James A Hennenhoefer

July 19, 1941August 21, 2017
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It has been said that a man can be measured by the void he leaves when he is gone. In this, as in all his endeavors, Jim Hennenhoefer is without peer. James was preceded in death by his parents Donald and Ruth Marie Hennenhoefer and his son Stephen Eric Hennenhoefer. James is survived by his wife Lea Hennenhoefer; daughters Jacqueline Hennenhoefer Deeds and Heather Hennenhoefer; grandson Micah Young; brothers Richard Hennenhoefer, Gerald Hennenhoefer, Tom Hennenhoefer; and sister Mary Beth Neeley.

James was the first of four sons and one daughter. He entered the world July 19, 1941. Growing up in St. Louis, MO, Jim attended Christian Brothers Military Academy. Throughout his life, he spoke fondly of one elementary school teacher, a nun who encouraged him early on to speak up in class. “I would not be the person I am today without her belief in me and her encouragement.” Jim paid this advice forward countless times as literally hundreds of his family members, friends, and colleagues can attest. Even at the height of his personal and professional success, Jim always found time to provide guidance, advice, and inspiration to those around him. And he did so in such a way that the recipient of his counsel never felt less than or belittled, but rather walked away with confidence and a new perspective.

Continuing at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, Jim joined JROTC, a step which would chart the course of his adult life. He remained active in ROTC while attending University of Missouri. After graduation, Jim entered active duty in June 1963 in the early days of the Vietnam War. Although Jim spoke little about the war years, his accomplishments continued during that time. He rose from a “baby en-swine” to a high leadership position in Naval Intelligence before leaving active duty in 1970. Jim served in the Naval Reserves until he retired in July 2001 with the rank of Commander. Along with gaining fluency in Russian and a love of travel, Jim’s military service experience left him with a lifelong soft spot for fellow members of the service, especially ones negatively impacted by those brutal years. He never missed the chance to offer assistance or an opportunity to his military brethren. Without bringing attention to these personal acts of charity, Jim gave simply because it was the right thing to do.

Hoping to join the U.S. Attorney’s office following active duty, Jim attended Western States University College of Law in San Diego from 1966 through 1970. Upon earning his J.D, he found himself in the middle of a government hiring freeze. With a family to support, Jim found employment as a junior associate at Roden & White, a general practice firm. On one of Jim’s first days in the office, his boss pointed to a pile of dusty files in the corner. “Hennenhoefer, take care of those.” “Those” turned out to be the divorce cases no one else in the office wanted to handle. How like Jim to take the “rejects” and turn them into a professional career filled with achievement.

Jim opened his own practice soon after. During the 46 years Jim practiced family law in San Diego, he earned every accolade and award available on the local, state, national, and international level. The highlights of his Professional Associations, Honors, and Leadership Positions quite literally fill an entire single-spaced page in tiny font. A copy of Jim’s C.V. is included here for reference. During his journey toward success, Jim was joined by his beloved Lea. True soul mates and partners in life and in business, Lea and Jim raised Jackie, Stephen, and Heather Hennenhoefer. Legendary travelers, Jim and Lea explored Bedouin camps in Morocco, Maori on Easter Island, Africa and unique experiences and locations everywhere in between. At home, they spoiled their rescued Shar-pei’s who always recognized Jim as the Alpha.

Not content to rest upon his incredibly impressive professional laurels, Jim continued to seek new challenges and areas of expertise. Along with his dear friend, Gordon Cruse, Jim ventured into the new frontier of ESI (Electronically Stored Information) and taught classes around the country to attorneys and judges alike. In 2016 he was appointed to the California State Bar Judicial Nominees Evaluation Committee (JNE). His work with JNE afforded him the opportunity to interact with attorneys outside the family law world and brought him a new group of friends and admirers.

