• The Premier High-End Certified Family Law Specialist further specializing in Men’s Rights.
• Owner-operator of the Largest Exclusive Family Law Firm in Northern Nevada with a staff of 10 powerful ladies.
• Married, raising a baby, her two teenagers, and her 4th husband.
• High profile with celebrity status from her snarky TV commercials, community service, being board president of the local charity NYEP.org while always being funny with her blunt and truthful humor.
• Owning her 4th home and her own commercial office building.
After 3 years of working for other law firms, including two very elite Beverly Hills family law firms to the movie stars, Marilyn started her own Reno firm in 2001 with just one part-time employee. Today, her firm has 4 attorneys, 3 paralegals, and 3 business staff employees, and is the largest exclusive family law firm in Northern Nevada and the only Men’s Rights firm in the state.
Marilyn chose her career because of her passion for families, children, and relationships. Marilyn focuses on representing men because they are crucial to the upbringing of children and yet they are disadvantaged, disfavored, and under-represented in family court. However, Marilyn may be more well known for her off-color sense of humor and edgy
advertising. In fact, Marilyn has received national attention for her ads, was featured in the Hollywood box office movie “Divorce Inc.”, made an appearance on the Comedy Central show Tosh.O for a web redemption, and had the fun honor of being filmed for a reality television show with Bravo. Although that show wasn’t ultimately picked up, the experience was a thrilling one and not something most people ever get.
Marilyn’s personal life is as scandalous as her advertising. She married her fourth husband in 2015 and gave birth to her third child just in 2017. She likes to call her personal life a “work-study”. No one knows the world of divorce and family law from the inside out better than Marilyn.
Marilyn believes the way for people to be happy and fulfilled in life is to be genuine, know their faults, own those mistakes and flaws, and even embrace them. Many would agree that one of Marilyn’s most controversial qualities is her crass sense of humor and potty mouth and yet she embraces her dark side and doesn’t apologize for it. In fact, she attributes much of her success to what she likes to call “owning her shit” and thinks others should do the same. In our present world overrun with scripted “reality TV”, Hollywood politicians, plastic people who are half embalmed to avoid aging, catfish internet profiles, fast food, fake tans and an obsession with being “PC”, Marilyn credits her success to being none of the above (except for the fake boobs, of course). Despite her dark humor, it might surprise people to know, especially women, that everyday Marilyn wakes up with a knowing intent and plan to make the world a better place because of her direct action and work that day.
For more of Marilyn’s unique perspective, you can find her bi-monthly column. “Ask Marilyn”, in the Reno Gazette Journal where she answers questions on Family Law with some interesting digressions.
Additionally, Marilyn is a regular public speaker at local schools, organizations, and events. Her TedX talk video has millions of views.
Marilyn is also deeply passionate about community involvement and local charity efforts. She devotes significant time to both in regularly doing pro-bono and reduced fee legal work as well as donating tens of thousands of dollars to local charities personally as well through her law firm. Marilyn serves as board president of Nevada Youth Empowerment Project (NYEP), a local community living program that houses and helps otherwise homeless girls ages 18-23 become self-supporting. She has been working with NYEP since 2011 and is deeply passionate about their mission and the documented success that this program has. Additionally, Marilyn serves as the board president of Truckee Meadows Housing Solutions, a local charity devoted to the development of local affordable and low-income housing. For more information about these charities please go to http://nyep.org/ and https://truckeemeadowshousingsolutions.org/
Other local charities that Marilyn regularly gives to, supports and admires include:
Lexie’s Gift, a local clothing donation charity that provides beautiful clothing and accessories to underprivileged young adults for prom, special events, and everyday life. Recently, Lexie’s Gift has partnered with NYEP as one of their community closet locations and we are overjoyed. https://www.lexiesgift.com/
Nevada Humane Society. Brittany Cooper, one of our superstar attorneys at the firm is the board president of this incredible charity. https://nevadahumanesociety.org/
Marilyn’s rescue dog, Eeyore, came from this unique and special dog rescue. https://res-que.rescuegroups.org/
Solace Tree – a crucial local charity helping children deal with the catastrophic loss of a loved one. This charity is very near and dear to Marilyn’s heart as her former spouse passed away in 2014, leaving their son behind and the Solace Tree was crucial in helping her child grieve. http://www.solacetree.org/
Marilyn began practicing law in California in 1998 and passed both the California and Nevada Bar tests the first time (Nevada in 1999). She graduated a year early from Reno High School and after 4 years at UNR Reno. She finished law school at Southwestern Law School in L.A. in just two years, allowing her to become an attorney at only 22 years old. For more history on Marilyn York, and her Nevada roots….
