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HAMMER LEADING THE CHARGE FOR HALLINAN District Attorney Terence Hallinan’s chief homicide prosecutor, James Hammer, is front and center in his boss’ re-election bid, endorsing, contributing — and acting as “campaign wife,” according to a playful reference by Hallinan’s campaign manager, Sueanne McNeil, at a fund-raiser Thursday. Hammer, who gained notoriety as lead prosecutor in last year’s dog mauling trial, said he has no formal role in Hallinan’s campaign, noting that he’s plenty busy getting ready for another trial in September. “I do it in my spare time and evenings and whatnot.” Such as last Thursday’s post-work cocktail party, where he tried to lead by example. When Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, master of ceremonies for the evening, urged the crowd to open their wallets, Hammer announced he was writing the first check, and passed it to the front of the crowd. Hammer has said before he might be interested in the DA’s job, but only if his boss weren’t running. “I’m a loyal person,” he said last week. “That’s what my parents have taught me.” — Pam Smith INTEL IP DIRECTOR STARTS OWN PRACTICE After seven years as an in-house lawyer at Intel Corp., Howard Skaist struck out on his own this month. Skaist was most recently director of intellectual property, managing more than 30 attorneys, for the Santa Clara-based chip giant. He said he missed doing patent prosecution work and realized he could earn more as a solo practitioner. “As I became more high level at Intel I got to do less of the work I liked,” Skaist said. “My favorite thing to do is prosecution.” While he’s working alone out of an office in Portland, he is teaming up with Bay Area solos Joseph Siino and Mark Spolyar on certain cases. A former partner at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, Siino launched an IP consulting practice last year. Siino specializes in licensing and transactions while Skaist and Spolyar handle the prosecution side. Skaist and Siino already have a working relationship. The two are teaching a course together on strategic patent licensing at Boalt Hall School of Law. Skaist is also working on a book on drafting patent claims with Pennie & Edmonds partner Scott Stimpson. Before joining Intel, Skaist worked at AT&T Corp. and General Electric Co. and also had a stint at Portland’s Stoel Rives. — Brenda Sandburg PUTTERING AROUND PILLSBURY The sight of potted plants in the middle of the hallways at Pillsbury Winthrop’s Northern Virginia office might have puzzled the casual observer. But to the firm’s summer associates, the oddly placed vegetation, along with mounds of shredded paper, bowls of water and other detritus were an invitation to tee off. The mess was part of an elaborate, 18-hole miniature golf course that Pillsbury’s attorneys and staff constructed earlier this month as a final challenge for the summer associates. “It turned out to be a really good, wacky idea,” says William Atkins, the managing partner of the office. “It certainly was a good way for people to meet.” The course covered several floors, and forced the golfers to adapt to varied terrain that included partners’ offices, a stairwell and the library. And while putters were the only officially sanctioned club, the best contestants found ways to make their putters unleash long drives and awe-inspiring pitches. According to Atkins, the tournament went off without any broken windows. No word yet on whether the fad has spread to other Pillsbury Winthrop offices. – Alexei Oreskovic GETTING BY WITH A LITTLE HELP Two future health workers, an aspiring parole officer and a prospective MBA got special scholarships that help former Contra Costa County criminal defendants. On Friday, the Contra Costa County Bar Association, Friends Outside and Danville’s Gagen, McCoy, McMahon & Armstrong gave the money to four women who have made dramatic progress. The top winner, Annabella Flores, got a $1,500 award from the Gagen, McCoy firm after having received $2,000 last year. Flores, who was once jailed for embezzlement, graduated with honors from Los Medanos College two months ago. She wants to be a county heath worker. “It was only three years ago that I was incarcerated, and that I spoke at my graduation was nothing short of a miracle,” Flores wrote in a letter to one of the sponsor groups. The other winners were Kimeschia Boykin, Carrisa Timbal and Nanette Spencer. Boykin, 23, is a full-time worker, student and mother who was convicted of assault in 1997. She has since earned her diploma and is studying at Contra Costa College to be a parole officer. Timbal, 24, is a single mother who was involved with gangs as a teenager. Since then she has enrolled at Heald College to pursue a master’s degree in business. Spencer, 42, also a single mom, was briefly in jail for drunken driving in 2001, but is training to become a medical billing specialist. Those three women received $750, $750, and $300 awards, respectively. The winners were selected from 25 applicants. The money must be spent on education-related expenses. The awards are the inspiration of Judge Richard Arnason, and the ceremony took place in his court. — Jahna Berry

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