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LAWYER’S MILITARY LEGACY LEADS HER TO JAG DUTY Being a military reservist isn’t just war games and target practice. For Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton associate Isabelle Ord, the role of “weekend warrior” isn’t too different from her regular job. As a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General Corps branch, Ord provides legal counsel to a group of several thousand reservists throughout the Southwest. One weekend a month, Ord switches from U.S. Civil Code to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the military’s Administrative Code. “I’m assigned to a unit and become that unit’s lawyer — almost like an in-house counsel position,” Ord said. The job means advising the group commander on everything from environmental issues to soldier misconduct. Wearing a uniform is a natural step for Ord, whose great-great-great-grandfather was Civil War General Edward O.C. Ord, after whom the fort in Monterey is named. Upon earning her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, Ord applied to be a JAG and taught herself military law while working in Sheppard, Mullin’s litigation division. While Ord’s reserve unit has not been called to active duty for the war in Iraq, she’s had to give briefings and legal advice to soldiers and family members of other units that have been activated. A couple of months ago, Ord said, it was so busy she was doing JAG work every weekend and numerous evenings after work. But as Ord explained, “It’s almost the least you can do when you see what some of these other people are doing.” — Alexei Oreskovic PENNY PINCHERS When San Francisco PD Jeff Adachi told his bosses that cost-cutting jeopardized his constitutional mandate, the Board of Supervisors expanded his budget. When Santa Clara PD Jose Villarreal — threatened with laying off 24 of his 120 attorneys — made the same pitch, his Board of Supervisors didn’t seem quite as convinced. Instead, the Santa Clara board authorized a survey to determine if it would be most cost-effective to outsource misdemeanor indigent defense to the Legal Aid Society or other private attorneys. Board of Supervisors policy aide Aimee Escobar said the idea is simply to make sure the county is getting the best value for the dollar it can. “We want to make sure that keeping it in-house is as cost-effective as outsourcing,” Escobar said. “The hope is to reduce the public defender’s [budget reduction] target by proving it’s cost-effective to keep that service in-house.” Villarreal, who has been asked to cut 13.5 percent of his $33 million budget, said he welcomes the board’s survey. “Without question, at this point in time, there is a possibility we may withdraw from some cases,” Villarreal said. “[The county] better have its act together.” Villarreal said the county will find the PD is the best buy in town. “At the very end, we will be able to succeed in impressing upon the board that we can do the job.” — Shannon Lafferty PAINFULLY HONEST “Two bitches from hell and a short, fat guy wish to announce the formation of Powers Phillips,” wrote a small Colorado law firm in its 1991 announcement. Since then, the firm has gained notoriety for its unusual approach to marketing, including a Web site that is the antithesis of the solemn, polished sites most law firms operate. The firm describes itself as composed of lawyers from the “two major strains of the profession, those who litigate and those who wouldn’t be caught dead in a courtroom.” And rather than sing its own praises, the firm adds, “Litigation lawyers are the type who will lie, cheat and steal to win . . . and are the reason all lawyers are held in such low esteem by the public. Powers Phillips is pleased to report that only three of its lawyers . . . are litigation lawyers, and only one of them is a man.” James Powers, the author of the firm’s humor, said the Web site has received mostly positive responses. “Our tongue-in-cheek announcement got a lot of favorable responses and two or three unfavorable responses — which egged us on. So we started a newsletter and had a lot of fun with that,” he said. The Web site, at www.ppbfh.com, includes the newsletter — “The Bitches From Hell Reporter” — and sections such as “Agonized Clients,” “Suspicious Awards” and “Practice (?) Areas.” Powers said the firm gets a lot of e-mail from lawyers wondering if it’s for real. “And female lawyers write 80 percent of them, usually saying they would like us to open up a satellite office [near them],” he added. That’s because the firm, comprising mostly women, advertises its gender makeup thus: “Powers Phillips is somewhat peculiar in that six of its lawyers are, to put it most politely, uppity women, who through various shenanigans and underhanded schemes control the firm.” But opening a satellite location isn’t going to happen anytime soon. From his office in rural Colorado, Powers explained, “Somehow we’re too lazy to get around to it.” – Jason Dearen FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s fifth- and sixth-year associates got management’s full attention last month. In a two-day session, about 60 associates met with Orrick’s top partners who shared success tips and also gave them a peek at the firm’s finances. Held at the Omni Hotel, the meeting was the first event Orrick has organized exclusively for mid- and senior-level associates. “The program was designed to address things they should be thinking about at this stage of development,” said John MacKerron, Orrick’s managing director for offices. Associates said the event was surprisingly informative. “These kinds of sessions can be a little amorphous,” said Nancy Harris, a litigation associate. But this program was “pretty concrete.” In one session, executive committee member Lynne Hermle explained what qualities the firm looks for in partner candidates. “They want to see associates who show they can take criticism well and turn it into a positive perspective, or take leadership in cases, or manage people well,” Harris said. “They’re not looking for people competing with other associates.” Associates also appreciated getting a detailed account of the firm’s financial situation. A session on law firm economics turned out to be lighthearted, corporate associate Scott Porter said. While Chief Operating Officer Douglas Benson provided information on profits per partner, Porter said associates were probing for other details, such as the range of partners’ pay and how compensation is decided. Associates said another highlight of the meeting was spending time with their peers around the country, sharing common concerns and experiences. The program ended with a question and answer session led by Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr., MacKerron and two other managers. “There were some very thoughtful questions about what it means to be partner, what it takes, how to balance things,” MacKerron said. “It was a very human interchange.” One associate asked them what they were thinking when they were in their fifth year of practice. While Baxter said he was focused on becoming a partner, MacKerron responded that he was thinking, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” MacKerron ended up leaving Orrick for five years to teach at the University of Toledo College of Law. “We’re at a level in our careers where people are deciding whether we want to do this,” Porter said. “It’s the time for people to prioritize their lives.” — Brenda Sandburg BAY VIEW It took a bit of nagging by his associates, but James DiBoise finally acquiesced to moving his practice to San Francisco. DiBoise, a Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner, officially opened up a litigation group at One Market last month. DiBoise has worked from the firm’s Palo Alto headquarters since joining the firm in 1981. But he admits an office in San Francisco was an enticing prospect — and not just because of the panoramic view of the Bay from his office on the 33rd floor. Wilson’s growth plans have called for litigation teams to set up in its satellite offices, but DiBoise is the first among Wilson’s litigators to leave the mother ship. “We want to put litigation into our branches and increase the litigation presence and our attractiveness to clients outside of Silicon Valley,” he said. Litigation partners David Berger and Elizabeth Saunders and a team of 13 associates also relocated to the San Francisco office. DiBoise and his group got a taste of working in the city last summer when they set up shop there temporarily to work on a case out of Santa Rosa. Since then, DiBoise said his associates — many of whom live in San Francisco — have been after him to take the plunge. The move has already paid off in new work. DiBoise bagged a litigation defense matter for a new client who was sued in San Francisco. “We could have done the work from Palo Alto,” DiBoise said, “but being in the city made a difference.” – Renee Deger

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