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DEBATING THREE STRIKES Contra Costa County senior prosecutor L. Douglas Pipes was recently debating big issues on the small screen. Pipes defended California’s Three Strikes law at a roundtable that aired on CSPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Nov. 5. The high court heard oral arguments about Three Strikes cases on that day. Pipes co-authored one of the amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. He teaches other prosecutors about Three Strikes and has argued such cases before the state appellate and supreme courts. During the 45-minute segment, Pipes faced Ronald Weich, an attorney who’s on the advisory board for Families Against Mandatory Minimums — an anti-Three Strikes group. In front of the camera Pipes sparred ably with Weich and even used questions from viewers who were opposed to Three Strikes to point out the law’s advantages. Weich argued that many Three Strikes defendants become repeat offenders to pay for their drug habit, and prosecutors use the law to charge minor offenses as felonies. “We’re spending millions of dollars to put these people away for the rest of their natural lives,” the lawyer said. Pipes countered that there are checks in the system: Addicts are routed to drug court, and judges can reduce felonies to misdemeanors, he said. Three Strikers have “an imperviousness to deterrence which it would be a folly to ignore,” Pipes said, quoting Appellate Justice William Bedsworth. Pipes became a show guest when Michael Reynolds, the father of a victim who helped inspire the law, couldn’t make it. After the show, Pipes was sworn into the Supreme Court bar, which means that he had a front-row seat for oral argument. His prediction? “A solid five judges” in favor of Three Strikes. – Jahna Berry WATCH WHAT YOU WRITE Last summer’s Frode Jensen press release rocked the legal community. But the tremors reached more than just lawyers. Marketing departments in law firms are especially attuned to the press release’s power and potential liability. So it’s not entirely surprising that the Bay Area chapter of the Legal Marketing Association will host a seminar next week on ethics and legal advertising. Dubbed “AD-Vice and Content: Ethics in Legal Advertising and Solicitation,” the seminar is one of the regular events that the LMA holds every month. The event will focus on the various perils and pitfalls that legal marketers face in getting their message out. Key among these are each state bar’s rules of professional conduct, which impose vague, and sometimes conflicting restrictions on advertising. Marketers are now on their toes about press releases as well. When Latham & Watkins issued a press release trumpeting Jensen as their newest lateral hire last September, Pillsbury Winthrop responded with a press release linking Jensen to sexual harassment allegations, sparking Jensen’s $45 million defamation suit. “I do think that people will be more careful about what they put in a press release because you can see what kind of backlash you can get from putting out an ill-advised press release,” said John Buchanan, acting director of marketing and communications at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. The three panelists speaking at the seminar were Cooper, White & Cooper attorney Mark Tuft, JAMS neutral Jill Fannin and Annine DeCew Madok, director of business development at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. According to Michelle O’Driscole, the president of the LMA’s Bay Area chapter, the group decided it was a good time to explore the rules and ethics that affect legal marketers. “I think our program committee tossed around this idea about a year ago and we decided it was too boring but then with the whole Frode thing we decided it was timely,” said O’Driscole. While the seminars typically draw about 90 people, O’Driscole said she believes the timing and the fact that there’s an MCLE credit available will result in a much larger audience. In fact, the group will even audiotape the event for the first time. – Alexei Oreskovic GOING FOR THE LAUGHS Zoe Conner isn’t a typical legal secretary. After all, not many people can say they opened for Jay Leno. Conner did so several years ago during her career as a stand-up comedian. Now a secretary at Preston Gates & Ellis’s San Francisco office, Conner still devotes part of her life to the stage. She had a starring role as the maid Pauline in the musical “No, No, Nanette,” which completed its run Nov. 2 at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. And earlier this year she was in the musical comedy “Are We Almost There,” which played for six months at Shelton Theatre at Union Square. Conner said she got into stand-up as a way to deal with her divorce from a tax attorney. “I affectionately refer to him as my short form,” she quipped. She performed at comedy clubs like The Improv and Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, and also appeared on Fox TV and cable television shows. But after a five-year stint working full time on the comedy circuit, she returned to the legal world. Headliners like Leno “spent nearly every day taking any gig and working on their craft,” Conner said. “I was never that diligent — although I made a very good middle act.” After getting a master of fine arts degree from the Dallas Theatre Center at Trinity University, Conner went to Los Angeles. Finding it difficult to make a living in the theater, she got a job with a couple of lawyers who encouraged her to pursue show business on the side. She went on to work for now-deceased partner Arthur Groman at Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, who hooked her up with a talent agent at William Morris. She joined Preston Gates four years ago and now works for tax partner James Kleier. Conner said Kleier is a ham himself so the two work well together. “She’s a lot of fun to have around,” said Kleier. “She’s a bit of a performer, plain spoken with co-workers to the most senior attorneys.” The two have added a spark to the firm’s annual Christmas party. Every year the staff, associates and partners put on separate skits making light-hearted fun of those in the other groups. Last year, Kleier performed as a rapper, and Conner played a key role in writing and performing the staff production. Conner is planning to do stand-up work again and is putting together a new routine. Lawyers are likely to provide some fodder. “Any guy who makes $300 an hour but doesn’t take his clothes off, I don’t trust him,” she joked. –Brenda Sandburg WAR STORIES Jeremy Horwitz could be bitter about his career choice. Instead, he’s written a book to help people with similar goals. The 27-year-old penned “Law School Insider” in the months after he was laid off from Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s Irvine office. He had been a first-year associate for all of four months before being cut in February. The Cornell Law School graduate was bummed out, certainly, but he took it in stride and said getting the boot didn’t take away his enthusiasm for practicing law. He put off looking for work as a lawyer and remained in Irvine so he could write a book to help “the next generation.” “A lot of people enter the profession and don’t really know exactly what they’re getting into,” Horwitz said. “My goal was to help people who were thinking about law school determine whether or not the experience is going to be right for them.” His 400-page, self-published tome seeks to reveal to would-be law students exactly what they’re in for from the beginning of the application process through taking the bar exam. He drew from his own experiences and mistakes, and interviewed friends and colleagues. He also gives advice about maintaining relationships with family or significant others during law school. And he has little nuggets of interesting info, such as his belief that students have a better chance of passing the California Bar Exam than passing the Louisiana Bar Exam. While California’s exam is famously difficult, Louisiana’s contains esoteric questions specific to that state, according to Horwitz. In fact, Horwitz has more experience in publishing than as a lawyer. Before earning a master’s degree in business and then attending law school, Horwitz launched a magazine about computer games that he ultimately sold to computer periodical publisher Ziff-Davis Media Inc. Horwitz decided to put his two skills together and make a contribution. “There’s a certain amount of dignity the profession continues to carry,” he said. – Renee Deger

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