I had started out writing my memoir giving fictitious names to some of the main characters. I kept family members' real names. There were a lot of people who only appear on a couple of pages, that I had kept their real names.
At the writer's conference, we were advised to either get permission to use people's real names or change names and places. The person who lead that session writes mostly biography, notably Voices and Silences by James Earl Jones and Penelope Niven, and she recently published a memoir of her own. She wasn't taking questions from the class, but we could write her questions that she will answer by email.
Today I have been doing a series of FIND...REPLACE using WORD. Then when I go back and read the changes, I'm having a hard time remembering who those people are now with the changed names. (Who the heck is Bernard?) What I'm wondering is even if I change all names and all places, anybody who went to high school or college with me, will be able to piece together some of who is who. That's assuming of course that anybody reads it...ROFL. There were only a couple of people that I wasn't nice about. They will recognize themselves, but possibly only a few other people in the world will even care. And since most of it happened 40 - 50 years ago, a lot of the people are dead, or won't remember anyway.
If I get a real publisher, they will have to advise me. If I publish myself, then I would be subject to being sued. That could work in my favor with increased sales...LOL