Zatopa&Stephens : Our Staff
Zatopa & Siegel, Attorneys at Law
Michael A. Zatopa
Michael graduated Cum Laude from the University of San Francisco in 1975, and from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1978. Michael was admitted to the California and Federal bars in 1978. Michael was a California special education hearing officer from 1979 to 1982. Michael entered private practice in San Francisco in 1982, and since that time has represented and assisted thousands of parents of disabled and special needs children and adults with developmental disabilities, in identifying the nature of their children's disabilities and appropriate services they need, and obtaining public provision and/or financial support for those services. Michael has also provided legal counsel to many residential treatment facilities, private special education schools, and other private social service providers who are funded, licensed or regulated by public agencies.

Michael has lectured at San Francisco State University, and California State University at Fresno, contributed to several books in the area of special education law, and written numerous articles in his field. Michael has been a certified trainer in the field of juvenile justice. Michael has also been board president for two non-profit corporations in the field of child welfare, and a board member of an educational non-profit corporation.

Email: mike@zatopastephens.com



Ellen C. Stephens
Ellen graduated from the University of San Francisco, School of Nursing in 1976 with a B.S. in Nursing and a Public Health Certificate, and was licensed to practice nursing that same year. Over the next 10 years, Ellen worked for the University of California - San Francisco, the Visiting Nurses Association, and St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco, developing a specialty in Oncology. Ellen graduated from New College School of Law in San Francisco, and was admitted to practice law in California in 1988. Ellen spent several years working as a risk manager in the field of medical and health care risk management. In 1990, Ellen became an associate attorney with the firm of Glynn & Harvey, specializing in medical malpractice defense. Since 1994, Ellen has been a practicing attorney in the field of special education. Mr. Zatopa and Ms. Stephens are also married, and have two teenage boys.

Email: ellen@zatopastephens.com


Laurene Bresnick
Laurene graduated from University of California-San Diego in 1984 and from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1987. Laurene began practicing law in San Francisco in 1987 representing businesses and their owners in both transactional and litigation matters. Throughout her practice, Laurene also provided pro bono child advocacy services through several local nonprofits. In 1999, Laurene took a seven-year hiatus from the law to raise her two children. Upon her return to the profession, Laurene decided to pursue her passion in child advocacy and began representing parents and their children in special education matters for the Community Alliance for Special Education (C.A.S.E.) In 2007, she joined the firm of Zatopa & Stephens to continue assisting children and their parents in identifying and accessing special education and other services.

Email: laurene@zatopastephens.com

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