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IN 50 YEARS ON THE JOB, MOFO’S SMALL HAS SEEN IT ALL Morrison & Foerster’s Marshall Small, 77, is often remembered for an impromptu speech he once made leaping off the old joke that “At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.” “This view is to be contrasted with that of someone who plants a tree,” Small said. “When you put that sapling into the earth, you are first of all expressing your optimism that the little tree will survive fire, flood, windstorm and pestilence and grow into a tree that provides shade or fruit. But a planter of trees is also doing something more. A planter of trees is engaged in what is a truly selfless act — because you are basically doing something for those who follow after you.” Small’s speech was recalled last month at a dinner celebrating his 50th anniversary with the firm. “Marshall has always planted trees and taught us to do the same,” said MoFo Chairman Keith Wetmore. In keeping with the theme of the evening, Wetmore announced that in Small’s honor, a Lectureship in Law would be established at Small’s alma mater, Stanford Law School, where he graduated in 1951. Sharing the school’s hallowed halls around that time were U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Small himself was a law clerk for Justice William O. Douglas during the high court’s 1951-52 term. The 23rd attorney to join the firm — back when it was Morrison, Hohfeld, Foerster, Shuman & Clark — Small became managing partner during the 1970s, chair of the firm in the 1980s, and served as MoFo’s general counsel. For a decade, he was also a reporter for the American Law Institute, developing principles of corporate governance. But lest readers dare not imagine this longtime partner outside the staid board-room, one colleague recalled a close brush with the underworld. “He and I, in a civil case, fought the mafia for four years,” partner James Brosnahan said. “We made a secret trip to an East Coast city to meet with federal authorities.” “As we pulled into the Holiday Inn, the guy behind the desk said, ‘Are you Mr. Brosnahan, are you Mr. Small? There was a big guy in here a couple of hours ago looking for you.’” Irritated their covert operation had been leaked, they called their firm to inquire who the “big guy” was. That none of their partners was playing a practical joke alarmed them all the more. “I put some furniture in front of the [hotel room] door,” Brosnahan recalled. The federal agents they met with the next morning hadn’t sent anybody over either. “We were scared to death that the [bad] guys were out to get us,” Brosnahan said. – Marie-Anne Hogarth MAYBE HE WASN’T LOOKING FORWARD TO THE RUBBER CHICKEN Add “no show” to the accusations hounding Secretary of State Kevin Shelley these days. The Contra Costa County Bar Association was a little miffed when Shelley canceled a speech scheduled for last week. The appearance was booked long before his political woes began, but was canceled early this month. It was an honest mistake, Shelley’s spokeswoman, Caren Daniels-Meade, said. The event fell on the day of his son’s birthday, she said. Shelley never confirmed that he would come, she added. “I don’t know whether it was an omission with our office or the inner workings of [the bar's] office,” Daniels-Meade said. Shelley is the target of several misconduct probes. Among other things, state officials are investigating whether Shelley mismanaged federal voting act money and whether a state grant was diverted to his campaign. Is Shelley keeping a low profile because of the recent spate of bad press? “He’s not holed up in his office,” Daniels-Meade responded. “He has done several press appearances.” Whether he’s holed up or not, Shelley’s move caught the bar association off guard. “I was pretty disappointed,” said Lisa Reep, executive director of the Contra Costa County Bar Association. The bar invited Shelley to the 2004 MCLE Spectacular, co-sponsored by The Recorder, in mid-May and, the group says, Shelley accepted in June. The bar association put Shelley’s picture on the cover of its magazine and talked to his speechwriter to get the title of his keynote, Reep said. It was supposed to be “Safeguarding Voting and Elections.” Luckily, the president of the California State Bar, former Attorney General John Van de Kamp, agreed to address the group. “He was very gracious,” Reep said. — Jahna Berry IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES The indignation oscillated between desperate and righteous at the Consumer Attorneys of California convention, which brought 400 plaintiff lawyers to Nob Hill in the deflated days between the Nov. 2 election and the anticipated congressional push to restrict consumer torts. Conventioneers strategized, commiserated about insults small and large (“Most people think golf isn’t that athletic, but I’m really sore,” said one attendee after Nov. 11′s invitational, as another