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BASF, 49ERS CHALLENGE FIRMS TO FUND-RAISING SCRIMMAGE San Francisco 49ers General Counsel Edward Goines hopes to see a lot of his fellow attorneys at the football team’s training this summer. The team’s charitable foundation, along with some of its players and alumni, are pitching in to help raise money for the Bar Association of San Francisco’s “School-to-College” program, which helps students at Balboa High School visit universities and navigate the college application process. In a joint fund-raising effort that’s kicking off next month, the 49ers Foundation is challenging law firms, corporate legal departments and individuals to match its $5,000 contribution to the program. As a carrot, the team is offering two tickets to the team’s training camp this summer, a barbecue lunch, and a tour of the Santa Clara headquarters for contributors of $5,000 or more, said Goines, adding that the tickets can be given to clients. The team is also lending the program some jock power. Next month, current players, including Kevan Barlow, are going to a rally at the high school to get students interested, Goines said. And a fund-raising cocktail party next month will feature some past 49ers Super Bowl winners, including Steve Bono, Eric Wright, Keena Turner, Guy McIntyre and Roger Craig. “We’re just foaming at the mouth about it, we’re so excited,” BASF Executive Director Martha Whetstone said. Goines brought BASF and the team together after he attended the high school’s graduation last year. “It was just overpowering,” Goines said, adding that it sent him back to the days when he became the first in his family to go to college. “It reminded me of that feeling of overwhelming opportunity.” The goal is to raise a minimum of $100,000 with the 49ers’ help — roughly the annual budget for the School-to-College program. “Twenty firms and we’re there,” Goines said. As of Friday, the bar had pledges from Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, Keker & Van Nest and Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott, said Joan Firestone, the bar’s director of special projects. — Pam Smith OPENING DOORS. AND WINDOWS. When Howard Yellen got a notice in the mail that he might be able to collect on Microsoft Corp.’s California class action settlement, he was intrigued. “I came to the realization that, A: the settlement was really good and accessible and B: people were on their own and wouldn’t file claims,” Yellen said. An entrepreneur and lawyer, Yellen thought he could make money by helping companies and individuals collect their share of the settlement. In October he launched the Settlement Recovery Center with $750,000 in startup funds raised with the help of Tennyson West LLC. The financial advisory firm also donated two-thirds of its office space on Sansome Street in San Francisco to the center. “It’s a dot-com experience in a post-bust world,” Yellen quipped. A 1989 graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, Yellen began his career at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. He left after three years to form his own consulting company and since then has initiated several startups. Under an agreement reached last year, Microsoft is providing up to $1.1 billion in vouchers to 14 million Californians who indirectly purchased Microsoft software from 1995 to 2001. The vouchers can be used to purchase any computer hardware, software or peripheral products. The Settlement Recovery Center has hired 70 employees to run the business and get the word out about the Microsoft settlement through radio ads, bulk mailing and a call center that works off company mailing lists. A Microsoft spokeswoman said the claims administrator for the settlement, Minneapolis-based Rust Consulting Inc., has also publicized the voucher program through a first-class mailing to between 10 million and 12 million potential class members, approximately 8 million e-mails and advertising in such magazines as Newsweek, Parade and People. Yellen said that as of the end of February, only 3 percent of the class had submitted claims for the vouchers. He cited a declaration that the president of Rust Consulting submitted to the court last month stating that his company had received “approximately 531,000 standard and WWMDB [World Wide Marketing Database] claim forms and 1,414 volume license claim forms.” Yellen said that hundreds of companies have signed up with the Settlement Recovery Center to get their claims processed. Yellen said the center typically finds that a company with 500 employees is entitled to receive $60,000 to $80,000 in vouchers. His company charges a contingency fee of 20 percent to 30 percent. The center also solicits schools, churches and nonprofits to get their members to donate their recovery to their group or a charitable organization. And the company recently began reaching out to individuals. During the anti-war demonstration in San Francisco on March 20, a half-dozen staffers and volunteers made their way through the crowd encouraging people to bring in settlement funds for their organizations. “That was our first foray into the grass-roots arena,” said staffer Brian Streiffer. “We got $3,000 to $4,000 in [voucher] donations and made wonderful contacts.” The settlement center expects to stay in business long after the California claims are wrapped up. Yellen said the company is moving into Florida this week. Nine other states and the District of Colombia also have settlement agreements with Microsoft. “Processing Microsoft claims will take us a couple more years,” Yellen said. “We expect to migrate into other class actions.” — Brenda Sandburg

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