Family Law Attorneys
Kimberly M. Surratt, Attorney
Creating what has come to be known as Surratt Law Practice has been natural for us. It started with a desire to work in a law firm environment that was free from chaos. Then it developed into a desire to give my staff the same quality of life that I strived for. To achieve that goal we realized that our happiness was defined by who our clients were. We had to have clients that we believed in and that we could be proud of the work we produced. If we compromised on that then the entire system would go down. I’m proud of my office. I’m proud of my staff. I’m proud to say that our ethics are never compromised. The dream has come true and we know that the environment we have in our office carries over to the experience that our Client’s have with our office. It is pure and it is honest.
I started my career in insurance defense and then moved into family law. Insurance defense work was not for me although some days I do miss the complexity of learning about a new product for a product liability case or getting to interview numerous miners regarding their mining practices. However, I have a good relationship with family law that is here to stay.
In 2004, during my first couple of months in family law, I took on my first surrogacy matter. It was a thrill. My Clients are still friends of mine and I receive a Christmas card each year with a picture of the two siblings that I helped create. I knew at that point that I wanted a practice that concentrated in family formation. In the mean time, if I was going to continue contested family law matters I knew there had to be a better way for the clients. So, I formed the first meeting ever in Northern Nevada to develop Collaborative Law, an amicable no court divorce method. Within a few short months, we had a large group of professionals trained and we developed a non-profit called Collaborative Professionals of Nevada.
Today, I am a fellow with the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology, American Society of Reproductive Medicine, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBT Bar Association, Nevada Justice Association, and the National Family Law Advisory Council. I have been lobbying with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004. I have lobbied for the passage of the Nevada Domestic Partnership Bill, the Uniform Collaborative Law Act and numerous other family law and adoption statutes. I often speak on LGBT family law, assisted reproductive and parentage matters at conferences such as Lavendar Law and the Family Law Institute for the National LGBT Bar Association and National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys and the Nevada State Bar Family Law Conference.
My dream path for my career in family law has not faltered. I now work with five of the most amazing attorneys I could ever ask for and a staff that makes me smile when I arrive at work every day. My paralegal, Dawn Kaufman, has been by my side every step of the way, which is a sign that I can’t live without her and that the Client’s adore her.
Melissa L. Exline, Attorney
Nothing is more satisfying. Doing divorce and custody work flowed naturally into preparing client’s estate plans. Since 2009, I have been drafting Revocable Living Trusts, Wills, and various Powers of Attorney for financial and health care. This work is now a growing part of my daily practice. It is nice to help client’s plan ahead for their family needs. Working with people in family law and estate planning means I have an opportunity to truly help people. The issues are not “just business” or a simple dispute about money. It is about people’s lives and meeting their needs – and the clients I works with know my work matters. Melissa is married to Nathan Exline (and his family of dedicated Wolf Pack fans) and they have three young children. She enjoys the Disneyland and the great outdoors (i.e. camping in the pop-up, spending time at Lake Tahoe, and skiing with the family).
Rayna Brachmann, Attorney
When I decided to go to law school, like many young, idealistic folks, I was certain that I would be able to use my law degree for lofty goals. I would have an impact, I would change things, I would make the legal system more accessible to more people. My cases would matter! Three years of law school and the crushing debt that came with it made me a little more realistic about my options. I was not in a financial position to work on impact litigation for a non-profit and still afford to pay my bills. I accepted a position with a judge at the Family Court telling her in no uncertain terms that my long term goals did not include practicing family law.
After being reassured that a desire to practice family law was not a pre-requisite to working as a law clerk in the Family Court, I accepted a job with Judge Schumacher. I extended my clerkship for two years and learned a tremendous amount from a thoughtful, articulate, intelligent and skilled jurist. I left the Family Court bound for any area of law other than family law.
I spent two years with a well respected law firm practicing a variety of civil law including development, real estate work and construction defect. The intellectual rigors of the work were very satisfying to me. But something was missing. That something was the feeling that the work I was doing mattered on a personal, human level. So I decided to return to family law. I did so with some hesitation. When I finished my clerkship, I was unsettled about the tone of the dialogue by some members of the family law bar. I was underwhelmed by the aspects of people that I saw highlighted in some of the most contentious family law cases. And I was worried that I would not be able to bridge the gap between the way I wanted to practice law and a way that would be effective for my clients. Despite my concerns, I returned to family law.
