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About me

San Diego attorney Rodney J. (“Rod”) Hatley's path to becoming  an asset protection and estate planning attorney  began with a seven-figure estate tax bill.


His father had been ill for a while before he died. Though Rod knew that his father needed to set up a trust and undertake additional advanced planning to prepare for the eventual passing of his accumulated wealth, by this point his father could not bear with the idea of parting with legal title to the assets he had spent his life amassing. As a result of this lack of preparation, it took Rod and his sister fifteen years of installments to pay off the taxes owed on the money the family spent a lifetime working and sacrificing for.


It was his father’s influence that initially led Rod to practice law. Rod was the first person in his family to attend college and his father wanted him to either go to law school or medical school. His path was chosen by default, since he wasn’t scientifically-inclined and, after getting a BA in Political Science from Rhodes College (formerly Southwestern at Memphis), he got his Juris Doctor at the University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University) Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.


He began his law career working in personal injury litigation and then for the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, first as a Criminal Defense Counsel and Legal Assistance Attorney and then as a Staff Judge Advocate and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. In the early 90s, based on his experience with his father, he decided he wanted to know more about tax law and, just as important, to find out the best way to ensure family wealth wouldn’t be devastated by confiscatory estate taxes and the delays and costs of probate. He pursued a Master of Laws from the University of San Diego School of Law's acclaimed graduate tax program and shifted into asset protection and estate planning.


As for being an asset protection attorney in light of the economic downturn, Rod observes "The Great Recession has been an emotional rollercoaster for our clients.  As asset protection attorneys, the Chhokar Law Group, P.C. represents a great many people facing financial adversity.  Our clients often come to us in a very depressed and disturbed state of mind; many have been sued on personal guarantees for real estate projects that have gone south.  People argue that our clients deserve what is coming to them; that anyone who invests in risky real estate projects should know better; that there is always a direct correlation between risk and return; and those high profiits they were anticipating come at a price.  It can be further argued that it would be immoral or unethical to protect assets at such a late stage and the attorney should turn down the engagement.  Making such arguments as part of an abstract conversation about investing or morals is quite different from facing one of these unfortunate investors across the table and watching their lives tumble around them.  Do you tell prospective clients that they were fools and that they should suffer the repercussions of taking risks or do you help them?  We choose to help because we simply cannot turn down a human being who looks us in the eyes and asks for help.  When we are able to help, we literally manage to salvage a client's life.  They walk into our office in tears and walk out with renewed hope.  They climb off the emotional rollercoaster."


When he isn’t busy with his practice, Rod enjoys scuba diving (he is open water certified) and surfing in San Diego. He is a fan of Mid-Century Modern architecture and volunteers his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego, Inc. and the Rotary Club, where Rod is a Paul Harris Fellow.


Practice areas


  1. Estate Planning: 100%
    29 years, 1 thousand cases



Fixed (always)

Payment types:

Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

5 total 

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  • Michael Charles Doland

    The answers of Mr. Hatley are consistently accurate, analytic and customized to the needs of the Avvo askers. These are exactly the qualities that every client would look for when hiring an attorney.


    Michael Doland Business Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • Matthew Jason Majors

    I have worked together with Rod on several estate planning and business planning cases. Rod is always very professional and responsive, and is dedicated to providing quality client services and representation. Rod is a very experienced and skilled estate planning attorney.


    Matthew Majors Estate planning Attorney
    Relationship: Worked together on matter

Contact info

Chhokar Law Group, P.C.

