Tim Birnie retired from the practice in March 2013. He had been practicing family law and estate planning in Sebastopol, California for 40 years. Over the past 20 years, he worked to advance mediation as an alternative to litigated divorce proceedings and became one of the most respected family law mediators in the area. In 1980, Tim became interested in mediation based on his firm belief that divorce did not need to be an adversarial process that devastated parties both emotionally and financially. At the time, mediation was a relatively new concept in family law and he was one of the first in Sonoma County and California to attend trainings and workshops in the field. Tim attended numerous training programs through the Center for Mediation in the Law and completed a two-year intensive mediation internship. Over the next several years, Tim refined his mediation style and began to share what he had learned with others. In the late 1980s, Tim taught Mediation/ Arbitration/ Negotiation at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. Tim has also taught mediation at Sonoma State University, JFK Graduate School of Psychology and presented at the American Psychiatric Convention. As a former chair of the Sonoma County Bar Association, Family Law Committee, Tim has prepared and presented several programs for local family law attorneys about mediation. Tim was also the co-founder and Board member of the Northern California Council of Mediators.
Always an active member of the Sebastopol community, Tim has served as a board member for the several non-profit organizations including the Sebastopol Area Senior Center, Adopt-a-Nursing Home, and Restorative Resources, an alternative program for the juvenile justice system.
Tim Birnie graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law School in 1970. Following law school, Tim briefly practiced in Lake County before discovering the beauty and culture of west Sonoma County. In 1973, Tim Birnie opened his solo law practice in Sebastopol. Prior to attending law school, Tim Birnie earned a degree in Mathematics and NCAA All-American swimming honors at Southern Methodist University. Tim has put his swimming skills to use as a coach for the Analy High School Swim team and the Sebastopol Sea Serpent swim club. In 2012, Tim was inducted into the Masters Swimming Hall of Fame.