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For companies being sued for possible violations of Proposition 65, the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, one defense attorney stands out — Mich�le Corash. The Morrison & Foerster partner is the corporate go-to person on the issue, and for good reason. When the 1986 initiative was placed before voters, Corash wrote the ballot argument against it, and quickly became the leading legal expert. “I took three months off to go around the state and campaign against it,” Corash, 58, recalls. “Then I started getting involved and defended the first case under it.” Coincidentally, she says, that was the only Prop 65 case to have gone all the way to trial. Another one — against Hershey Foods Corp., Nestle USA Inc. and 19 other companies alleging dangerous levels of lead and cadmium in their chocolates — got close, Corash says, but was resolved just last month. Even Attorney General Bill Lockyer weighed in on Corash’s side in that suit, saying the chemical level in the candies was low and naturally occurring. These days, Corash, head of MoFo’s environmental law group, says Prop 65 cases only make up about 30 percent of her workload — with the rest going toward unfair competition suits and traditional environmental defense cases involving such things as toxic cleanups and air pollution. Corash, a 1970 graduate of New York University School of Law, sports an impressive resume. From 1979 to 1981 she served as general counsel of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, a job that then-President Jimmy Carter offered to her by telephone while she was traveling in Europe. “It was the middle of the night, and I said yes,” she says. “I woke up and told my husband that I’d had the strangest dream.” After her EPA stint, Corash moved to California to join the environmental law group of what was then Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro before joining MoFo. At least one person, who wishes anonymity, believes that Corash’s star may have already risen and fallen. But most still give her raves. Richard Coffin, a partner at Barg Coffin Lewis & Trapp who has worked with Corash on several complex cases, says she’s “regarded very highly,” and that she’s “very capable and someone who has both the resources and the knowledge of Prop 65 to provide a very competent defense.” Even an opponent, Northridge lawyer Robert Mandell, who lost a Prop 65 case involving diesel exhaust to Corash, calls her “a fine litigator and a very worthy adversary.” San Francisco lawyer Robert Goodman, meanwhile, classifies Corash as a person “who knows when to fight and when to settle” — a description that pleases Corash. “I think people don’t hire me — given where I came from — if their objective is to get away with something,” she says. “They hire me when they believe they are doing the right things and when they want to solve a problem.

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