I have been licensed to practice family law since 2003 and have exclusively practicing family law since then for all but two years, including my two year clerkship with the Family Court. I never leave the office at the end of the day wondering if the work that I do matters. I know with certainty that it does. It matters to my clients, to their children, and to their extended families. I try to be thoughtful in my approach to cases, always keeping in mind that even though I represent one side of a case, in every instance there is a family at the center of the dispute. Where there are children involved, the family, albeit a post-divorce altered family, will need to cooperate with one another for the benefit of the children. I do not believe that the most effective family lawyer is the one who takes a scorched earth approach. Most of my cases settle. I believe that most cases can and should be settled rather than litigated. I always remind my clients that there are actual costs (higher attorney’s fees) and emotional costs of litigating a family law matter. I have a strong working relationship with many of my colleagues and I always explore settlement options on the front end of my cases because I believe that it is to the benefit of most of my clients most the time.
However, when a case cannot be resolved without a fight, I am a strong, honest, thorough and effective advocate for my clients. I do not hesitate to go to Court if the other party or their counsel is unreasonable in their expectations. I am respected by the Judges because I have demonstrated that I will take reasonable positions on behalf of my clients and I endeavor to never make things worse for my clients.
Family law clients trust us with some of the most personal, stressful and intimate details of their lives. I am respectful of the people who share those details of their lives and I work hard to help my clients get through a difficult and challenging process with good advice and realistic expectations.
I know that even though I do not try issues that end up in headlines or law school textbooks, the work that I do absolutely does make a difference. It makes a difference on a case by case basis for my clients and their children and for that reason, I am happy I ended up practicing family law in Reno, Nevada.
In furtherance of my committment to the practice of family law, I recently became certified as a specialist in family law by the Nevada State Bar. Certified family law specialists must devote at least one third of their practice to family law and attend at least ten hours of continuing education in the area of family law annually.
In 2013 I was elected as a member of the Nevada State Bar Family Law Executive Council. As a member of the Council, I assist with putting together the annual Family Law Conference in Ely, assist with amicus briefs to the Nevada Supreme Court, and serve on the Family Law Specialization subcommittee which drafts and administers the Family Law Specialization exam. It is an honor to be chosen by my colleagues to assist with the administration of the Family Law Section of the Nevada State Bar.
From 2007 through 2013 I was a member of the CASA Foundation Board. I stepped down from that position when I joined the Family Law Executive Council in 2013.
Jason Frierson, Attorney
A first generation attorney, I went to college and law school with the hope that I would be able to help people get the best outcome for themselves and their families. I had always been passionate about helping people and after graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, I was able to further that work when I joined the charter class at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law in 1998.
After clerking at the Nevada Supreme Court for the Honorable Myron E. Leavitt, I began practicing as a civil attorney at a small law firm in Las Vegas. A year later, I became a Deputy Attorney General where I worked to protect victims of white-collar crime as a prosecutor for three years. To broaden my experience and continue fighting for individuals, I then worked as a Chief Deputy Public Defender and enjoyed litigating in court for seven years. During that time, I defended the rights of individuals in numerous jury trials to ensure that they were treated fairly in the judicial system. For the subsequent 2 years, I worked as a Chief Deputy District Attorney in the Child Welfare Division representing the Department of Family Services in the protection of abused and neglected children.
Throughout my years working as an attorney, I recognized the importance of life balance and remained involved in the community by working as a football official with local high school and youth football programs. I also recognized that my personal and professional experiences provided me with a unique perspective in the development of policies impacting families in Nevada.
In 2010, I was elected to the seat of Assemblyman for District 8 in the Nevada Legislature. I served during the 2011 legislative session as a member of the Assembly Committees on Judiciary and Health and Human Services. I also served as Vice Chair of the Assembly Committee on Transportation. I was able to pass Nevada’s Foster Child Bill of Rights, as well as measures to protect citizens from wrongful evictions and improper service of process in the foreclosure process. I was voted the best freshman Assemblyman of the 2011 legislative session in a Las Vegas Review-Journal poll of lawmakers, reporters and lobbyists.
