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FROM DISTANT GUAM COMES CROSS-OCEAN PARTNERSHIP They met at a beauty contest in Guam nine years ago. Kathleen Fisher, then a partner at Morrison & Foerster, persuaded Eduardo Calvo to hire her firm to represent the executor of the $500 million estate of the late Larry Hillblom, one of the founders of DHL Worldwide Express. The two worked as co-counsel in contentious and lucrative litigation with Hillblom’s heirs and the Hillblom trust over how to divide the estate. Now their partnership has become official. Fisher, who left MoFo last year, has joined Guam-based Calvo & Clark, opening its San Francisco office earlier this month. She has also brought in David Roe, a former senior counsel to the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First), as partner, and two associates from MoFo, Matthew Borden and Dawn Payne. “It was very natural because for the last almost 10 years I’ve been working with Calvo & Clark on matters in Guam,” Fisher said. “What’s different and so much fun is doing high-stakes and cross-border litigation in the context of a small firm.” Calvo & Clark has seven other lawyers in its Guam and Saipan offices; they handle litigation and transactions for companies across the Pacific Rim. Most recently, the firm represented the Japanese bankruptcy trustee for EIE International Corp., a failed real estate developer, in its suit against Shinsei Bank. Shinsei paid about $200 million to EIE to settle claims that Shinsei and others conspired to strip EIE of its assets. Calvo & Clark is representing EIE’s trustee in a related suit against Shearman & Sterling, which represented EIE in its dispute with Shinsei. Fisher had been at MoFo for 28 years, where she served as managing partner of the San Francisco office from 1988 to 1991 and also had a three-year stint as national chair of the firm’s litigation department. After leaving MoFo in March, Fisher joined her husband’s plaintiff firm in Oakland, the Sinclair Law Offices. Fisher met Roe, her new partner, through MoFo colleague Michele Corash. Roe is the principal author of California’s Proposition 65, a 1986 voter initiative that requires companies to disclose that they are exposing people to toxic chemicals. Corash was a leading opponent of the proposition. Roe, who spent 25 years as counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund, said it’s not a stretch for him to join Calvo & Clark. “In a way it has some of the same feel of the best public interest work,” he said, with “a small number of people taking on large opponents.” — Brenda Sandburg THE NEW BOHEMIAN James Brosnahan has kept a hobby under wraps for more than a decade. Every Sunday he throws his canvases and water-based oils into the back of his Subaru and heads for the outdoors to paint. Favorite subjects include the varied landscapes of the East Bay. But he also loves the mountains — the Sierras and Yosemite National Park. He has even painted atop Mount Whitney. “Maybe it has something to do with being a trial lawyer, but I always attempt realism,” Brosnahan, of Morrison & Foerster, said. “I try to get the colors as nature has provided them, and the big thing is to capture the light in your painting.” Brosnahan, who took up the brush as a means of getting outdoors, found that painting put him in touch with many others pursuing the “bohemian life.” It also became a soothing pastime during the rainy season or when he was at trial. Brosnahan, who is self-taught, once considered a career in art. “One summer between my second and third year of law school, I went to Greenwich Village and walked around,” he recalls. “My roommate fortunately talked me out of it, telling me I had no talent.” Friends and fellow attorneys finally had the chance to view some of Brosnahan’s art in his first public show on Friday and Saturday. Held at Berkeley’s St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, the benefit aided an organization close to the litigator’s heart — Options Recovery Services. His wife, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carol Brosnahan, helps run ORS, a substance abuse treatment program for the mentally ill and homeless in Berkeley. “I got to know one person who was in the program. � I was invited to his 50th birthday,” said Brosnahan. “You hear a story of somebody who lived under a bridge and you hear their excitement about having a room and their room having a television. It was like this man was the king of Siam.” Asked if he was nervous about going public with his solitary hobby, the courtroom lawyer in the 71-year-old Brosnahan came out. “At my age, why should I be nervous?” he asked. – Marie-Anne Hogarth FEEDING THE HEART For 27 years, Vilma Celis’ lunch-planning prowess has gained her renown among Cooley Godward’s attorneys. The firm’s San Francisco catering director has become known firmwide for weekday lunches and the occasional after-work event. “People down here in Palo Alto know her from her reputation,” said Brian Sander, an associate in the firm’s Silicon Valley office. But Sander got to know Celis in another context, one that was emphasized Wednesday when she received the Anthony F. Logan Award from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Normally given to legal assistants and secretaries, the award recognizes a non-lawyer’s contribution to public interest law. This year it went to Celis in recognition of her approximately two decades as a volunteer Spanish-English translator with the Lawyers’ Committee’s asylum project. “I can’t remember when I started, but it was because they needed a connection between the client and the lawyer,” said Celis, a refugee from Guatemala. The issue when she started was that the English-speaking lawyers handling pro bono asylum cases — often prominent attorneys from big firms — had trouble representing their clients, and not just because of language barriers. Since they are often victims of severe trauma, asylum seekers may be reluctant to discuss their experiences with strangers — but it is these very experiences that lawyers use to persuade a judge to grant asylum. “If you were physically abused,” Sander said, “all you want to do is forget about it and put it behind you. But you can’t do that if you’re seeking asylum.” Celis says her focus is to help clients open up in front of a judge. “You have to make them visualize the cruelty that goes on in these countries,” she said. To this end, Celis focuses on developing trust among client, attorney and translator. “I’m like a mother to the clients. I have to be their friend, to make them feel comfortable,” she said. In the last case she worked on, the client was a Mexican man seeking asylum because he was persecuted for being gay and HIV-positive. Celis “basically treated him as one of her own,” said Sander. “She recognized that he was pretty much alone in this country. � She made it clear that she was interested in him very much as a person and an individual.” The man was eventually granted asylum, as was a transgender client from El Salvador whom Celis worked with last year. In fact, of the 20 cases in which Celis has been involved, 19 have resulted in the client getting asylum. The other case is still pending. In addition to the Logan award, the Lawyers’ Committee gave out other honors at its annual Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon. The recipients were Jon Streeter, a partner at Keker & Van Nest; Christina Wheeler, a senior associate with Bingham McCutchen; Jayne Fleming, an associate at Reed Smith; Laurie Hauber, a former Cooley Godward partner; Scott Karchmer, a partner with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Peter Romo of Franklin Resources Inc. Also honored this year were Bingham McCutchen, Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe and Morrison & Foerster for their election oversight work in November. – Justin Scheck

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