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To negotiate one of San Francisco’s most high-profile divorces, the mayor’s wife has chosen a lawyer known for high-end estate planning, family law — and keeping his mouth shut. Former San Francisco prosecutor and current Court TV anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom chose Max Gutierrez Jr., a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Guilfoyle Newsom’s choice became public when she petitioned to dissolve her marriage in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday, two days after she and Mayor Gavin Newsom announced their intentions to split up. Gutierrez enjoys a venerable reputation among local probate and family law practitioners. Jill Hersh of San Francisco’s Hersh Family Law Practice, who’s appeared opposite Gutierrez on many cases, describes him as very smart, with a sense of humor and a lot of integrity. “He handles what we call in the trade ‘high-end divorces’” — those that are either particularly complex or involve large assets, Hersh said. And, she added, “He’s extremely discreet.” Though Gutierrez took a call from The Recorder on Friday, he politely declined to say how he had come upon the assignment, or if he had done work for Guilfoyle Newsom before. “I take my duties of confidentiality very seriously,” he said. “I don’t discuss clients.” Gutierrez also declined to say whether he knows who will represent Gavin Newsom; the mayor’s office did not return a call Friday regarding his choice of legal counsel. A 1959 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law, Gutierrez is well known in both the family law and probate arenas, according to two retired Bay Area jurists. Before he joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Gutierrez spent most of his career at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, where he headed the tax and estate planning group for several years. Among his cases, he represented Deborah Koons Garcia in a probate dispute over the estate of her husband, Grateful Dead singer and guitarist Jerry Garcia. The Newsom divorce is expected to be straightforward. In Guilfoyle Newsom’s filing, she checked off a box citing “irreconcilable differences” and notes that the couple, who have no children, have been married just over three years. She asks the court to determine property rights and restore her name to Kimberly Ann Guilfoyle. Mayor Newsom has 30 days in which to respond to his wife’s divorce filing.

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