In 2013 after being re-elected, I chaired the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and also served as the Assistant Majority Leader for the Assembly. Amongst other things, I advanced measures to further address Nevada’s foreclosure crisis. I was able to continue working towards the protection of children in the foster care system as well as in schools. My experience in the Legislature is what exposed me to Surratt Law Practice. Together, we were able to take steps to modernize family law in Nevada to make sure our court system kept up with the times.
My background as a civil practitioner, defense attorney and prosecutor have equipped me with the tools to aggressively advocate for my clients when negotiating is not an option. Simply put, I love fighting in court. However, I recognize that court is not always the best place to resolve matters, particularly family matters. Toward that end, my background has allowed me to recognize the value of negotiating for the best possible outcome in a diligent, but compassionate way.
Travis H. Clark, Attorney
Travis has been a long time native of the Reno/Sparks area. After graduating from Edward C. Reed High School in 1999, Travis attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communication Studies. Upon graduation Travis returned to the Reno/Sparks area to begin a career in Marketing. For the next four years he worked diligently as the Marketing Coordinator for a local pet products manufacturer. Desiring more from his professional career, in 2009 Travis made the decision to attend McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, in the fall of 2009. After Graduating at the top of his class in May of 2012, Travis was admitted to the California Bar that same year.
After graduation, Travis clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Stockard and Honorable Robert E. Estes in The Tenth Judicial District Court located in Churchill County. During his time in the Tenth Judicial District, Travis presided as Special Master over Judgment Debtor Examinations and fulfilled the role of Bailiff in all court proceedings gaining exposure to general jurisdiction, Family Law, and criminal law matters. In July of 2013, Travis returned to Reno to clerk for the Honorable N. Patrick Flanagan where he had the unique opportunity to work closely with a renowned Judge of impressive tenure. This experience gave him a unique understanding of the Court system and judicial decision making process.
Travis is a long-time fan of the Star Wars saga, which is apparent to those who know him. Travis works closely with every attorney in Surratt Law Practice, often referring to them as his Jedi Masters. Although in his mid-thirties, Travis was recently named one of Nevada’s Elite Up and Coming Attorneys, and is receiving the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Northern Nevada award from Nevada Legal Services for his pro-bono work. Through his in-court representation of clients to his pro-bono services, Travis provides compassion and understanding for every client going through the rigors of divorce, or through the joys of adding members to their family.
Dawn E. Kaufman
I am Kim Surratt’s paralegal and the office manager of Surratt Law Practice, Reno and Las Vegas offices. I have spent most of my life in the Truckee Meadows. I have been married for over 26 years and we have three adult children. My legal carreer began as a legal assistant/paralegal in 2001 and I then started working with Kim Surratt in 2004. In 2007, I had the privilege of being asked to accompany her when she started Surratt Law Practice. Since 2007, Surratt Law has grown into the wonderful and caring family law office that it is today. I work directly with Kim on ART (Artificial Reproductive Technology) matters and it is a rewarding feeling to assist clients in growing their families and being the “light” at the end of their fertility struggles tunnel. Our attorneys and staff work very hard to provide the best service for our clients. We approach each case individually and craft solutions tailored to meet the needs of our clients.
I am originally from Georgia, but moved to Reno when I was eleven with my parents and brothers (talk about a long, boring drive!). Despite being from the South, I call Reno home and couldn’t imagine living elsewhere. I have been working in Family Law since 2005. I’ve been Rayna Brachmann’s paralegal since 2008, and I’ve been lucky enough to be considered part of the Surratt family since 2010.
I am committed to handling your sensitive family law matter with professionalism and competence. I do my best to ensure that clients are kept up to date on all issues concerning their cases and to assist them in any way possible to make stressful, emotional and confusing situations less so. I look forward to meeting and assisting you.
Tamara is the Office Administrator for Surratt Law Practice. She is experienced in coordinating the ins and outs of our office. She will be your first point of contact upon reaching out to our firm.
I have worked in the legal field since 1994, and exclusively in family law since 2001, when I moved from Florida back home to Reno. I am an active board member of the Sierra Nevada Association of Paralegals (SNAP), as well as a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). I was born and raised in Sparks, Nevada, and graduated from Reed High School in 1991.
I attended Morrison University from 1994-1996, where I graduated with honors with an Associate’s Paralegal degree.
In 2007, I received the nationally recognized Certified Paralegal certificate through NALA, and in 2008, I received my advanced paralegal certification in Trial Practice through NALA.