Baccalaureate of Science degree from Santa Clara University in 1994 and his Juris Doctor degree from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1999, graduating cum laude in both undergraduate and law school studies.


Dennis I. Leonard
Partner

Education

University of San Francisco, B.A., 1995
University of Houston Law Center, J.D., 1999
University of Houston Law Center, LL.M., 2003

Dennis Leonard joined the firm as an associate in 2005 and became a partner in January of 2015. His practice emphasizes sophisticated estate and tax planning for high net worth individuals, tax controversies and litigation, and advising trustees and private fiduciaries.

Prior to joining the firm, Dennis began his career at Arthur Andersen, focusing on federal tax controversies, mergers and acquisitions, and business tax planning. Dennis later worked as an in-house tax attorney for the El Paso Corporation, focusing on tax controversies and state and local taxation.

Dennis is a frequent speaker at programs organized by the State Bar of California and the California Society of CPAs. He is licensed to practice in both California and Texas, is a previous member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California’s Taxation Section, and is the former chair of the Estate and Gift Tax Sub-Committee. Dennis is currently a member of the American Bar Association’s Trusts and Estates Section, the Silicon Valley Bar Association, and the Santa Clara County Estate Planning Council.


John F. Ramsbacher
Of Counsel

Education

University of Montana, B.A., 1987
Tulane University School of Law, J.D., 1990

A name partner from 1999 through 2014, John Ramsbacher now acts Of Counsel to the firm, providing experience and expertise in estate and succession planning and tax controversy and litigation. John is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and was a member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California Taxation Section. He previously taught as an adjunct faculty member for the tax master’s degree program at Golden Gate University.


Robert V. Garcia
Of Counsel

Education

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo,
B.A., cum laude, President’s List, 1994
University of California, Los Angeles, J.D., 1999
Golden Gate University, LL.M., with Honors, 2017
(Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law)

Robert V. Garcia joined Ramsbacher Prokey Leonard, LLP as “Of Counsel” in January 2019.  Prior to joining the firm, Robert was an equity shareholder at Damrell, Nelson, Schrimp, Pallios, Pacher & Silva.  He practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, and related litigation.  Robert is a past adjunct lecturer at Humphrey’s College and California State University, Stanislaus, teaching paralegal courses. He has also served as a Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Pro-Tem for traffic and small claims.  Robert has been active in community affairs, having served as President of the Estate Planning Council of Stanislaus County and the Latino Bar Association of Stanislaus County. Robert is fluent in Spanish.

Robert is admitted to practice law in all California Courts and the United States District Court, Eastern District.


David B. Walker
Of Counsel

Education

  • California Western School of Law, 1978, J.D.
  • Stanford University, 1975, B.A. (Communications)

David Walker started practicing law in his native Modesto in 1979. He is a Martindale-Hubbell AV-Preeminent rated attorney who specializes in the areas of Personal Injury, Civil litigation, Real Estate, Construction, and Mediation/Arbitration Services. He has served as a Judge Pro Tem for the Stanislaus County Superior Court and as a Discovery Referee for the Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced County Superior Courts. Mr. Walker received a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University School of Law and has served as a mediator/arbitrator in both private and court-appointed mediations and arbitrations, resolving hundreds of cases over the past twenty years. Mr. Walker is a 2008 graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. In 2009 he also completed the Seven Step Certification Program at the College, one of only a handful of people to have done so.

Mr. Walker has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at University of Pacific McGeorge School of Law teaching Negotiation and Settlements. He also taught the Civil Procedure for the Modesto Junior College paralegal program.

Mr. Walker was a Charter Member of the Modesto Sunrise Rotary and is active in the Stanford Alumni Association. While attending Stanford, Mr. Walker played football for the 1971-72 Pac 10 and Rose Bowl Champions.

Professional Admissions/Qualifications

State Bar of California
Stanislaus County Bar Association
(served as President in 1986)
American Bar Association
Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University School of Law
Member of Stanislaus County Mediation and Arbitration Panel
Trial Lawyers College

Court Admissions

  • U. S. District Court – Eastern District of California
  • U. S. District Court – Northern District of California

Professional Affiliations

  • Stanislaus County Bar Association
  • Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles
  • Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem

Karen A. Meckstroth
Of Counsel

Education

University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1982
University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1991
University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D., 1997

Karen Meckstroth joined the firm as Of Counsel in October 2021. She works closely with individuals and families to achieve their estate and gift tax planning while creating plans that further clients’ personal values. Karen assists high net worth clients to incorporate philanthropy in their wealth planning through planned gifts and private family foundations. She has represented clients on appeal, including the taxpayer in Chen v. Franchise Tax Board, 75 Cal. App. 4th 1110 (1998).

Karen is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law (California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization). She started practicing at Bingham McCutchen (formerly Riordan & McKinzie) in Los Angeles. Prior to joining Ramsbacher Prokey Leonard LLP, Karen chaired the trusts and estates group of a mid-sized Silicon Valley law firm.

