San Diego divorce attorney Andy Cook of Carmel Valley is a Certified Family Law Specialist, licensed by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization. His practice is limited to family law. He has been running his own practice, which features a full-time associate and a full-time legal assistant, for over a quarter of a century. Furthermore, Andy has received the Peer Review Rating of AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. In addition, he has been recognized for his skill by being voted by his colleagues for the San Diego Business Journal’s 2016 and 2017 Best of the Bar list and being chosen as one of San Diego Magazine’s “2019 Top Lawyers in San Diego”. Most recently, he was named a 2020 San Diego Super Lawyer, a selection process run by Thomson Reuters, and was named a Top Family Lawyer in the “Top Family Lawyers 2022” supplement of the Los Angeles Daily Journal (Feb. 16, 2022).
Andy Cook also served a three year term as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the San Diego County Bar Association, the region’s oldest and largest law related organization (and the second largest in California), having been chosen by an electorate of over 7,000 attorneys in a contested election in 2013 that involved ten candidates competing for four openings.
As that tough 2013 election shows, Andy is known for his unwavering perseverance as well as his durability, dependability, exceptional hard work and strong writing and speaking skills.
PAST JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE
In addition, from 2007-2015, Andy served 39 times as a temporary judge in the Family Support Division of the San Diego County Superior Court (in Departments 42, 43 and 44 in downtown and Department 34 in Vista). From 2010-2014, he also served as a temporary judge 38 times in selected family law departments in the largest court system in the world – the Los Angeles County Superior Court (with his assignments including branches in downtown, Burbank, Compton, Long Beach, Norwalk, Pomona, San Pedro, Santa Monica, Torrance, and Van Nuys). He also served an astonishing 155 times starting in 2007 as a temporary judge in small claims departments in downtown, Kearny Mesa, El Cajon, Vista, and Chula Vista. He also served 79 times as a settlement conference judge for family law matters in downtown San Diego, Chula Vista, Vista, and El Cajon beginning in 2005. Andy has also served as a judge for the Teen Court program featuring sentencing determinations in actual juvenile delinquency situations. In addition, he has served over 30 times as a fee dispute arbitrator for the State of California’s Mandatory Fee Dispute Arbitration program (MFAA) for over 16 years.
The oldest of three brothers and the son of a retired neurologist (Father) and a retired college librarian (Mother), Andy was born November 14, 1962 in Syracuse, N.Y. but grew up from age two onward in the New York City area, mostly in Mendham Twp., N.J., which is a small town 38 miles west of midtown Manhattan.
After graduating in 1984 from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in history, Andy worked full-time in radio broadcasting for six years (with gigs in places such as Middletown, Conn. and Newton, N.J.), before landing in San Diego in 1990 for law school. He then earned his law degree from California Western School of Law (CWSL) in San Diego.
While in law school, Andy Cook was an honors instructor for first year law students. He also was a member of the Traynor Moot Court Team that, among 18 schools, shared first place for brief writing and finished second in oral argument. He also was one of two students chosen from among 25 students to participate in the National Moot Court competition. Andy was also listed in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.”
While in law school and immediately afterward, Andy was a law clerk and then an attorney at three insurance defense law firms. He was also a student intern in the Civil Division at the San Diego City Attorney’s office.
Andy opened his law practice on May 8, 1995. He has had a full-time associate for most of the period from 2007 forward, and he also has a full-time paralegal and additional personnel to help him. In 2001, Andy passed the family law specialist exam and was subsequently certified as a family law specialist by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization.
Andy has spoken to a variety of audiences about legal subjects. In 1999, he chaired a program for Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (CASD) called “Getting Insurance Companies to Say Yes.” He gave a lecture on family law issues to the Young and New Lawyers section of the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA) in 2002. He spoke for the National Business Institute (NBI) in September, 2004 about “Complex Divorce Issues for the California Paralegal” and in October, 2004 about “Handling California Divorce Cases from Start to Finish.” He was a panelist in 2005for NBI for a course called “Divorce Law 101: Obtaining the Best Settlement for Your Client in California.” On October 9, 2007, he spoke before the San Diego Chapter of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants. On November 2, 2007, he moderated a day long panel featuring San Diego County judges called “What Family Court Judges Want You to Know.” On October 17, 2008, he was a panelist in an NBI seminar called “A Roadmap Through Divorce Proceedings”. On March 5, 2009, he was a panelist for HalfMoon Seminars on the issue of Handling Military Issues in Family Law. On September 13, 2010, Andy was a faculty member for an NBI seminar entitled “Advanced Family Law”. On November 17, 2010, he moderated another “What Family Law Judges Want You to Know” seminar, again sponsored by NBI, this time featuring the Hon. Maureen Hallahan, Patricia Garcia, Gonzalo Curiel, William McAdam, Lisa Schall, and Edlene McKenzie. On December 4, 2010, he was a co-presenter of the case law and statutory update at the 28th annual Winter Seminar sponsored by the Certified Family Law Specialists of the SDCBA. On August 14, 2013, he took place in a mock hearing in front of three judges for the benefit of the South County Bar Association. On September 12, 2013, he moderated the SDCBA’s program on Family Law as part of the Judges’ Orientation Program for new attorneys.
