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HELPING THE U.N., ONE DOLLAR AT A TIME When the Bush administration announced last year that it was cutting the U.S.’s $34 million contribution to the United Nations Population Fund, attorney Lois Abraham was appalled. Abraham sent e-mails to 40 other lawyers around the country asking them to contribute money to the U.N. agency. What started out as a chain letter grew into a national campaign to get 34 million people to donate at least $1 each. Abraham, an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association, hooked up with Jane Roberts, a teacher from Redlands who had independently started her own fund-raising effort, to form the 34 Million Friends Campaign. To date they have raised close to $1.4 million. “It has been an absolutely amazing experience to sit at the UNFPA offices in Washington, D.C., and open boxes and boxes of letters,” Abraham said. “There are very heartfelt messages saying, ‘We want to do this; this is important.’” The U.N. Population Fund provides information and services for family planning and reproductive health. Last July, the Bush administration asserted that some of those funds were going to Chinese agencies that coerced women into abortion or involuntary sterilization. A U.S. fact-finding mission to China concluded that the U.N. Population Fund did not knowingly support such programs and recommended that the United States continue to fund the agency. Abraham, who retired from Phoenix-based Brown & Bain’s Silicon Valley outpost before it closed in 1999, said the campaign has shown that individuals can make a difference. “One should not fall into the habit of saying ‘I can’t do anything about something,’” she said. — Brenda Sandburg NO LAPTOPS ON THE CHAIRLIFTS With offices in New York, Sydney and London, Pillsbury Winthrop lawyers have their choice of top-shelf cities to call home. But Pillsbury employment attorney Thomas Makris’ Lake Tahoe office easily qualifies as one of the firm’s most desirable locations. Pillsbury doesn’t actually have a Lake Tahoe office — at least not yet. Makris, who previously worked out of Pillsbury’s Sacramento office, has been telecommuting from Tahoe for the past six weeks. “I am uniquely lucky,” says Makris, who has outfitted his mountain home-office with DSL and a wireless computer network. Pillsbury and the employment law group have been “incredibly supportive of my effort at trying my hand at being a mobile lawyer.” Makris, who holds the position of counsel at Pillsbury, decided to make the move after his wife, who began studying to become a doctor at age 37, finished her residency and landed a job at a Tahoe family practice. With most of his clients in the Bay Area, Makris still spends about half of his time “down the hill.” “If we’re working on a big brief, I may spend a couple days in one of the offices. When I come down I try to group client meetings and spend two or three days at a time,” he explains. Of course, it’s likely that clients may want to come visit Makris’ new work facilities, especially once the ski season begins. — Alexei Oreskovic WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FELLOW GCS Thomas McCoy was lucky he had people to help him maneuver as he rose among the ranks of in-house lawyers. Now McCoy, general counsel of Advanced Micro Devices Inc., wants to make himself available to others through a new organization for top-ranking in-house lawyers. McCoy and the handful of co-founders of the California General Counsel Forum were stumping for new members in Palo Alto on Friday with a reception at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. The event drew the likes of Nancy Heinen, GC of Apple Computer Inc., and LSI Logic Corp.’s GC, David Pursel. They said they support the organization’s goal of becoming an educational network for senior in-house lawyers. The brainchild of two lawyers in the Los Angeles county counsel’s office, including County Counsel Lloyd “Bill” Pellman, the California GC Forum has had one other membership meeting, in Southern California. Since launching this spring, the group has grown to more than 30 members, and Gary Gaston, president of the group, said they’re seeing a steady steam of newcomers. Gaston also said the group has struck a partnership with Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics to study methods of inculcating strong ethical values in the workplace. McCoy, chairman of the organization, said he wants other general counsel to benefit from his experiences managing an in-house legal department. “There’s no place to learn how to do that other than from people who have done it,” McCoy said. “I just want to make sure I do in my generation what the generation before me did for me.” — Renee Deger PARIS: THE HOT NEW TRAVEL SPOT Christopher Mesnooh is on a one-man peace mission in the Bay Area trying to convince his clients that the coast is clear for Americans to travel to Paris. It’s been a tougher task, however, to convince his French clients that it’s safe for them to travel here, said Mesnooh, a Hughes Hubbard & Reed partner based in Paris. Europeans have taken quite seriously the anti-French backlash that followed the opening of the war in Iraq, he said. Average Americans may dismiss as comical the notion of renaming french fries “freedom fries,” or mourn the loss of good wine when restaurateurs dump French appellations, but the average French citizen is frightened, he said. “There was no French equivalent of what we saw going on in the U.S. in terms of political backlash,” Mesnooh said. Mesnooh has worked in Paris for the past 15 years, practicing local law on behalf of U.S. companies with dealings in France. He spent last week in the Bay Area preparing for a lecture series he will give in November at Stanford Law School on the European climate for technology companies. He was also meeting with clients like Santa Clara-based Network Associates Inc. to check out the local deal environment and pass the word that Americans aren’t likely to be stoned if they travel to Paris. “The French had really seen this as a political dispute,” he said. “And it was not something that should be brought into the economic domain.” – Renee Deger

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