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LAWYER LEAVES MEAN STREETS FOR MEAN HALLWAYS Robert Byrnes has given up life in the fast lane for the quiet of law firm halls. For years, Byrnes split his work week between poring over legal documents and racing through the streets of Los Angeles as a bike messenger. But about six weeks ago he decided to work full time as a lawyer. Being a bike messenger “was becoming punishing,” Byrnes said. “I wanted to stop while I still liked it — and was still living.” An associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, Byrnes has been a bike messenger on and off for the last decade. He got his first gig after getting a master’s degree from Harvard University. But he soon left the streets to take a job as speechwriter for then-Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. Byrnes subsequently went to Stanford Law School and then joined Quinn Emanuel. Looking for a change of pace, he took a leave of absence to write a book with fellow Quinn Emanuel associate Jaime Marquart. Published last year, “Brush With the Law” recounts their wild experiences as law students at Harvard Law School and Stanford, respectively. Their tell-all tale of drinking, drugs and sex garnered the two a fair amount of media attention — and enough income to take time off. Byrnes said he wasn’t excited about going back to legal work exclusively so he asked Quinn Emanuel Chairman John Quinn if he could be both a lawyer and bike messenger. “They complement each other,” Byrnes said. “One is slow, rational, inside and the other is fast, passionate, outdoors.” Byrnes, 38, initially did messenger work for the firm and then started his own company — L.A. Bike Messenger Co-op — which consists of five principles. He credits Quinn Emanuel for being receptive to things that might seem odd. Quinn not only supported Byrnes’ dual life, he also joined him on one of his deliveries. “He has the same intensity as a biker that he does as a trial lawyer,” Byrnes said. Quinn said Byrnes reflects the unique character of Quinn Emanuel. “There’s room for all kinds of different people,” he said. “What matters is how good the work is.” While Byrnes is no longer weaving in and out of traffic, he’s still a member of the biking scene. He plans to compete in bike messenger races, including the world championship in Seattle this summer. And he still hangs out with his old crowd. “I still roll in every Monday morning and sit on the corner with them,” he said. While other people dread the start of the week, “they are excited about Monday morning and the rush of the work.” “I feel that way about coming to the firm now,” he said. “I enjoy being in here more than ever.” Brenda Sandburg TRY, TRY AGAIN The committee charged with finding a use for Hastings College of the Law’s property at Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street has unveiled a new plan. The original plan, for a large parking garage, was scrapped when state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton wrote a letter threatening to pull the school’s state funding if it didn’t come up with a different plan. The latest is a joint effort with the YMCA for a mixed-use project — an athletic/fitness center with a pool, gymnasium, outdoor plaza and a 50,000-square-foot community space. The rest of the property would provide housing for 20 to 40 students, a ground-floor retail facility and parking for about 450 cars, including a City CarShare pod and bicycle storage. In return for the new facilities, the YMCA would develop its existing Golden Gate Avenue building into about 100 affordable housing units. “Now the blue ribbon committee will make a recommendation to the board, and if they approve it, will look into the plan’s economically feasibility,” said David Seward, Hastings’ chief financial officer. “The goal is to submit something to the board at their September meeting.” The other plan presented at last week’s meeting would provide housing for about 110 students, retail space and parking for about 500-600 cars. “We’re committed to working with everyone in the community to work through issues and to come up with an outcome that benefits everyone,” said Seward. – Jason Dearen LOUD-MOUTHED LAWYERS Bay Area Greedy Associates may have to clean up their act. The storied message board is running afoul of language limits imposed by the company that hosts the Internet-based party line. Not wanting to be told what to say or how to say it, a contingent of Greedy Associate posters moved their monikers to a new company and started up another message board. Within days, however, the company shut down the new message board and flashed a message that postings had violated the company’s terms of use. Whether the problem was foul language, a poster’s sexually explicit instruction to another poster, or something far more mundane is unclear. But it wouldn’t be the first time a message board sponsor had a problem with the content in Greedy Associates’ postings. The posters, who claim to be associates at Bay Area law firms, regularly flame one another over opinions or comments in the postings, and some of the criticism is quite colorful. Some of the things posters were writing about firms or people could also be libelous, said a spokesman for FindLaw, a legal portal owned by West Group that has hosted the Greedy Associate message board for the past few years. “Firms, users and our own concerns about things happening without consistent enforcement caused us to take a look at how the terms of use are being administered,” said spokesman Kyle Christensen. The longtime practice of entrusting volunteers to delete objectionable posts was ended, and company employees have begun perusing the boards, deleting messages that fail to comply with company guidelines, Christensen said. “People are just looking for the Internet to grow up,” Christensen added. Some of the more vocal GA posters aren’t happy about the way the company shifted gears without prior notice. A poster known as C2ed, who has acted as a volunteer administrator for the Silicon Valley GA message board, said her fellow posters were largely troubled by the company’s sudden shift and lack of prior notice. “The policies themselves are not that horrible,” C2ed said. “It’s a board of lawyers, and you just can’t tell lawyers rules. You have to give a reason.” The poster known as Sidd Finch was characteristically more to the point. “It smacks of a corporate move,” said Sidd Finch. “I think the folks who made this change had no idea how fast people could jump.” Sidd Finch said he is heartened that the GAs are trying to hang together to keep the messages moving. “This was Internet time,” Sidd Finch said. “It’s interesting that people actually cared about having a community where they could talk openly and freely.” – Renee Deger SCARY WIERDO, YES. TERRORIST, NO. For an example of the difficulty in finding a clear legal definition of “terrorism,” McGeorge School of Law Professor Michael Malloy looked no further than the arrest of Courtney Love. Police picked up the grunge queen at London’s Heathrow Airport last month; she was accused of disruptive behavior aboard an airliner. Malloy mentioned Love during his keynote lunch address on the second day of a two-day symposium recently held at McGeorge. Called “Bordering on Terror,” the conference brought panelists from all over the world to discuss terrorism and its effects on law, business and homeland security. It would be silly for anyone to suggest that Love should be charged with terrorism for her antics aboard the flight, Malloy said — she apparently didn’t want to sit down and buckle up when ordered to by flight attendants. Yet Malloy pointed out that a strict interpretation of one definition of terrorist activity contained in the USA Patriot Act, among other places, would allow her to be charged. In fact, the act actually contains a couple of different definitions of “terrorism” — and that, Malloy said, combined with less-than-clear definitions in other domestic and international codes, is going to cause problems for those prosecuting and defending alleged terrorism cases. Malloy said it’s up to law professors and other academics to contribute their thoughts because they’re the ones who will lead students “in forays to understand competing definitions” of terrorism. To ignore the debate would be “dangerous,” he added. Near the end, Malloy brought up a more sober example, that of a dissident in China who was recently found guilty of espionage and “terrorism” for political activities. – Jeff Chorney

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