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LAWYER GETS FIRST NOVEL OUT — THANKS TO FRIENDLY COUNSEL After six years of writing and eight years’ worth of unsuccessful overtures to publishers and literary agents, San Francisco employment plaintiff lawyer-cum-novelist Stephen Murphy did what many do in times of frustration: He found a lawyer. Murphy met Thomas Beatty, a partner with the Walnut Creek civil defense firm McNamara, Dodge, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Pfalzer & Borges, in a fiction writing class about five years ago, and the two started a writing group with another pair of aspiring authors. Within a year, Beatty — who is trying to sell his own novel — put Murphy in touch with his New York agent, who liked the manuscript and eventually sold it to a division of Penguin Putnam. “Steve’s got published. Mine hasn’t yet, but there’s hope,” Beatty said. In his years without an agent, Murphy said, hope was rare. “The one thing I learned about this business is you’ve got to get used to rejection,” Murphy said Thursday, two days after his novel “Alibi” hit the bookstores. Between 1994 and 2002, Murphy showed the manuscript to about two dozen agents, with little encouragement. “If I got a personalized rejection letter, I thought it was a victory,” he said. “Alibi” — Murphy’s first choice was “Friendly Deception” — was inspired by a trial he witnessed in the early 1980s, while working for a New Hampshire judge after graduating from the University of San Francisco School of Law. It took six years for Murphy to finally start writing about the trial. When he began writing the fictional account, what captivated him was not just the mystery but the relationships among various characters, including the lawyers. The narrator, an attorney accustomed to DWI cases, has a strange relationship with a longtime friend who may be involved with the crime, Murphy said. The book is actually the author’s second. His first, “Their Word Is Law,” is a compilation of interviews with lawyer authors. It was published in 2002. With “Alibi” out of the way, Murphy and Beatty are busy critiquing one another’s new manuscripts. “I’m working on his sequel right now, editing and commenting,” Beatty said. “He’s working on my book called “Silicon Dreams.” – Justin Scheck A FIRM BY ANY OTHER NAME � After Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich’s three-way merger with DLA and Piper Rudnick, it took a little while to learn to say the new firm name, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, without missing a beat. “We really had to think about it because we were so used to saying Gray Cary,” said one receptionist. “My partner, she had to have something in front of her for about a week.” Still, it’s probably not the end of cheat sheets. A firm spokesman says the name may contract to DLA Piper — possibly as early as next year. Lawyers at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman also know what it’s like to play catch-up with a firm’s name change. With all the excitement of the merger, several in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco offices forgot to remove their firm’s old name from their voice-mail greetings. “Thank you for reminding me,” said Vernon Granneman, a partner in the Palo Alto office. “The next time somebody calls, it will be Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.” Many avoided the problem altogether by not mentioning the firm’s name at all. One firm embracing change for its own sake is Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. The firm has shortened its legal name to Heller Ehrman, which more closely resembles its brand name Heller Ehrman. Some name changes seemed more necessary than others. “The only one that upset me was when they took the comma out of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro,” says partner George Haley. His chief complaint: “Grammar.” – Marie-Anne Hogarth CHARITY ENDS IN LAWYER’S OFFICE Ronald Malone is sort of the Johnnie Cochran of the philanthropy set. When wealthy people have a problem with their trusts, Malone is on their short list of go-to attorneys. That’s how the Shartsis, Friese & Ginsburg partner ended up in a battle with Princeton University. He is representing a family that claims the Ivy League school has misused a multimillion-dollar donation it received from Marie Robertson, the heiress to the A&P supermarket fortune, and her husband Charles. “It’s the most important case in the country to philanthropists,” Malone said. “It is one of the first cases of this magnitude to litigate what donor restrictions have to be honored by recipients.” The Robertsons gave Princeton $35 million in 1961, specifying that the money was to be used to help students at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs get jobs at the U.S. State Department. The children of the now-deceased couple filed suit in 2002, saying the money wasn’t being spent in accordance with their parents’ wishes. The case is pending in the Chancery Division of New Jersey Superior Court in Trenton. Princeton General Counsel Peter McDonough said the university did not misspend the funds and that every year the Robertson Foundation board got a report about the university’s spending. Malone has a niche practice handling charitable trust cases. He represented the estate of beer baron Paul Kalmanovitz, owner of Pabst Brewing Co., and the $15 billion estate of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of Hawaii’s King Kamehameha. The current dispute has been lucrative for Shartsis. Malone said the Robertsons have spent “well over $5 million” in attorneys fees to date. McDonough said “it’s fair to presume” that Princeton has spent nearly as much or more than the Robertsons. With a trial set for February, the case will continue to generate hefty income for the lawyers on both sides. — Brenda Sandburg POT SHOTS A former member of the O.J. Simpson trial “dream team” gave the County Counsel Association of California a lecture on medical marijuana at the group’s annual shindig in Monterey last month. Gerald Uelmen, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law who has represented clients in a number of medical marijuana cases over the past five years, was asked to share his views on the issue with the conference attendees. “This is an issue that a number of counties are facing, and there is a good deal of uncertainty,” Uelmen said. While California has been given the green light on medical marijuana use, there are still a number of legal questions that have to be ironed out, Uelmen said. The issue is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. About 90 people came to the conference, held April 21 and 22 in a hotel along Monterey’s Cannery Row. Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Schroeder was on hand to talk about how the court is getting slammed with immigration appeals. “She was fabulous, very down to earth,” Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel said. – Julie O’Shea

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