On October 31, 2014, Andy once again moderated a seminar for NBI entitled “As Family Court Judges See It: Top Mistakes Attorneys Make in Litigating Divorce” featuring the Hon. Gerald Jessop, Cindy Davis, Michael Groch, Michael Washington, Paula Rosenstein, Pamela Parker, Margo Lewis Hoy, and Pennie McLaughlin.
He hosted a similar seminar on October 30, 2015, once again featuring Judges Jessop, Hoy, and Parker, along with Commissioner James Atkins.
On November 2, 2016, Andy joined Orange County family law specialists Daniel Boehm and Jason Schwartz for a presentation sponsored by the Institute for Paralegal Education called “Divorce Cases From Start to Finish for Paralegals”.
Andy has been a guest speaker on numerous occasions for CWSL’s elective course on starting a law practice. He has also testified in court as an expert witness in legal malpractice as it relates to family law.
Andy also represented the winning spouse in the published appeals case entitled Marriage of Stanton (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 547 [holding that housing benefits for members of the military constitute “income” for purposes of calculating child and spousal support]. Also, he was trial counsel in the 2018 case ultimately decided favorably for his client by the California Court of Appeal — David L. vs. Superior Court (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 359.
Andy has been court appointed to serve as minor’s counsel as well as counsel for paternity defendants, contempt citees and service members protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Andy is also a member of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists. He is a member of the Family Law section of the California Lawyers Association.
Andy was a member of LeTip International from 1997 to 2007 before spending nearly six years as a member of Business Networking International (BNI), including a stint as president of its Golden Triangle chapter, before returning to LeTip in 2013, joining its El Cajon, California chapter and becoming its vice-president that year and serving as president from 2014-2016 and then moving on to LeTip of La Jolla and now serving as its Program Director for a second consecutive year. Also, Andy has been a member of the San Diego Downtown Breakfast Rotary Club since 2013.
Andy was a delegate for the San Diego County Bar Association (“SDCBA”) to the 1999 State Bar Convention. He previously served in the Domestic Violence clinic for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer program and twice received the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services.
Andy has been a member of the SDCBA continuously since 1994 and is a former co-chair of its Young and New Lawyers section and is presently a member of its Family Law and Civil Litigation sections as well as its Ethnic Relations and Diversity, Fee Arbitration, Appellate Court, and Bar History Committees.
Andy was a member of the California Western School of Law Alumni Association’s Board of Directors from 1999 to 2002 and is a member of the school’s prestigious Council of Visitors.
Andy is also a member of the San Diego Family Law Bar Association, the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, CASD, and the Lawyers Club. With CASD, Andy previously served on the Awards Committee that interviewed judges and lawyers to determine the recipients of outstanding lawyer awards. In 1995 and 1997, Andy was a judge for the same Traynor Moot Court competition in which he competed in law school; in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2014 he was a judge for the University of San Diego’s McLennon Honors Tournament; and in 2012 and 2013, he was a judge for the Lynch Appellate Competition at CWSL after also serving as a tournament judge for moot court at CWSL in 2011.
Andy Cook has been married for over 24 years to the former Marcia Gezelter, who grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland (outside of Washington, D.C.) and who, like Andy, graduated from the University of Vermont. She then embarked on a career as a physical therapist that has spanned over three decades, mostly in San Diego but originally in New Orleans. The Cooks, who have lived in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego since 1997, have two daughters, Lilah, 22, who is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and is a new law school student at Pepperdine University; and Jennifer, 19, who is a student at the George Washington University. Both of the younger Cooks are graduates of Torrey Pines High School.
Besides spending time with his family, Andy enjoys travel (having visited 20 countries outside of the United States); sports; commedy; the theatre, working out; reading; trivia; current events; history; relaxing at the beach; and visiting with friends.