This is Marilyn’s roots and early history as written by Ray York, proud father and ‘stage mother’ to Marilyn, and the one who knows her the best.
In 1913 Great Grandfather, Joe York, somewhat of a pioneer, moved his York family from drought-stricken Oklahoma to Fallon, Nevada. This was well before Lahontan Reservoir was built in 1915 and before Fallon became the “Oasis of Nevada” from irrigation. Joe and his wife, Mary, raised eight children in Fallon during hard times. He farmed and hunted to feed the family. Joe was reportedly a stern and mean father. Son, James, had become tired of beatings and went out into the world on his own at the young age of 15.
James, who many years later would become Marilyn’s grandfather, milked cows for a dairy farmer to put himself through high school in Fallon. After graduating from high school, he moved to San Francisco for seven years where he became a butcher. He also married and his first son, Jimmy Joe, was born there. In 1936 mean old Joe died at 72 and James moved his new family back to Fallon and bought the old farm from his mother during the Great Depression. After farming and milking cows for others for a few years, he started York’s Dairy, the first Grade “A” dairy in the area. James sold the dairy and started York’s Meat in 1945. York’s Meat is still operating at the original York Lane location. York Lane was named after Joe York. After James sold York Meat’s he began buying and fixing rental properties and eventually owned 32 rentals known as York Rentals. Unlike Joe, James was a kind and gentle man who was active in the Fallon Elks and popular with everyone.
Ray, James’s second son, who many years later would become Marilyn’s father, was born in Fallon in 1941, a month before Pearl Harbor was attacked. At that time, James was still running his dairy and sold most of the milk to the local Naval Air Station during World War II. As Ray learned farming, slaughtering, and meat cutting, he became fascinated by machinery. After Ray graduated from Churchill County High School in Fallon, he went to the University of Nevada Reno for a short time and then followed his older brother, Jimmy Joe, to West Point.
After three years at West Point, however, Ray decided to leave Army life and became a mechanical engineer by graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia. Ray was a restless engineer and determined to find another destiny. After moving from Fallon to New York to Pennsylvania to Virginia to California to Ohio to Florida to California and finally back to Reno, he settled into multiple businesses. After becoming a West Point cadet, an engineer for G.E. and other companies, a full-time flight instructor, a flight school owner, a real estate salesman, an owner of a craft paint business and statuary retail, wholesale and manufacturing business, his main business became wood plaque manufacturing for the trophy and award industry. Meanwhile, he had acquired a Sparks warehouse and a Reno office building where Marilyn grew her family law practice for the first several years.
In 1966, Ray married Elaine while in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as part of the marriage contract, they soon moved west (to San Jose, California). Ray worked as an engineer for several years and began flight instructing in small Cessna airplanes. After arriving in San Jose, Elaine earned her master’s degree from San Jose State and taught business education at Mountain View High School for a few years. Elaine stopped working to become a full-time mom and their first child, Steven, was born in 1973 after Ray had become a full-time flight school owner and instructor at the San Jose International Airport.
Elaine wanted a girl next and studied up on improving the odds by charting body temperature and picking the best side of ovulation. One afternoon she called Ray at the airport and said to stay out of the air and come home – it was time to make a baby girl. Marilyn must have been conceived from a wild seed that day because she would soon cause notice by kicking. While Elaine was in labor, Marilyn kicked herself partway off the placenta and was born blue because of so much blood loss. The panicky doctors soon transfused her with some more blood that must have also been “Wild”. This tiny baby girl’s destiny was to not go unnoticed.
Elaine and Ray couldn’t decide on a girl’s name and finally, Elaine gave the job to Ray. Ray picked “Marilyn” as a special name but now jokes that he should have named her Jane, Matilda, or something calmer. When Marilyn was six months old, Ray said to Elaine “she sure doesn’t have much character” (while comparing her to 2-year-old Steven). Ray soon ate those words and has been eating them ever since.
