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GENERAL COUNSEL HAVE PLACE TO CALL THEIR OWN Senior general counsel in California now have an association of their own. Until recently, the only association for corporate general counsel in the state was the American Corporate Counsel Association. An international organization open to any attorney working in a corporate counsel’s office, ACCA has 14,000 members working at 97 of the 100 largest companies in America. But four California attorneys thought senior general counsel in the state should have a group focused on their specific needs, and the California General Counsel Forum is the result. The group will provide a forum for attorneys responsible for large legal departments to share management practices, network and discuss leadership issues. It welcomes GCs from the public, private and educational sectors. “ACCA is a terrific organization for serving the in-house legal community, but its focus is on lawyers,” said forum Chairman Thomas McCoy, senior vice president and general counsel for Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in Sunnyvale. “There is no organization that focuses on the position of general counsel, which is quite unique. A general counsel is a lawyer, of course, but also a rabbi, a priest, a counselor, a shoulder to cry on and a minister of war.” Because AMD has many of its legal staff in Texas, McCoy already belongs to the Texas General Counsel Forum. He said the California group will be based on the Texas model. The Texas group, founded in 1997, has 240 members. Organizers expect 10 percent of the approximately 3,000 general counsel in California will join the forum. The first California membership event, a rooftop reception at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles, was Friday. The first event in Northern California is still in the planning stage but will be held in four to six weeks, said forum President Gary Gaston. In addition to the Texas and California branches, there likely will be forum branches in Illinois and the New York tri-state area by the end of the year, said Roland Casta�eda, founder and president of the Texas forum. “When you reach that critical mass there will probably be a call for a national organization.” — Benjamin Temchine PUCK-DRUNK LOVE John Carr might want to think about making his hockey-playing hobby a tax writeoff. Not only is tossing a puck around a great stress reliever, but his teammates also give him insight for his litigation practice. Carr, a partner at Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, devotes his Thursday nights to playing indoor roller hockey with his team, the Asphalt Assault. About half the team members are blue-collar construction workers and contractors who Carr taps for industry tidbits. Carr handles a great deal of construction defects litigation, and he often poses different scenarios to his teammates to get a sense of generally accepted construction practices. “It’s nice to bounce things off of them,” Carr said — and he’s talking about ideas, not pucks. “It’s fun for me because I get to hang around informally with contractors.” Carr played hockey — real hockey, on the ice — while in high school in Philadelphia. But he didn’t start playing as an adult until 1999 when he heard about a parking lot pick-up game in San Ramon. He showed up, asked to play and was accepted. A group of the amateurs formed a team and started playing at the Bladium Sports Club in Alameda on Thursday nights. The game times vary each week but are slotted from 8 p.m. to midnight. “I can work all day, put the kids in bed and have a hall pass to play all night,” Carr said. Despite the sport’s rough reputation, Carr said he sticks to fighting in the courtroom and not in the rink. “I did catch a stick in the nose and got stitches,” Carr said, “but that’s about as tough as it gets.” – Renee Deger PINS AND NEEDLES When thousands of wannabe lawyers deluged the State Bar’s Web site at 6 p.m. on May 23 to find out if they passed the bar exam, the results weren’t there. And many anxious exam takers �� who had been waiting three months for results — didn’t find out if they had passed until after 9 p.m. It was nearly 11 p.m. before the exam results had all of the graphic bells and whistles that made everything look official. Bar spokeswoman Kathleen Beitiks blamed the delay on technical glitches at the Teale Data Center, the state agency that hosts Web sites for the State of California and the State Bar. At 9 p.m., the Bar managed to put up a bare-bones version of the results that appeared in a courier type font. By 10:30 p.m., test takers who logged in saw their test results on a page that resembled the rest of the Bar’s Web site. Beitiks stressed that the online results are a courtesy service, but many now expect to log in and find out their results a day before the news is released to the public. For many law school grads, the three-month wait for test results is excruciating, and a few dozen vented their frustration with the wait by flooding the State Bar with phone calls. Beitiks said most of the callers were polite, but there were a few “nasty” ones. “It was people who were stressed out about the exam anyway,” she said, adding that she sympathized with them. “Waiting a few more hours was more than they could handle.” – Jahna Berry VINDICATION Thirty-six years after Lenny Bruce’s death, a First Amendment lawyer is trying to clear the comedian’s name. Robert Corn-Revere, a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine’s Washington, D.C., office, recently filed a petition asking New York Gov. George Pataki to grant Bruce a posthumous pardon. Following a six-month trial, a court convicted Bruce in 1964 of giving an “indecent performance” at the Cafe � Go Go in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It is the sole conviction standing against Bruce, who was arrested nine times and prosecuted six times for obscenity. In other cases, a San Francisco jury acquitted him, a Los Angeles jury deadlocked, and an Illinois appeals court overturned a conviction. “The law of obscenity was evolving during the 1960s,” Corn-Revere said. “Even under the evolving standards of the time, the conviction was an aberration and shouldn’t have occurred.” Corn-Revere said he didn’t know much about Bruce beyond Dustin Hoffman’s 1974 portrayal in “Lenny” until he read “The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon,” published last year. Authors Ronald Collins, of the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., and David Skover, a professor at Seattle University School of Law, found that contrary to press reports, Bruce’s New York conviction had never been overturned. Only the owner of the club where Bruce performed, who was convicted with Bruce, won an appeal. Corn-Revere, who has worked with Collins on previous cases, said the two of them brainstormed about what they could do and decided to pursue a posthumous pardon. Bruce is credited with transforming stand-up comedy with his satirical style and social criticism. “He became an American cultural icon through his development of a raw, free-form comedic style and his extraordinary ability to recognize and articulate the hypocrisies and paradoxes of our society,” the May 20 petition for Bruce’s pardon states. Numerous comedians, professors and lawyers who represented Bruce in his obscenity trials signed letters of support accompanying the petition. Why take up Bruce’s free-speech battle after so many years? “Particularly at a time now when the United States is trying to instruct the rest of the world on what it means to be a free society, the least we can do is live up to our own founding documents,” Corn-Revere said. It’s necessary to “correct the historical record in this country to make sure people are not convicted of word crimes,” he added. – Brenda Sandburg

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