Managing Attorney for Estate Planning, Southern California, at CunninghamLegal
Conner Clemons has always been a dedicated problem solver.
An adaptive, focused attorney with a knack for tackling even the most challenging issues, Conner Clemons deals entirely with estate planning and living trusts—along with their related tax issues. Indeed, the thornier the tax problem, the more it interests him.
Each day I am striving for my professional brand to be one of dependability, truthfulness, and empathy.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Conner earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English Language and Literature from Central Washington University, then headed straight to Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California—also the alma mater of our founder, Jim Cunningham.
Shortly after earning his Juris Doctor from Whittier, Conner earned his LLM (Master of Law) in Taxation from Loyola Law School.
Integrating Finance and Law
“I always wanted to integrate finance and law,” he says. “And I thought taxation law would be a nice choice. When I did my master’s program, I discovered that the estate tax and property tax aspects of estate planning interested me.”
That expertise lets him help clients plan their estates so they and their families get more out of their hard-earned money.
“Some of our clients have no idea about the tax consequences of passing their assets to their children,” he reports. “It feels great to advise them on these issues, and help them realize how powerful a tool genuine tax planning can be. Many of our clients leave our meetings thinking, ‘Wow, I should have been thinking about my estate plan a long time ago!’”
Conner desires to constantly evolve, grow, and learn. “Each day I am striving for my professional brand to be one of dependability, truthfulness, and empathy,” he says. “I still have room to grow and have to remind myself constantly to strive for these three things. I enjoy practicing—actively staying involved with the profession at all times, because the laws always change, and really, you can never stop learning.”
Many of our clients leave our meetings thinking, ‘Wow, I should have been thinking about my estate plan a long time ago!’
Like other CunninghamLegal attorneys, Conner says he has a soft spot for helping clients who really didn’t understand the importance of estate planning until it was almost too late.
That’s “almost” thanks to Conner and his colleagues. “We have certain clients who delay estate planning until the last moment,” he explains. “People who don’t put together a plan until they are literally on their deathbed. We have gone out of our way to make sure they get a plan in place in those final moments.”
Conner says he had a lot of help along the way, and he feels honor-bound to repay that assistance. “There have been people who have done quite a bit for me in my lifetime,” he explains. “I feel a duty to do the same for my community.”
Toward that end, he has volunteered for Public Counsel, the country’s largest pro-bono law firm, for years. “Starting in law school, I would advocate for folks to receive their means-tested benefits. After law school, I participated in a Public Counsel program to prepare daycare contracts for small, subsidized child-care providers. This year, I started volunteering at the Pasadena Legal Clinic at the Jackie Robinson Community Center.” For those unfamiliar with the Clinic, it’s a free legal service for those experiencing poverty.
In addition to providing legal work to the community, Conner also acts as a role model to some very deserving young people: “I’ve volunteered for SCS Noonan Scholars over the past few years. It’s an organization that helps low-income, high-achieving kids attend college. I have mentored young, first-generation college students and helped guide them to start their professions. There are some remarkable young people in our communities!”
Although hard-working, Conner says he puts as much effort into his own personal evolution as he does into his work. When asked what he values most in life, he says simply, “I always want to better myself. After that, I truly value my spouse. I care about my extended family, and I have my handful of friends that I stay in touch with.”
As a proud citizen who once considered a career in politics, he makes every effort to stay informed and to listen to voices that differ from his, even if he doesn’t agree with them. “I try to do my part to help this country,” he explains. “I stay on top of current events and digest more opinions that I disagree with than those I do.”
That said, there is one thing he absolutely will not tolerate, so don’t even ask. “I despise social media and avoid it however I can.”
Look for Conner Around Town
How does he relax? “I love to spend my free time with my spouse. I like going to restaurants, as well as cooking and reading. I run almost every day as well. And I try to get to the beach once a week, in the summer months at least!”
He’s pretty serious about his restaurants—if you ever need a recommendation, forget Yelp—just ask Conner. “I like Sugarfish and Gyu-Kaku for a date night,” he says. “If I want a quick meal, I go to Little Jewel of New Orleans, Howlin’ Rays, Chick-fil-A, and of course, In-N-Out.”
An avid sports fan, Conner enjoys football—as he readily admits, “I consume the NFL probably to an excessive degree.”
While he played football when he was young, those days are behind him. These days, you’ll find Conner on the golf course.