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COURT: San Francisco Superior APPOINTED: September 1999 DATE OF BIRTH: Jan. 24, 1956 LAW SCHOOL: Hastings College of the Law, 1984 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None The theme in Arlene Borick’s courtroom comes through loud and clear: Help her help you. Please. As commissioner for the civil case management department, it’s Borick’s job to ensure that most civil cases in San Francisco Superior Court stay on track through trial setting. Allen Kent, an associate with Aguilar & Sebastinelli in San Francisco, likens Borick’s role to a vice principal’s — “the disciplinarian.” His description makes some sense, because Borick presides over show-cause hearings, where parties explain why they haven’t filed something or appeared as scheduled. She also makes sure all unlimited, non-exempt cases go to alternative dispute resolution prior to trial or mandatory settlement conference, and she holds case management conferences — when they can’t be avoided. “I really want to emphasize that we don’t want needless appearances,” Borick said. She estimates her department handles about 600 to 800 cases a week, ongoing or new. During a show-cause calendar last week, Borick reached out to attorneys and pro pers. She urged them to file case management statements 25 days before their scheduled conference, rather than the 15 days required under the California Rules of Court. “That way we can process your case by mail, and you won’t have to appear in court on that date,” she explained. Several attorneys say Borick succeeds in keeping her calendar moving with businesslike efficiency, but remains consistently pleasant and accommodating. “She’s really very nice and considerate, very understanding of lawyers even when they — how do I say — ‘mess up’?” said S.F. solo Julian Lastowski. “If you come up with a reasonable excuse for not having met a court-imposed deadline, she listens and weighs the reasonableness” rather than acting doctrinaire, he said. “And I think she moves the calendar as a result.” Borick also makes it crystal clear that she wants to hear as much as lawyers can tell her about their cases — “Feel free to make attachments to the case management form,” she tells them — and she wants to hear it ASAP. “She is reasonable, she listens to attorneys’ problems, and when she can accommodate you, she does,” said Kenneth Tishgart, a plaintiffs personal injury attorney. “If you communicate with that department in a timely way, you’re not going to have a problem,” said Thomas Paoli of Paoli & Geerhart. But you will have a problem if you don’t show up. At the hearing last week, Borick routinely assessed no-shows $200 sanctions. “My impression is if there’s a good reason why you didn’t appear � the court will consider a request that the sanction be withdrawn,” Paoli said. Borick did as much for one of his clients, who first attempted to proceed pro per. Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold associate Thomas Kopshever praised Borick’s organization and efficiency, but said she struck him as, “I guess, overly stringent sometimes.” In a case about a year and a half ago, he said, the parties spent two days in mediation to no avail, and upon reporting back to Borick, were told to try arbitration instead. “As I read the rules, [mediation] satisfies your arbitration requirement,” Kopshever said. “She interpreted it differently.” When he’s appeared before her more recently, he said, “she’s been very accommodating.” Borick said a local court rule sets out a time frame for mediation in lieu of arbitration, and to allow deviation, she needs to see good cause. “Otherwise, any time through the process the attorneys could flip-flop between the programs.” Borick also said she rarely hears feedback, and welcomes any input, negative or positive. Borick has a long history with the superior court. She worked there for a year after law school as a legal research assistant before moving on to work in the San Francisco office of Kaplan Russin & Vecchi. And around 1987 she returned as a staff attorney, to work on a three-year state pilot project to eradicate civil case backlogs. When the state gave courts the power to set the pace for certain cases, taking the reins out of attorneys’ hands, Commissioner Ralph Flageollet was put in charge of civil case management, Borick said. She became his staff attorney and “right-hand person.” When Flageollet retired in 1999, she applied and was appointed by the superior court to take his place. Although she maintains she likes her job, she frankly stated, “I had no aspirations to go on the bench.” She said she only considered it with Flageollet’s encouragement. “The difficulty for me was the transition to becoming the front person for the department,” Borick said. “I’m a behind-the-scenes person. That’s what I feel I excel at.”

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