A frequent speaker, Karen has given presentations on estate and gift tax planning, charitable planning, modification of irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, and professional ethics. She volunteers on the Trust Administration Subcommittee of the California Lawyer’s Association’s Trusts and Estates Executive Committee. Over the past years, Karen has served on boards of directors of nonprofit organizations, including Notre Dame High School San Jose. Through the Silicon Valley Planned Giving Council’s Incubator Project, she has mentored nonprofit organizations to develop planned giving programs. Karen serves on the planning committee of Stanford University’s Conference on Charitable Giving.


Alison B. Arnold
Associate

Education

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, B.S., 2010
Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 2016

Alison Arnold joined our firm in 2016 as an associate attorney, having previously clerked here for two years while attending Santa Clara University School of Law. She works closely with the partners and staff in all areas of our practice, focusing on business planning, charitable planning, and tax controversy matters.

While in law school, Alison was an associate for the Santa Clara Law Review, Volume 55. In addition, she was the recipient of the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing, denoting the highest grade in her class. Upon her graduation from law school, Alison was inducted into the Order of the Coif.


Brandy L. Barnes
Sr. Associate

Education

University of California, Berkeley
School of Law, J.D., 2014

University of California, Berkeley
B.A., with high honors, 2010

Brandy is an experienced litigation attorney who has practiced and prevailed in state and federal court at the trial and appellate court levels. Her practice focuses on business, trust and estate, and real estate litigation. Clients seeking to resolve their disputes turn to Brandy because of her client-centered approach and proven results.

Brandy also advises business clients in matters related to corporate governance, real property transactions, and sale and lease transactions.  She represents clients in the real estate, alcohol beverage, and airline industries in compliance, negotiations, and resolving potential disputes.   

Brandy is a native of Oakdale, California. She graduated from U.C. Berkeley with high honors in Legal Studies and English Literature and from Berkeley Law with pro bono distinction, representing over 100 clients while in law school.  Prior to joining the firm’s Central Valley office in 2022, she practiced at a boutique law firm specializing in complex civil litigation, including business litigation, real estate litigation, employment litigation, trust and estate disputes, and class and collective actions.  Brandy was recognized by the Northern California Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in Business Litigation in 2021 and 2022.   This distinction is awarded to the top 2.5% of eligible attorneys in California.


Terra Cloutier
Paralegal

Education

San José State University, B.S., 2012
San José State University, Paralegal Certificate, 2013

Terra joined the firm as a legal assistant in 2009. Now a paralegal, she assists the firm’s attorneys and staff in all areas of estate and wealth planning, trust administration, and probate. Terra has held a California real estate salesperson license since 2010, and works closely with the firm’s attorneys on transactions involving sales and leases of real property and property tax planning.

Terra is a California Notary Public and is currently a member of the Paralegal Association of Santa Clara County and the National Association of Legal Assistants.


Michael P. Donohoe
Sr. Associate

Education

Santa Clara University, B.A. magna cum laude, 2006
Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D. cum laude, Order of the Coif, 2011

Mike Donohoe’s practice focuses on working with clients with deep ties to California’s agricultural industry.  As the head of the firm’s Central Valley office, Mike understands his clients’ needs often do not fit within conventional planning techniques.  Mike draws from his expertise and experience with Central Valley clients to craft and implement comprehensive and flexible plans that meet each client’s specific business, estate, tax, and wealth planning goals. He also works closely with clients to assist them with the necessary probate or trust administration following the death of a loved one.

Mike initially joined our firm in 2010, then relocated to Modesto at the end of 2013. Mike rejoined the firm in 2017 as a part of its expansion to the Central Valley. Mike is a member of the California State Bar Sections of Trusts & Estates and Taxation. He regularly presents on trust, estate, and tax issues to his professional colleagues and has been recognized by Northern California Super Lawyers as a Rising Star since 2017. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Sierra Vista Child and Family Services, Stanislaus County’s largest home-grown, non-profit organization. Mike is fluent in Spanish.


Andrea H. Hensler
Certified Legal Assistant and Senior Paralegal

Education

Cañada College, Paralegal Certificate, with highest honors, 1990
Santa Clara University, B.A., 1995
National Association of Legal Assistants, Certified Legal Assistant, 2005

Andrea Hensler joined our firm from another prominent San Jose law firm in 2007. As a Certified Legal Assistant with more than 30 years of experience, she has applied her skills and capabilities to all aspects of the firm’s estate planning, wealth preservation, tax planning, and trust administration practices. Andrea has significant experience drafting and implementing complex estate and tax planning strategies. She also has extensive experience in complex trust administration from death to final distribution, including preparation of gift and estate tax returns, post-mortem allocations, and asset transfer documents.

Andrea has spoken at the Mission Society of Enrolled Agents and the Estate Planning Breakfast Club concerning gift and estate tax preparation, valuation, and complex estate and trust administration. She is currently a member of the Silicon Valley Bar Association, the Paralegal Association of Santa Clara County (PAACCO), and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).


