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The first time Judith Droz Keyes attended a Democratic National Convention it was 1968, and she never made it inside. She was among the throngs of anti-war protesters who were pummeled outside the convention by the Chicago police. An officer on a horse struck Keyes on the head with his baton, she says. At the time, her husband was serving in Vietnam as a swift boat officer, in the same squadron as John Kerry. Eight months later, Keyes’ husband died, spurring her to become more active in the anti-war movement. That’s where she met Kerry. Keyes, a partner in Morrison & Foerster’s San Francisco office, is about to attend her second Democratic Convention. This time she’ll be inside, serving as a delegate for Sen. Kerry (D-Mass.), the presumptive presidential nominee. Keyes is one of several local lawyers who’ve been elected as delegates for Kerry or Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), his running mate. For many like Keyes, the road to political involvement is paved with family ties. “I am thrilled to be a part of something that is so terribly important,” Keyes says. “It’s an opportunity to learn about what is going on in the big-picture sense and what we in California can do” to help Kerry win the election. A total of 4,353 delegates and 611 alternates will attend the convention, which kicks off July 26 in Boston and culminates with Kerry’s acceptance speech the evening of July 29. California has the largest contingent, with 441 delegates and 62 alternates. The District of Columbia has 39 delegates and four alternates. Delegates won their spots on the convention floor primarily through political connections and fund-raising efforts for Kerry and Edwards. Keyes is co-chair of Lawyers for Kerry in California and chair of Women for Kerry in California. She was elected an alternate delegate for California’s 8th Congressional District. D.C. TEA PARTY D.C. lawyer James Bubar has attended conventions since the 1980s. But this is his first as an elected delegate. “I’m not a hanger-on,” Bubar says. “I get to vote.” Bubar is a solo practitioner who focuses on communications, business, and litigation. At previous conventions he accompanied and assisted politicians and their families, including former President Bill Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelly. This time, he will be working on promoting voting rights for the District. The D.C. delegation’s main event is a “Boston Tea Party,” where delegates will throw tea into the Boston Harbor to protest “taxation without representation,” a symbolic re-enactment of the American protest against the British more than 200 years ago. “We’ll be trying to further our message throughout the convention,” Bubar says. A. Scott Bolden is a partner in the D.C. office of Reed Smith and has been chairman of the D.C. Democratic Party since June 2003. He says he is looking forward to hosting the “second Boston Tea Party . . . to educate the country on the lack of voting rights [in D.C.] and our lack of statehood.” He also says the D.C. Democratic Party will be “working on urban issues and improving our communities . . . and energizing the African-American [voter] base.” Bolden attended his first convention as a law student when his mother was an Illinois delegate. “It was a thrill to be there with her and fellow Democrats in this country,” he says. American University law professor Jamin Raskin was elected as one of 22 convention delegates for Democrats Abroad, the official Democratic Party organization for Americans living overseas. “It’s actually an important constituency because Americans abroad vote in every state,” Raskin says. Raskin, a John Kerry supporter, lived and taught in France for a year. In 1988, he attended his first Democratic convention as general counsel to former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. The 2004 convention will be his first as a delegate. “I’m very excited about it,” Raskin says. “When you live abroad you see how isolated America has become. But it’s great to be a part of a campaign that’s really turning America around.” BIGGEST DELEGATION The lineup of delegates from the nation’s largest delegation — California — also includes MoFo partner Tony West, Palo Alto solo practitioner Owen Byrd, and plaintiffs lawyer Thomas Girardi of Los Angeles’ Girardi & Keese, whose firm was one of the top financial supporters of Kerry’s running mate, Edwards, when he was running for president. Byrd was one of the founders of the local Lawyers for Kerry group. He organized the first fund-raiser for the senator in Silicon Valley in May of last year. For West, the experience is old-hat. He’s been to four previous conventions, the first in 1988, when he worked on Michael Dukakis’ campaign. After Dukakis lost the election, West spent nine months as the finance director of the Democratic Governors Association. In that role he traveled around the country with Clinton, who was then governor of Arkansas and the chairman of the association. West says it was difficult to raise money for an organization, so he would point to Clinton and tell people, “He’s going to be the next president of the United States.” “It was far more pitch than prescience,” says West, who later joined Clinton’s 1992 campaign and became one of his delegates from San Francisco. This time around, West has a special assignment at the convention. He’ll be one of about 50 whips overseeing logistics on the floor. One of the duties of a whip is to tell delegates when to raise their “Kerry for President” signs. Such efforts can make a visual impact, West says. He recalls the Rev. Jackson’s speech at the 1988 convention. Jackson, who ran for president that year, had many delegates on the floor. During Jackson’s talk, the whips made sure that only the red signs for Jackson were raised. “Even those of us with Dukakis felt a great deal of pride for Jesse,” West says. “That night, that whole floor was red.” Although he’s never been a delegate, T. Hale Boggs, a partner in Manatt, Phelps & Phillips’ Palo Alto and Los Angeles offices, has attended most of the Democratic conventions over the last 20 years. His family has long ties to the Democratic Party. His grandfather, Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., served in the U.S. Congress for almost 30 years. After Boggs Sr.’s death, his wife, Lindy, took the same seat for 18 years. And T. Hale Boggs’ father is Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., the head of D.C.’s Patton Boggs and one of Washington’s best-known lobbyists. The convention is a way to make business connections and “reconnect with people I don’t see in person that often,” Boggs says. “And it’s fun.” REMEMBERING VIETNAM As Keyes immerses herself in the current presidential campaign, she is also being drawn back to the turbulent time of the Vietnam War. Her daughter, Tracy Droz Tragos, made a documentary about her father, Donald Droz, which was recently nominated for an Emmy. The film, “Be Good, Smile Pretty,” includes interviews with those who fought with Droz in Vietnam, including Kerry. Tragos began the project after she searched his name online three years ago and discovered an account of his death during an ambush of his boat on the Mekong Delta. Keyes says she and her daughter have been struck with “the uncanny juxtaposition” of Tragos’ discovery and Kerry’s announcement that he would run for the presidency. As in 1968, the U.S. government is involved in a war that is drawing protesters to the convention. The Boston Globe reported that the city has issued 67 permits for demonstrations and vigils. Anti-war groups are protesting Kerry for his support of the war in Iraq and his call to send more troops there. Kerry’s delegates, however, contend that he offers the best chance to turn around President George W. Bush’s policies on civil rights, the environment, the USA Patriot Act, and other issues. “We may have disagreements on what should be emphasized,” Keyes says. “It’s time to stand united in the face of [Bush's] opposition to all the values we hold.” Brenda Sandburg is a reporter for The Recorder , the American Lawyer Media newspaper in San Francisco. Legal Times reporter Christine Hines contributed to this article.

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