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DOMESTIC PARTNER OF FOLEY LAWYER SUES FIRM FOR BENEFITS While attorneys prepare to clash over same-sex marriage in the California Supreme Court, Foley & Lardner is fighting a domestic partnership battle in its own ranks. A suit in San Francisco Superior Court contends that the Milwaukee-based firm discriminates against gays by not providing spousal survivor benefits to same-sex couples. The suit is being brought by Phillip Hecht, the longtime domestic partner of deceased Foley & Lardner partner Carl Hitchner. The firm’s partnership agreement stipulates that surviving spouses receive regular compensation based on a formula of the deceased partner’s prior earnings. But Hecht contends Foley & Lardner won’t pay him. Foley & Lardner “has discriminated against Carl Hitchner and plaintiff by denying plaintiff survivor benefits, which are provided by Foley & Lardner to surviving spouses of retired partners, employees and associates who are not homosexual, and who are not married to opposite sex spouses,” reads the complaint. According to the suit, Hecht and Hitchner were together for 29 years and were registered as domestic partners in the state of California. Judge Paul Alvarado has thrown out the suit’s breach of written contract claim but has denied Foley & Lardner’s motion to dismiss the employment discrimination claim. While Foley & Lardner argued that Hitchner was a partner and not an employee, Judge Alvarado ruled that that doesn’t exempt Hitchner from protection under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which recognizes sexual orientation as a protected class. An attorney representing Foley & Lardner said the firm does not comment on pending litigation. He provided a press statement that said the firm “regrets that it must be involved in this dispute.” “Late last year, the firm responded to claims made by Mr. Hecht and continues to maintain that it has complied with all written and oral contracts related to partner benefits,” the statement continues. “Foley & Lardner is confident that the claims filed against it will be dismissed.” — Alexei Oreskovic LOVE STORY It was just by chance that Lindbergh Porter Jr. learned about a kidney transplant procedure that saved his wife’s life. He was reading The New York Times when he came across an article about “paired exchange.” Someone in need of a kidney transplant has a willing donor who is not a blood match. They hook up with another mismatched donor and patient –where each of the donors is a match for the other’s loved one — and swap kidneys. Porter, an employment partner at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory’s San Francisco office, jumped at the chance to participate in the procedure. His wife, Mary, had been on dialysis for four years and her health was rapidly declining. He contacted the transplant coordinator at California Pacific Medical Center, who was thinking about doing the procedure. A month later he called Porter back and told him two cousins had also inquired about the kidney swap. Three months ago Porter and his wife and the two cousins became the first people on the West Coast to undergo the paired exchange. “It was an exhilarating experience,” Porter said, “especially with my wife coming home on Christmas Eve.” Porter said the procedure has only been done about a dozen times or so in the United States. Donors are not informed that this option exists, “so no one is asking for the service,” he said. Porter is now working with the transplant team and a couple of physicians to publicize the program so it is donor-driven. He said there are 60,000 kidney dialysis patients in the United States waiting to get a transplant. But since there are only 10,000 to 12,000 donors annually, it takes five or six years to get a transplant. Porter’s wife and the man who received his kidney are both doing well. And Porter is thrilled to see his wife cooking and taking her son to sports practices, tasks that were impossible before the transplant. “I gave her my heart 28 years ago,” Porter said. “This kidney is no big deal.” — Brenda Sandburg LOTUS POSE Danilo DiPietro needs some serious tension relief after crunching numbers for the nation’s top law firms as client head of Citigroup Private Bank’s law firm group. To decompress, the mustachioed former New York City public school teacher practices and instructs yoga a few times a week. “With 35,000 lawyers as clients and 550 law firms, it’s a need-to-do, not a want-to-do,” DiPietro said. DiPietro had been practicing yoga for six years when, in 2000, he decided to attend teacher training at Yoga Zone, in Manhattan. He now teaches weekly classes at the Yoga Zone studio in Old Brookville, N.Y. “I find it provides all the benefits of other exercise regimens with the added benefits of stress reduction and increased self-awareness,” said DiPietro, a svelte 56-year-old. DiPietro’s secret to serenity appears to be working. Since he began running the law firm group in 1999, business there has more than doubled. — Adrienne Sanders

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