Born in Wisconsin, Kenneth Prochnow was educated at Columbia College and the New York University School of Law. At NYU, he served as the editor-in-chief of the Law Review. After clerking for Judge Leonard Garth (U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit), Mr. Prochnow practiced briefly in New York as an associate with a Wall Street firm before returning to the Midwest. He began his career as a civil litigator with the major Minneapolis litigation firm of Leonard, Street and Deinard.
Mr. Prochnow’s litigation practice as an associate and partner in Minnesota featured exposure to a broad variety of civil litigation, involving issues and cases from substantial securities class action work to commercial and real estate cases. His practice covered jury trials, arbitrations and appeals. Mr. Prochnow’s Minnesota experience was highlighted by his completion of intensive trial lawyer training at a National Institute for Trial Advocacy National Session in Boulder, Colorado.
In 1984, Mr. Prochnow moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. His practice as a Palo Alto trial attorney has included commercial disputes, real estate matters, fraud and investment cases, investment and mutual fund cases, broker-dealer and broker-customer litigation and arbitration, bankruptcy cases, and intellectual property and computer law litigation.
In recent years, Mr. Prochnow has increasingly concentrated his practice in probate litigation. The firm’s contested probate practice in the Probate Departments of our local Superior Courts now includes the representation of estate and trust beneficiaries, and the defense of trustees, administrators and executors, across a wide spectrum of legal and factual circumstances. While the bulk of the firm’s probate practice is in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, the firm associates with estate planning counsel on contested matters throughout the Bay Area.
Probate litigation may include allegations of undue influence or lack of capacity arising in the course of the preparation or execution of a will or declaration of trust, or in amendments or codicils that result in unequal or unfair treatment of beneficiaries. If the case involves a questioned will or codicil, a probate petition alleging the elements of a will contest may be alleged, or defended. Trust challenges, or requests for instruction by trustees, also arise through probate petition. Allegations involving the financial or physical abuse of an elder arise more typically through the filing or defense of a civil complaint. And a will or trust may include a “no-contest” clause, which complicates the determination of whether a will contest or trust challenge may be safely or prudently pursued. See, for example, Safai v. Safai (2008) 164 Cal.App.4th 233 (firm’s argument against application of no-contest clause upheld on appeal).
Kenneth Prochnow continues to practice as a trial lawyer in commercial litigation matters, breach of contract cases, disputes including allegations of fraud or breach of fiduciary duty, and real estate cases. He has been A-V rated by Martindale Hubbell for more than 20 years.