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Ellen Kaufman Wolf

Partner & Founder | Private Wealth, Real Estate, Estates
Tel: (310) 622-1000 |
vCard | LinkedIn

Ellen Kaufman Wolf is the founder of Wolf Wallenstein, PC, an estate planning, business, real estate and litigation boutique in Los Angeles, comprised of former big firm lawyers who, like Ellen, prefer practicing law in a more personal context.  Ellen’s practice has long focused on litigation in state and federal courts, and now also focuses on estate planning, business, and real estate, with an eye towards effective problem-solving and long- term strategies.


For more than 30 years, Ellen has represented real estate and other companies, large and small.  In commercial matters, she has represented Fortune 100 companies, handling everything from large portfolios of cases to single one-off matters.  

A skilled litigator, Ellen has prevailed on behalf of both institutional and individual clients in numerous disputes before federal and state courts and as part of arbitration and mediation proceedings. She has handled cases involving breach of contract, insurance recovery, torts and mass recoveries involving large-scale litigation, multidistrict, coordinated cases, and class actions.  Other subject areas include land use and real estate disputes, fraud and fraudulent conveyance, partnership and shareholder/co-owner disputes, employment defense, and probate and trusts issues, among others.

As a “trusted advisor” and estate planning attorney, Ellen also has significant experience and an unusually broad overview understanding of the various aspects and needs of private wealth family offices.  Thus, Ellen is trusted by private wealth clients, family offices, and their companies to be the one call to make for legal and practical advice, guidance, negotiation and representation in their estate planning, as well as in business, real estate and operational areas.  

In addition to succession planning, including basic and advanced estate preparation that helps smooth succession and estate tax planning, Ellen often acts as a type of “outside” general counsel to her clients, some of whom Ellen has represented for more than twenty-five years.   Ellen has helped restructure a number of estates and businesses—some of them involving mutli-generational family businesses and asset values up to a half billion dollars—to mutual benefit and the satisfaction of many of the parties. 

Ellen advises her clients’ companies on issues ranging from employment to investors and joint ventures.  Ellen assists with vendor contracts and relations.

In sales and business exits, Ellen has assisted business owners, CEOs and founders in preparing for and navigating the sale/exit process, as well as with employment and consulting agreements, and the family or investor relations and documents that arise with both start-up and exit. In mergers and acquisitions, Ellen has been involved in company sales and financings exceeding half a billion dollars.  

Real estate has also been a focus of Ellen’s throughout her career. Ellen’s real estate clients have included syndicators, developers, property management companies and real estate entrepreneurs, as well as their executives, addressing the myriad issues stemming from the purchase, sale and operation of both multi-family residential and commercial properties. For her real estate clients, she has negotiated and drafted term sheets; letters of intent; purchase and sale agreements; joint venture, partnership and shareholder agreements; private placements; opinion letters; 1031 exchanges; commercial and residential leasing agreements; loans and security agreements, assignments and joinders, operating agreements, convertible warrants, defeasance agreements, licenses, easements, software, website and service agreements, vendor contracts, independent contractor agreements, distributorship agreements, employment and consulting agreements; and landlord/tenant agreements.

Ellen is admitted to practice in California. Prior to founding Wolf Wallenstein, she began her career as an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and was a partner at Gilchrist & Rutter, P.C.

Published Probate Case

  • McMackin v. Ehrheart (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 128 (Creditor’s Claim Extended by Estoppel)

  • 5.0 AV Rating, Martindale-Hubbell (1997-Present)

  • Top Women Attorneys in Southern California, Los Angeles Magazine (2018-2022)

  • Top Rated Attorney, Avvo (2021-2022)

  • Top Attorneys in Southern California, Los Angeles Magazine (2018-2019)

  • Super Lawyer, California Magazine (2009-2018)

  • Legal Leader, Los Angeles Times (2018)

  • Top Rated Litigator, Corporate Counsel & The American Lawyer (2018)

Professional and Community Activities

  • Los Angeles County Bar Association

    • Chair, Remedies Section (2015-2016)

    • President, Executive Committee, Remedies Section (Years)

    • Member, Executive Committee, Remedies Section (2013-Present)

  • Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue

    • President (2007-2011)

    • Board Member (1994-2011)

  • American Business Trial Lawyers Association

  • Financial Lawyers Conference

  • Women Presidents Organization

  • Vistage Worldwide

  • National Association of Women Business Owners



  • Updates Author and Editor, Matthew Bender Practice Guide. California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments, July 2015 - Present

  • Author, "Invalid Assignments, `Innocent` Fraudulent Transfers, and Other Fun Surprises in Post-Judgment Enforcement,” LACBA Remedies Section Newsletter, January 2016

  • Author, "Property of Non-Debtor Spouse and the Presumption of Title,” LACBA Remedies Section Newsletter, January 2016

  • Author, "The Constructive Trust: A Remedy for Collecting After Embezzlement,” LACBA Remedies Section Newsletter, January 2016

  • Author, “Assignments Are Subject to Later Attack – Recent Case Invalidates Enforcement of Assignment,” LACBA Remedies Section Newsletter, April 2014

  • Author, “Discounts for Timely Payments: Unenforceable ‘Penalties’?”, Los Angeles Daily Journal, September 18, 2014

  • Author, “`Pay ‘Or Else` -- When Do Attorney Demands Become Unlawful Extortion? (The Answer is Not So Simple)”, August 2012

  • Author, “Adding A Debtor To The Judgment Under CCP Section 187 – One Way To Stop A Debtor’s Shell Game Before It’s Too Late,” July 2012

  • Author, “Don’t Be Caught Dead – Creditor’s Claims Die Within One Year After Debtor Dies – Or Do They? Do Recent Cases Leave Room for New Practical Suggestions?”, LACBA Remedies Section Newsletter, May 2012

  • Author, "The Post-Judgment Debtor Examination: Details, Details, Details (Plus Secret Liens)", The Practical Lawyer, June 2008


Speaking Engagements:

  • Speaker, “Recent Developments in Remedies and Enforcement of Debts,” Los Angeles County Bar Association, January 2016

  • Speaker, “Recent Developments in Remedies Law,” Cardozo Society, March 2015

  • Presenter, “Mediating the Litigated Case™: Six-Day Course Certificate,” Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, November 2014

  • Presenter, “Collecting from the Dead,” Los Angeles County Bar Association, October 2014

  • Presenter, “Negotiating and Ethics 101: Truth or Consequences”, Los Angeles County Bar Association, June 2014

  • Presenter, “Negotiating 101 – Tips and Tactics for Lawyers,” Continuing Education of the Bar, September 2012

  • Co-Presenter, “Mazirow on Tactics, Techniques and Strategies in Negotiating Real Property Transactions,” Continuing Education of the Bar, March 2012

  • Moderator, “Judgment Enforcement”, Lorman Education Services, July 2011


  • J.D., Stanford University School of Law

  • B.A. in Fine Arts, University of California at Los Angeles (magna cum laude)



  • California



  • Judicial Extern Law Clerk, Hon. Dorothy Wright Nelson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


Beyond the Law

Ellen’s interests include music, particularly playing piano; playing golf and tennis; gardens and nature; photography; and spending time with family and friends.

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