10935 Vista Sorrento Pkwy.
Ste. 120
San Diego, CA, 92130-2649


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Finalist, Advisor of the Year 2015BNY Mellon Wealth Management2015
Paul Harris FellowRotary International2012
Superb Lawyer RatingAvvo.com2009
Graduate, Masters Program in Advanced Estate PlanningEsperti Peterson Institute2003
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation MedalDepartment of the Navy1995
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation MedalDepartment of the Navy1991
National Defense Service MedalDepartment of the Navy1990
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
Attorney & Counselor at LawHatley Law Group, A P.C.2008 - 2010
AttorneyThe Law Firm of Strazzeri Mancini LLP2002 - 2008
AttorneyLaw Office of Rodney J. Hatley1996 - 2002
Staff Judge Advocate & Special Assistant U.S. AttorneyU.S. Navy JAG Corps (Naval Weapons Center/Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake)1991 - 1995
Officer In ChargeU.S. Navy JAG Corps (NLSO Detachment, NAS Moffett Field)1990 - 1991
Criminal Defense Counsel/Legal Assistance AttorneyU.S. Navy JAG Corps (NLSO, Naval Station Treasure Island)1989 - 1990
Association namePosition nameDuration
ProVisors, San Diego Real Estate Affinity GroupMember2015 - Present
ProVisors, Estate & Succession Planning Affinity GroupMember2014 - Present
ProVisors, Distributors & Manufacturers San Diego Affinity GroupExecutive Committee Member2014 - Present
North County Estate Planning CouncilMember2011 - Present
ProVisors, University Town Center II ChapterMember, Executive Committee2010 - Present
ProVisors, San Diego Lawyers & Legal Professionals Affinity GroupMember2010 - Present
United States Department of Veterans AffairsAccredited Attorney2009 - Present
San Diego County Bar AssociationMember, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section1997 - Present
San Diego County Bar AssociationMember, Taxation Law Section1997 - Present
State Bar of CaliorniaMember1992 - Present
Tennessee Bar AssociationMember1987 - Present
Estate Planning Council of San DiegoMember2007 - 2008
San Diego County Bar AssociationMCLE Co-Chair, Financial Professional Liaison Section2004 - 2009
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
U.S. v. YakosFound Not Guilty of the charge and specifications thereunder.
U.S. v. MurphyFound Not Guilty of the charge and specification thereunder.
U.S. v. HuckabyFound Not Guilty of Violation of the UCMJ, Article 134, but found Guilty of Violation of the UCMJ, Article 128. LT R.J. Hatley, JAGC, USNR, appealed the conviction to the Convening Authority and, on 23 May 1990, secured a dismissal of the charges.
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
Guardian Publishing, LLC publicationFor California Doctors: A Guide to Asset Protection, Tax and Estate Planning (with Christopher R. Jarvis, MBA, David B. Mandell, JD, MBA, and Jason M. O'Dell, CWM)2009
Quantum Press publicationGiving: Philanthropy for Everyone (with Robert A. Esperti, Esq., and Renno L. Peterson, Esq.)2003
Naval Legal Service Office, Naval Station Treasure Island publicationCalifornia Probate Information (with LCDR Jay J. Kessler, JAGC, USN and LNC May S. Fujimoto, USNR; Naval Legal Service Office, Naval Station Treasure Island, San Francisco, California)1990
University of Memphis Law ReviewTorts--Abolition of the Fireman’s Rule in Oregon and What It May Mean for Tennessee--Christensen v. Murphy, 296 Or. 610, 678 P. 2d 1210 (1984)1985
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of San Diego School of LawTaxationLL.M - Master of Laws1996
University of Memphis - Cecil C. Humphreys School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1986
Rhodes CollegePolitical ScienceBA - Bachelor of Arts1983
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Lavine, Lofgren, Morris, and Engelberg, LLP Lunch & LearnThe Future of the Estate Tax/Asset Protection Using Family Bank Trusts2012
San Diego Osteopathic Medical Association Quarterly MeetingRisk Management for the Practicing Physician2011
Living Legacy Financial & Insurance Services PresentationMilitary Spouses Residency Relief Act2010
Puzzled Parents Quarterly MeetingSpecial Needs Trusts2009
Advanced Estate Planning and Asset Protection Techniques in California SeminarCharitable Remainder Trusts2007