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POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS COST CABRASER MORE THAN SHE PLANNED The Fair Political Practices Commission won’t have Elizabeth Cabraser to kick around anymore. After having to shell out $12,000 in fines for missing campaign finance reporting deadlines, the queen of class-action litigation says she’s had enough. The penalty “certainly will impact my contributions in the future,” said Cabraser, of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. “I won’t make them.” During 2002, Cabraser gave $67,250 in contributions, “mostly” to Democratic candidates. This isn’t the first time Cabraser has run afoul of the FPPC. After paying fines for violating deadline rules before, she said she delegated responsibility to someone in her office to keep track of the deadlines. She said she had no intent to break the rules and doesn’t have any quarrel with the FPPC’s reporting requirements. Nevertheless, she said keeping track of everything is getting to be more trouble than it’s worth. She said people should be aware that it’s not just campaign committees that have to closely follow rules. Private individuals have to keep up, too. “I don’t think it’s seemly to whine about rules,” she said. “But I do think in terms of private individuals, perhaps one size doesn’t fit all.” Last week, the FPPC also announced a penalty against another San Francisco attorney, Joseph M. Alioto of the Alioto Law Firm. He agreed to pay $2,250 for missing a deadline to file a late contribution report for a $15,000 donation he made to his daughter Michela Alioto’s failed run for secretary of state. Like Cabraser, Alioto said he violated FPPC rules accidentally. Alioto, the son of late San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto, said the FPPC should spend its time going after more serious offenders. “The whole purpose of the Fair Political Practices Act is to ensure that people are aware of potential influence,” he says. And in his case, the potential just isn’t there. “Everyone knows,” he said, “that a father cannot influence his daughter.” — Jeff Chorney NO MORE COOLING – OFF PERIOD Bad bosses beware: Walk-ins are now welcome at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. People who want to make a complaint about job bias can now do it in person three days a week at the EEOC’s downtown San Francisco office, said district director Joan Ehrlich. Before the walk-in hours began earlier this month, aggrieved employees notified the EEOC by telephone or by mail. However, many would-be whistle-blowers would lose their nerve by the time their in-person appointments rolled around four or six weeks later, she said. “It takes courage to make a complaint,” said Ehrlich, who was Houston district director for 24 years before joining the San Francisco office in September. “If they wait six weeks, they change their mind.” Walk-ins can come to the EEOC’s office at 350 Embarcadero, Suite 500, from 8:30 to 4:30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. — Jahna Berry YOUTH QUAKE It’s not quite robbing the cradle, but Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe is working to woo future lawyers at an even earlier age. In a bid to boost diversity down the line, the firm’s started a new fellowship program that offers summer associate gigs to a handful of first-year law students who “contribute meaningfully” to the diversity of the law student and legal community. “Basically the idea is to try to attract some very talented law students to Heller who would help us to become a more diverse workplace,” says Michael Rugen, the co-chair of Heller’s ethnic diversity task force. Members of ethnic minority groups currently make up 26 percent of Heller’s associates and 9 percent of its partners. The firm was ranked the 13th most ethnically diverse firm in the country by Minority Law Journal. But Rugen says the firm wants to do better. “We certainly have been trying to do that with our normal on-campus interviewing. But to be honest with you, the number of minorities at a lot of campuses these days is pretty low,” Rugen says. While summer associate programs typically recruit second-year law students, Heller’s fellowship program is designed to net the top candidates a year before the competition. The firm will award a fellowship in each of the four regions where it has the most lawyers (Bay Area, Northwest, Southern California and East Coast). In addition to being paid for the summer associate job, the fellows will each receive a $7,500 scholarship. — Alexei Oreskovic

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