Justin T. Livingston 
Associate

Education

University of Notre Dame, B.A., 2017
University of California, Irvine School of Law, J.D., 2021

Justin T. Livingston joined our firm in 2021 as an associate attorney, having previously clerked here over the summer of 2020 while attending the University of California, Irvine School of Law. As an associate attorney, Justin works primarily in the firm’s developing Modesto office, but collaborates with a number of associates, the firm’s partners, and various staff in handling all areas of our practice, encompassing wealth planning, contingency planning, and business planning.

During law school, Justin served as a Research Fellow, mentoring first year law students in honing their legal research and writing skills. Additionally, Justin argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as part of Appellate Litigation Clinic, received the Faculty Award in the Leadership & Management Seminar for Lawyers, denoting the highest grade in the class, and advanced to the Top 16 of the law school’s 2019-2020 Moot Court Competition before it was cancelled due to the pandemic.


Katherine Kirst
Associate

Education

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.A., 2018 

Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., 2021

Katherine Kirst joined our firm in 2021 as an associate attorney, following two years of clerking with us while attending Santa Clara University School of Law. She works alongside the partners and her fellow attorneys in all areas of estate and wealth planning, business planning, and tax controversy matters. 

Katherine strives to collaborate closely with her clients, ensuring that both their personal values and familial harmony are upheld and balanced alongside their desired estate and wealth planning goals. 

During her time in law school, Katherine served as the Community Outreach Chair for multiple organizations, including Women & Law, the Jewish Law Student Association, and the LGBTQ Advocates. She also worked as a Fellow with the Academic Success Programme, mentoring 1L’s throughout their doctrinal courses. She is fluent in Spanish.


Alison B. Merino
Sr. Associate

Education

University of Notre Dame, B.A., 2007
University of Santa Clara School of Law, J.D. cum laude, 2010

Alison Merino joined our firm as a law clerk in 2008. Now an associate attorney, she works closely with the partners and directly with clients, focusing on high net worth estate and succession planning, inter vivos wealth transfers, trust administration, and tax controversies.

Alison has written and presented papers to the United States Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and the Senate Finance Committee proposing changes to and guidance regarding important gift, estate, and transfer tax laws. She has also authored several tax-related articles: “Section 2036 Estate Controversies of Tenants in Common Interests,” published in Trusts & Estates (October 2011); and “Case Law Update: Three Recent Federal Tax Cases Involving California Taxpayers,” published in California Tax Lawyer (Spring 2011).

Alison is an active member of the California State Bar, serving on the Bar’s Estate and Gift Tax Sub-Committee. She is currently a member of the Santa Clara Estate Planning Counsel.

While earning her J.D. at Santa Clara University, Alison was a technical editor of the Santa Clara Law Review and a participant in the law school’s Honors Moot Court program.


Edward C. Nino
Of Counsel

Education

Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., 1987
Santa Clara University, B.S., 1979
New York University: Hedge Fund Management
New York School of Finance: Investment Management

Edward C. Nino is experienced in litigating cases involving probate estates, trusts, contested wills and trusts, inheritance issues, and disputes between beneficiaries and fiduciaries. Having the right representation can make a difference in these cases and help to resolve personal matters for family members.

Edward represents trustees, executors, and beneficiaries by both litigating and negotiating practical solutions to reduce and resolve family conflicts. He can also help in matters of duress, fraud, or undue influence. Edward’s clients include high net worth individuals with diverse businesses in industries including real estate, biotech, technology, financial services, winery, agribusiness, and entertainment. Edward also represents corporations and other businesses in general civil litigation matters. As part of his representaions, Edward also advises on wealth planning and trust structures to maximize benefits relating to wealth planning goals.

Prior to joining Ramsbacher Prokey Leonard LLP, Edward was a litigation partner at Arata, McConnell, & Nino. His primary focus was, and continues to be, executing legal strategies and litigation related to will and trust disputes.

Early in his legal career, Edward served as a senior trial lawyer with the Santa Clara County Public Defender Office, where he handled complex criminal defense matters including capital murder cases. He handled 1000+ criminal cases, 100+ jury cases, and 200+ bench trials. He was a supervisor of the trial team whose job was to teach younger lawyer trial tactics. He was recognized for the resolution of a Los Gatos cold case homicide, which was featured on 48 Hours and other media outlets.

Edward ’s experience also includes white-collar criminal defense and complex fraud and financial crime cases. He has also represented stockbrokers in class action securities fraud and shareholder lawsuits. Through the years, NPR and other major news outlets have sought his input regarding the Three Strikes Law, jury nullification, and various legal cases.

Edward is an active member of the California State Bar.


Joseph D. Supple
Sr. Associate

Education

Santa Clara University, B.A., 2011
Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., Dean’s List, 2015

Joseph Supple joined our firm in 2015 as an associate attorney, having previously clerked here for two years while attending Santa Clara University School of Law. As an associate attorney, Joseph works in collaboration with the partners and staff handling matters in all areas of our practice, focusing on family wealth planning, business planning, and trust administration.

While obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Joe played four years of Division One baseball, earning a place on the West Coast Conference All Academic Team in 2010 and 2011. During law school Joe was on the Dean’s List and received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Advanced Contracts, denoting the highest grade in the class.