Throughout his adult life, Jim collected pocket watches. He had an insatiable curiosity about and love of the watches’ intricate workings and history. He became a true expert in this field and shared his encyclopedic knowledge of these precious timepieces with friends, family and other collectors. Jim Hennenhoefer’s memory is more precious than the watches he so loved. The stories of his grand spirit, his larger-than-life presence, and his boundless ability to love will continue to shine and mark the time after his sudden and unexpected death. Perhaps these treasures will help to fill the unfathomable void his passing has left behind.

A memorial mass will be held on September 7th at 11:00 a.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. Location: 1450 South Melrose Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.

In Lieu of Flowers, memorial donations may be made to: 1) AAML Foundation 2) The Boys and Girls Club Vista 3) North County Animal Shelter- The Spirit Fund

EDUCATION: 1959-1963, University of Missouri, B.A. 1966-1970, Western States University, J.D. Admitted to practice 1/71 PROFESSIONAL: 1971 -date Private practice, Family Law, James A. Hennenhoefer, A.P.C. 1981 -date Expert Witness 1990 -date Certified Mediator/Arbitrator 1975 -date Judge (Pro Tem) Superior Court PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers: Fellow American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation Life Member American Academy of Matrimonial Arbitrators Association American Academy of Matrimonial Mediators Association American College of Family Trial Lawyers: Diplomate International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Executive Committee: California State Bar, Family Law Section American Bar Association, Family Law Section California Judicial Council: Family Law Advisor Council of Section Chairs, State Bar of California Academy of Collaborative Professionals PROFESSIONAL CONTINUING EDUCATION: California State Bar Certified Specialist: Family Law Certified Fellow American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Certified Matrimonial Law Arbitrator - AAML Certified Matrimonial Law Mediator - AAML Frequent Lecturer Family Law: CEB and AAML Southern California Institute Frequent National Lecturer on ESI, E-Discovery and Electronic Evidence Graduate of the Georgetown Law Advanced ESI Program; ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ESI Program; and, the E-Discovery and Digital Evidence Conference and Symposium offered by the LawCLE Center HONORS/PROFESSIONAL MANAGERIAL POSITIONS: • “The Best Lawyers in America” (1990-to date) • San Diego Magazine “Top Lawyers”” (2006-to date) • San Diego Magazine "Best Lawyers" (2005-to date) • San Diego Magazine “Super Lawyers” (2008-to date) • Worth Magazine "Top 100 Attorneys" (2005-to date) • Norby Judiciary Award, San Diego County: Attorney of the Year (1999) • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Family Law Person of the Year 1998 • The Bar Association of North San Diego County “Attorney of the Year” 2016 • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers National Officer, Secretary (1997-1999), Vice President (1999-2005) • AAML 1st Vice-President (2006), President Elect (2007), President (2007-2008) • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Chair Marketing/PR Committee (1991-1998) • Diplomate: American College of Family Trial Lawyers • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Fdn. (1995-2005), Treasurer (1999-2002), President (2003- 2005) • Governor, USA, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (1995-2001) • President Southern California Chapter of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (1993) • Education Chair Family Law-California State Bar (1993) • Chair, Family Law Section, State Bar of California (1994-1995) • Chair, Council of Section Chairs, State Bar of California (1996-1997) • Chair, ABA Family Section: Marketing/PR (1993-1994) • Chair, San Diego County Bar Association, Certified Family Law Specialists (1977-1978) • Counsel, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (1998-), USA Governor: (1995-2001) • Master, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Chapter, American Inns of Court Foundation (1997-2002) • Trustee, San Diego County Law Library Foundation (1999-2003) • Family Law Advisor: Judicial Council • Expert Witness: Family Law - Malpractice, California Superior Court • ESI Special Master/Expert Witness • ESI National Lecturer: All phases of Attorney ESI Data Management

MILITARY Commander, USNR (Retired 2001)

ESI Jim Hennenhoefer is a Certified Specialist in Family Law. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a Diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers. Membership in the American College is limited to the top 100 Family Trial Lawyers in the U.S.A. He was selected by Worth Magazine as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in all disciplines in the U.S. In 2010, he was selected by San Diego Magazine as one of the Top 25 Attorneys in San Diego. He is a past National President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He has Chaired the State Bar's Family Law Section and the Council of Section Chairs. He has been listed continuously in Best Lawyers in America since 1990. He is a recognized expert on ESI, E-Discovery and Evidence Issues. In partnership with Gordon Cruse, his presentations on ESI issues have been received with very favorable reviews throughout California and the U.S.A. Jim is a frequent lecturer for: AAML, IAML, The American College in California, California CEB, California Certified Specialists, AICPA, and many more national and California based organizations.