compared tort reform to the Third Reich) and, at Nov. 11′s awards dinner, vigorously applauded. But the most common activity, it seemed, was worrying. “These are trying times,” attorney Gary Paul of Santa Monica told attendees at a lunchtime panel discussion. “I felt like I was punched in the stomach on Nov. 2. We went from pure euphoria to the depths of despair in about eight hours.” Hope and desperation were key themes in the three hours of oratory at the awards dinner. The near-constant applause — some of the seated variety, though most came from an entirely upright audience — seemed as much a group therapy session as a celebration of the accomplishments, successful and otherwise, of the honorees. The most oft-cheered was James Sturdevant, the outgoing CAOC president and co-recipient — with solo practitioner Thomas Brandi and Mark Johnson of The Sturdevant Law Firm — of the Litigator of the Year Award for a $1.6 billion preliminary judgment against Bank of America on behalf of customers who had their Social Security accounts docked with bounced-check fees. In addition to its monetary heft, the case is a significant milestone for consumer attorneys, marking the first time that a jury has awarded special damages for the elderly or disabled under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act. But it was also a rough year for Sturdevant, who presided over CAOC through its most demoralizing electoral defeat of the past decade, when California voters passed Proposition 64 and the national election installed a Congress and president (“the most anti-tort president ever elected,” said Paul) keen on curtailing consumer suits. The night’s other honors underscored the theme of tough times for the plaintiff bar. The Legislator of the Year, Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez, D-San Fernando, was recognized for authoring an automobile buyers’ bill of rights that made it through the Legislature before dying on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk. A coalition of advocacy groups was awarded for its unsuccessful work to defeat Prop 64. In his acceptance speech, Douglas Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, called the governor a “hack actor playing the part of a freedom fighter.” And in an inauguration speech that amounted to a call to arms, incoming President Sharon Arkin proclaimed, to great applause, that she’s “sick and tired of being demeaned for being a trial lawyer.” In laying out her plans for the coming year, Arkin says she wants to take the fight against tort reform to the media. “Now is not the time to run and hide,” she said. “Now is the time to stand and fight.” And that fight, Arkin said, will require time, ingenuity and cash. “I don’t want anyone to go into poverty giving to Consumer Attorneys,” she said, “even though I have.” — Justin Scheck and Jill Duman Jennifer Watch: Week 11 With the Dec. 16 finale fast approaching, now seems like a perfect time to get Clifford Chance associate Jennifer Massey ready for the post-”Apprentice” world. And what better way than a video resume to set her apart from all those other job candidates with their boring, 20th century paper resumes. (This is assuming, of course, that she’ll be looking for a job when the show is over. She could very well win and then be employed by The Donald.) So, over here at “Apprentice Watch,” we thought we’d offer Jen some suggestions for creating the perfect video representation of her skills, using footage from the show. Two must-include scenes: Jen risking life and limb while clipping dogs’ toenails in a segment from a few weeks ago, and Jen defying her team leader’s pessimistic attitude during the bridal store challenge by securing a couple of key vendors. The first demonstrates that she can be a good leader, but isn’t above getting her hands a little dirty. The second illustrates her determination to win a challenge even though the odds were stacked against her team. Of course, there was plenty of footage to choose from in Thursday’s episode — as long as certain scenes are left on the cutting-room floor. For instance, one quote from teammate Ivana necessitates inclusion: “If you want a perfect lawyer, hire Jen.” Could she ask for anything better on her resume? But the next sentence out of Ivana’s mouth must never see the light of day again: “If you want an out-of-the-box thinker, do not hire Jen.” Ouch. And then there are those wobbler quotes where it’s unclear if Jen’s reputation is helped or hindered by them. Like this one from Wes: “That’s your secret, Jen, you know how to dog somebody out in a really nice way.” Or how about this one from Kelly: “She’s rolling around on the mat over there like she’s done this a hundred times.” She was modeling jeans, natch. So, don’t worry, Jen, with a little help from us, you’ll be happily employed in no time. Fired this week: Maria and Wes. — Candice McFarland

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