At 1 to 2 years old, it was apparent Marilyn wasn’t a follower – she wouldn’t participate well in groups like “diaper gym” and swimming lessons. At a young 5, she started kindergarten still trying to be a non-participant. She preferred to lie down on the floor and go to sleep. Her kindergarten teacher and Elaine thought it might be better to hold her back a year. Ray decided Marilyn deserved a chance. Oddly enough, this was a defining moment for Marilyn who would go on to graduate from Reno High School at 16, graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno with a B.A. in English with a Writing Option and a minor in Speech Communications at 20, celebrate her 21st birthday in law school and graduate as a lawyer while still 22.
Marilyn and brother Steven literally grew up in the family businesses. The family work ethic training began with piecework for money at 4 years old earning virtually all their own spending money from then on. Half of their first money was saved for a used piano so they could take lessons. While young friends and peers were bored at home or roaming the streets, Marilyn was at the statuary shop working and playing on weekends and during summer vacations. However, many swimming lessons, piano lessons, sports, and classes were arranged by Elaine to break up the routines. So, Marilyn grew up very busy and stimulated, rarely encountering boredom and never having anything to do. Being around Dad so much helped develop her argumentative skills and by sixth grade, she had shifted some of her argumentative talents to her poor teacher. He tried very hard to mold and control Marilyn with little effect.
Marilyn was a strong-willed child and it soon became apparent that others needed to accept and allow her ways or let the contests begin. Ray and Elaine were disciplining parents but generally received equal punishment for any given to Marilyn. On the other hand, she was overly sensitive as a child, and years of insensitivity training and teasing with light to moderate ridicule by her father and brother toughened her up. Perhaps it was merely destiny and not environment that allows Marilyn as an adult to be extremely sensitive or extremely tough depending on circumstances.
Discipline and self-discipline were strong York family traits passed on to Marilyn. Born into a house without sugar snacks, she was 5 years old and in kindergarten before discovering such things. Although the York house always had some open alcohol in the cupboard – the levels never seemed to change. At 21 years old, she discovered that she was very allergic to it. While Marilyn was 11, she announced to the family that she was going to become an attorney when she grew up. Her dad watched a lot of L.A. Law and asked her if it was because she saw it on TV. She said she never watched it and couldn’t explain why she had made her decision. About 30 years before this, her cousin, Gerald York, also about the age of 11 had announced to older first cousin Ray (Marilyn’s father) that he was going to become a dentist and a $1 bet was waged. Years later Ray had to pay $1 to Gerald and he began practicing dentistry in Reno in 1968.
When Marilyn’s family moved from San Jose, CA to Reno, she was 13 and was told if she tried drugs she would be moved to Fallon until she was out of High School. Either the harmful effects of drugs or visions of living in Fallon kept her drug free. She even ran with some “colorful” friends but had enough self-worth and intelligence to never smoke, drink, or do drugs. One of her avocations that came from it all has been “designated driver.”
Marilyn has always had a fascination with argumentation and human relationships. At 1 to 2 years old she began talking and arguing with her family. At 5 years old her argumentation skills were taken on the road to kindergarten. Her 6th-grade teacher was a pretty good adversary and her skills were honed more. Her first year of Reno High School debate at 16 was a resounding success. Her wonderful debate teacher, Mrs. V. told her dad that Marilyn was amazingly good for a beginner. Her dad told Mrs. V. that Marilyn had been debating for about 14 years and was quite experienced. At 16, debate seemed to be a great turning point for Marilyn – a coming out of sorts or a rite of passage. Marilyn exuded aggressiveness and assertiveness in debate and one of her male opponents said “she is vicious.” These overt changes in Marilyn ratified her earlier decision to be a lawyer. It had become obvious her career choice fit her personality, interests, and intelligence.
On her 16th birthday, Marilyn became a licensed driver and drove her first car that she bought with earnings from her work at the family businesses. Some of the money also came from her used piano that was sold. Soon thereafter she got personalized license plates:
While a senior in high school, she left the family job for a real law job – “runner” or “gofer” for a Reno attorney. She soon advanced to secretarial and receptionist tasks. At 17 years old and while a full-time student at the University of Nevada, Reno, she took a University special weekend series of classes to become a paralegal. She received a certificate of completion and was soon working part-time as the youngest paralegal in Reno. She loved her work and was certain that becoming an attorney was right for her.