  • Funeral Mass Thursday, September 7, 2017


James A Hennenhoefer

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Carol Rivera

February 8, 2018

Jim literally saved the lives of my disabled twin granddaughters against all odds
He wrote me a beautiful letter after we, won complementing me on my unselfsh desire to care for these child. The letter still hangs on my wall. My husband and I are forever grateful. Carol Rivera

Marilyn Wine

January 15, 2018

We recently heard of Jim's passing and were shocked and saddened. Jim and Lea were landlords and friends in the office I had my law practice. What a great couple!! Lea and Jim were always kind and thoughtful. We are so sorry and extend condolences to Lea. We last saw Jim and Lea from afar in Customs in Brazil. We know they had a fun adventure in South America.
Best wishes
Todd and Marilyn Wine

Jan Garner

October 3, 2017

My deepest sympathies during your time of loss. May the peace which comes from the memories of the love shared, comfort you now and in the months ahead. May the Lord shine upon you and your family in this time of grief.

Peter Mueller

September 18, 2017

I met Jim in'77 while officing across the parking lot betwween us on 3rd and 4th Streets in Escondido. Jim always had the bigger car and more affluent clientele. When my first client opposite Jim [big red Larry from Ramona] told me in confidence he planned to break Jim's legs, I called my warning. Hell with confidentiality. Jim's reply, "They all say that". I knew then the guy was special. We became Vice Presidents of Navy League together then went to bat for Mike Greer during hard times in town. He called in ''92 to say he'd introduced my candidacy with the state bar for grandfather certification status , and stood by me whenever the roof caved in on me time and again. His nationwide gang of great lawyers were always made available to me by his generous referral. My hat's off to your guy, Lea. He died on my son, Peter's 27th and grandson Max's first birthdays. I'll never forget him. For his propinquity in perpetuity, I pray. God Bless. Condolences. Peter Mueller.

Kathryn von Meyer

September 12, 2017

Mr. Hennenhoefer was a giant in the area of family law. I so respected him he is the only boss I could not bring myself to call my his first name; he would say, "Kathy" call me "Jim" and I said "I can't". He also went to a lot of trouble when I got married to help me pick out my husband's wedding present, a watch. Love to his Wife, Lea and his family. A loss to this world and the family law community; locally, nationally, and internationally.

Rose Mechanic

September 11, 2017

James was indeed a wonderful man with great spirits. We had the priviledge of meeting him about 10 years ago, and his vibrant character soon stood out to us. May his kind soul rest in heaven. Our condolensces and prayers to the Hennenhofer family. This indeed was a great loss.

Alex & Rose

Sue Cortellessa

September 8, 2017


My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Jim was larger than life. I will always remember how kind you and Jim were to our young family. He will truly be missed.

Denise Pearsall

September 7, 2017

Dear Lea and Heather:

I am so sorry to hear of Jim's passing and I know that this is a trying time for both of you. You are in my thoughts and prayers daily. If there is anything at all that I can do please let me know.

Love, Denise Pearsall

Deirdre Sims

September 7, 2017

Lea, I am so sorry to hear about Jim. I cannot even imagine how you must feel. I'm saying prayers for you and your family to help you get through this difficult time.

Lori Brown

September 6, 2017

Hi Lea,
I am so sorry to hear about Jim's passing. Richard Ring just told me, and I was shocked. I will say a prayer for you and your family.