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TOUGH LITIGATOR’S TOUGHEST FIGHT: BEATING BREAST CANCER When Morrison & Foerster partner Angela Padilla was diagnosed with breast cancer she pored through books looking for images of women who had battled the disease. “You may see a photo of a mastectomy but not the day-to-day life of a young mom,” Padilla said. “It’s a missing piece out there that needs to be told to inspire and educate women.” Padilla decided to document her experience so others would know what to expect. Soon after she learned she had breast cancer, she met Stephanie Atkinson at a baby shower. Atkinson is a photographer who won an Emmy for her television work, and she agreed to take on the project. She followed Padilla for a year, photographing her family life and treatment — which included a lumpectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy, 33 sessions of radiation and surgery to remove her ovaries. An exhibit of Atkinson’s photos, titled “Angela’s Journey: Breast Cancer Hits Home,” will be shown Nov. 14 at Melting Pot Gallery, 1340 Bryant St., San Francisco. The evening event is a benefit for two organizations, Breast Cancer Action and the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic. Padilla was diagnosed with stage II invasive breast cancer in July 2002, two months after she and her partner, Amy Silverstein, had adopted a baby, Isabella, from Guatemala. Padilla, who was 36 at the time, said she worried about incorporating her new identity as a cancer survivor into that of a successful, hard-charging litigator. But despite concerns of how others might react to her appearance, she eschewed wigs and hats and went to work bald. “I figured I’m not in the closet about being a lesbian and I don’t want to be in the closet about having cancer,” Padilla said. Padilla is one of several MoFo lawyers who have battled breast cancer. Partner Ruth Borenstein and associate Deborah Mosley have survived the disease. And earlier this year Washington, D.C., partner Barbara Wellbery died from breast cancer. Padilla said she was cheered that her colleagues continued to keep her in the loop when she was too sick to work. She had spent three years working to defend the Oakland Coliseum against claims that it lured the Raiders football team back to the city with false promises of a packed stadium. Padilla was disappointed to miss the trial in April, but MoFo partner James Brosnahan, the lead lawyer on the case, called Padilla every week from Sacramento to let her know what was happening. “In a $1 billion case, that he could still remember me and call me — it got me through some rough spots,” Padilla said. Padilla’s cancer is in remission and she is back at work. “I’m so grateful to be alive and obviously it’s an adjustment to go from being a cancer patient to being a litigator again,” Padilla said. “I gained a lot of strength in cancer land, and I bring that strength to my practice.” — Brenda Sandburg A FAMILIAR APPARITION The ghost of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison was conjured up again last week when Santa Monica litigation boutique O’Neill & Sun announced it was closing down. After losing several partners in recent months — most notably former name partner Brian Lysaght — the two remaining name partners decided to join Jones Day. They took six or seven lawyers with them in the move, which was effective Saturday. Lysaght had been in the spotlight earlier this year representing the defunct Santa Monica firm Dickson, Carlson & Campillo, which claimed its collapse was triggered by Brobeck and Brobeck’s hiring of two top-earning partners. Following a trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Malibu courthouse, a jury in May found that the defection involved some misconduct on the part of Brobeck and partner Debra Pole but awarded the Dickson, Carlson firm a relatively paltry $153,688 in damages. Brobeck itself dissolved in February after losing a flood of partners and the collapse of merger discussions with Philadelphia’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Lysaght also followed the law firm hopping trend, defecting to Piper Rudnick in August. He had co-founded O’Neill, Lysaght & Sun in the mid-1980s with Brian O’Neill and Brian Sun. A month before Lysaght left, partner Ellyn Garofalo and Edward Klein jumped to Los Angeles’ Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif. Prior to the spate of departures, the firm had about 20 lawyers. Despite the common thread of partner defection and firm collapse, Sun said his firm’s situation was quite different from that of Brobeck. “The Brobeck thing was obviously more involuntary than ours,” Sun said. Sun said Lysaght’s departure was not a factor in the firm’s decision to close but that it led to a flurry of calls from headhunters and international, national and regional firms looking to pick up O’Neill & Sun lawyers. “We were not seriously interested until Jones Day came along,” Sun said. “They have great trial lawyers and operate from a team concept.” — Brenda Sandburg THE UNKINDEST CUT Eye surgeons dread the word malpractice as much as anyone else whose name ends with M.D. Now, thanks to a new study, anxious ophthalmologists can weigh their odds of getting sued. The study examines malpractice claims within the booming field of refractive surgery, such as the popular lasik procedure in which a patient’s cornea is shaved down with a laser in order to correct near or far-sightedness. According to the study published in the November issue of Ophthalmology, surgeons who handle high patient volumes are more likely to get slapped with a malpractice suit than other refractive surgeons. Other high-risk traits include the use of advertising, having prior claims and, curiously, being a male surgeon. “For the first time, a methodology has been developed that identifies the risk factors,” Dr. Richard Abbott, the study’s author, said in a statement. Identifying such predictors will impact insurance rates and lead to better patient care and risk management, noted Abbott. What’s more, the study concluded, the results will “alter the image this procedure has acquired within the legal community and the public.” Not everyone buys the findings, however. Kenneth Keith, a New York plaintiffs attorney who’s currently handling about a dozen lasik malpractice cases, said there’s no pattern among the defendants in his cases. “There’s nobody out there that can rest easy. I’m seeing top doctors getting sued on a regular basis,” Keith said. “It cuts across everything.” — Alexei Oreskovic

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