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PARTNER’S ILLNESS LEADS TO BIG CHANGES AT FIRM SACRAMENTO — As the firm that he helped found nearly three decades ago goes through a radical change, Kevin Culhane finds himself with mixed emotions. “Any time change occurs you have that [resistance],” Culhane said recently. “On the other hand, I’m energized by it.” Culhane is a partner at 15-lawyer Hansen, Boyd, Culhane & Watson, which does professional malpractice defense, business litigation and transactional work. Although the firm has had its share of comings and goings over the years, this summer it will go through its biggest change yet. Two partners, David Boyd and Lawrence Watson, are spinning off to form their own firms, and the remaining partnership will add new members to become Hansen, Culhane, Kohls, Jones & Sommer. According to Culhane, the shake-up stems from the illness of founding partner Hartley Hansen, who has taken some time off to recover. Hansen’s original partner was Robert Matsui, but when Matsui was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1978, he hooked up with Culhane and Boyd. When Hansen got sick, the partners met to discuss where they wanted to be in “the next 25 years” and came up with the ideas to form new ventures, Culhane said. None of it is the result of any disagreement or business trouble, Culhane said, and rumors that the firm is folding are simply wrong. In fact, he said, the firm just opened up a Roseville office in addition to its downtown Sacramento digs, in order to be closer to business opportunities in the fast-growing suburban area. Culhane expects interaction to continue among the partners, with business referrals going to the most qualified of the three new firms. Culhane would not say what Hansen Boyd’s per-partner profits were, only that they were comparable to the published numbers of similarly situated San Francisco firms. But Culhane did hint that the shake-up might not be finished. “This group has been contacted by headhunters from a couple of national firms. We’re going to engage in those conversations and see where they go,” Culhane said. – Jeff Chorney SWEET SOUNDS While moonlighting as a singer, Shan� Williams has performed at minor league baseball games, charity benefits and the exclusive all-male Bohemian Club. But her most memorable performance was at a small cocktail party with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor two years ago. Williams, who was one of the guests, was asked to sing an impromptu set. “It was awesome,” Williams, an associate in Dechert’s Palo Alto office, said of her conversation with O’Connor. “I hadn’t realized the adversity she faced being a woman in law school.” Williams apparently made an impression on O’Connor as well. When Williams graduated from UC Davis School of Law last year O’Connor sent Williams a copy of her book, “Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest,” with an encouraging message. After law school Williams joined Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, focusing on intellectual property law. When Oppenheimer closed its Silicon Valley office last week, most of the attorneys and staff — including Williams — joined Dechert. Williams, who initially wanted to be a news broadcaster, got attracted to law while taking a civil liberties class in college. But while pursuing a legal career she has continued performing. In law school she was the lead vocalist in the band Pointe Blank, singing funk and rhythm and blues at Sacramento nightclubs. Last month Williams sang at a fund-raiser for Stanford University’s athletic program. She also performed at a benefit for Mercy Ships, which sends crews of doctors, teachers, water engineers and agriculturists to poor countries around the world. While her singing remains a central part of her life, Williams doesn’t plan on making it a full-time job. “It’s always an option in the back of my mind,” she said. “I like stability and am not sure I want to go the starving artist route. And I like being a lawyer.” – Brenda Sandburg CARRYING THE TORCH Jerry Gumpel, a corporate partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, has been involved with the Anti-Defamation League for nearly 23 years. On May 31, he received one of the League’s highest honors: the National Torch of Liberty Award. Gumpel, who served as chairman of the board for the ADL’s San Diego office in the mid-’90s, was one of eight past chairmen to receive the award in a ceremony celebrating the San Diego office’s 25th anniversary. “These are people who have internalized the mission statement of the league,” said Morris Casuto, the San Diego regional director of the ADL. During Gumpel’s stint as chairman, he helped launch a hate-crimes registry program that has since become a model for other ADL offices. A joint venture between the ADL and the local police department, the program trains law enforcement officials to recognize hate crimes and tracks how often such crimes occur within the region. “When we started this we didn’t even have a baseline to see how often people are attacked because they’re Hispanic or black or gay,” said Gumpel, who heads up Sheppard, Mullin’s Mexico practice. “It’s bad enough when somebody gets physically injured. But when it’s a hate crime you really have attacked the whole community,” Gumpel said. According to Casuto, the last time the San Diego office gave out a Torch of Liberty award was five or six years ago. “These are very rare,” Casuto noted. “It is not as if we give out these awards at dinners every single year.” – Alexei Oreskovic SANTA CLARA KUDOS The Santa Clara County Bar Association has been given the Harrison Tweed Award, the American Bar Association’s highest honor for improving access to legal services for the poor. While Silicon Valley, and the lawyers who work there, have had a rough few years, an organization founded by the Santa Clara bar has raised in the neighborhood of $400,000 a year for the last three years, and then distributed it to the seven legal aid agencies in the county. The number of attorneys providing pro bono legal services has also doubled to 1,100. “In 1999 each agency raised its own money,” said James Towery, one of the founders of the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services and former president of the Santa Clara bar. “Most of the agencies were really struggling and were not getting support from the private bar. The per capita giving in Santa Clara was far below similar counties in the state.” With the increase in donations from attorneys, law firms and Silicon Valley companies, Towery said the legal aid organizations have been able to expand services, take on more cases and raise salaries. “The salaries were just ridiculously low. Some of the legal services paid less than $30,000,” said Towery. Richard Konda, director of the Asian Law Alliance in San Jose, said the increase “is not a large percentage [of our budget], but the source is a lot of big law firms, where we had not been successful raising money before.” The Harrison Tweed Award was created in 1956 to reward extraordinary achievement in preserving indigent access to legal services. This is the third time in the last 10 years that a Bay Area bar association has won the prestigious award — San Francisco won it in 1997 and Alameda County in 2000. – Benjamin Temchine

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