Always the one in a hurry to grow up, she selected the only two-year program in the country to become an attorney from an accredited school of law – Southwestern University School’s SCALE Program. The Program was very selective with only about 45 students starting each year. Marilyn was selected for admission by six law schools including the SCALE Program and started the SCALE Program at 20 years old. The program was nearly straight through with little time off and was very accelerated, yet practical. Her last two months at school was an internship with a well-known, highly respected, high profile family law attorney, Norm Dolin. This law firm specialized in high-end family law clients, particularly those in the movie industry. She was hired full time after her internship. While working full time she studied for the California Bar exam and took extra classes on weekends to help her. She passed the exam the first time, which occurs about half of the time.
A year later she took the Nevada Bar exam but was working so much she had little time to study. Even so, she also passed that bar on her first attempt and became licensed in Nevada as well as in California at the age of 23. Her mom and dad always thought she was smart but got through Law School mostly from hard work. After passing the Nevada Bar on her first try from memory from 12 months before, it was obvious that daughter Marilyn was extremely intelligent.
Marilyn liked a lot of things that L.A. had to offer such as the fast pace and the excitement of being around the movie industry. However, after working there for a couple of years, the Reno lifestyle and her family in Reno lured her back.
Just as Marilyn was a natural for becoming a lawyer and her fascination for relationships made it natural that she became a family law specialist, she was also a natural for running her own practice. Grandpa James and her dad were fiercely independent and were in their own businesses virtually all of their lives. Marilyn seems to have inherited the hard work ethic, the need for independence and motivation to please people at any cost to herself.
Marilyn loves her specialty, family law, and is fascinated by it. She has had quite a variety of interesting and unusual cases with many hearings in courtrooms, which she also loves. She takes only family law clients and even then she further specializes in Men’s Rights. The reason she likes to help men is that even though most Nevada laws as written do not discriminate against men, in practice the courts often seem to favor women in their decisions. Many times it takes great effort and much courtroom debate at hearings to insure men are treated fairly in child custody, visitation, and support issues. Marilyn enjoys these challenges and feels especially good after helping fathers and children restore relationships. She thinks fathers are extremely important to child development and notices that fathers can be very creative and effective in sharing indoor and outdoor experiences with their children. Most people will agree that generally, children are better off with a mom and a dad. In the modern era of a high percentage of split marriages and complicated post relationships, it is still important that each child continues to enjoy a relationship with his or her father. It is very rewarding to Marilyn when her efforts and ability can create a better circumstance for children by helping their fathers.
Marilyn has been happily married, happily divorced, and happily re-married. She loves children and has a daughter and two sons of her own. Many children of clients are brought by for a visit, which Marilyn finds very enjoyable.
Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment (or in the field of law maybe from “a bad judgment”). When seeking counsel, an old adage is to find someone youthful with lots of experience. In a father’s humble opinion, Marilyn will always be: Youthful with lots of experience.
Marilyn is Ms. Personality with so much material and charisma that she could be a stand-up comedian;
A quick study, easily seeing through people’s masks and bravado;
Quick-witted as in funny as well as in intelligence (she is very effective in court because of such quick thinking and immediately being able to say just the right things);
Tough as steel under adversity;
Capable of beating the devil in a debate;
Tenderly compassionate and one who encourages people;
Dedicated to a fault – often going the last mile without food or rest, and then going another mile.
Marilyn has been taught “THE MASTER FORMULA FOR GETTING WHAT YOU WANT” which follows in case you would like a little more success in your life:
YOU MAY HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT, PROVIDED THAT YOU:
1. Know precisely what you want (have a specific realistic goal).
2. Want it intensely.
3. Relentlessly pursue it with confidence and expectation.
4. Be willing to pay full price (although the full price is often not required).
If you ask any man if he understands a woman, you will probably hear the word “no”. Marilyn’s dad says he does not understand Marilyn or other women, but that he seems to understand what makes them happy like when they get presents or have extra money for trips to the mall. Part of Marilyn’s mystique is that she is so complicated and so full of surprises in good ways. Although it appears impossible to understand or predict Marilyn, it is definitely a fun and rewarding experience to know her. People who meet Marilyn seldom forget her.