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LAWYERS PRESENT BODIES OF EVIDENCE AT FUNDRAISER Most lawyers probably wear underwear most of the time. So it’s safe to assume that what was remarkable about Legal Briefs, a May 26 fundraiser for AIDS legal help, was not the fact that the attorneys in the fashion show were wearing underwear. It’s that they weren’t wearing anything else. And then there was the member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors whose performance raised several dollars — tucked by donors into his skivvies. For the second year in a row, the AIDS Legal Referral Panel has tried to cover a loss of federal funding by asking lawyers to strip down and shake it in front of an audience, more for the sake of titillation than humiliation. “It’s more flattering than anything that people want you to strip down,” said San Francisco solo Andrew Westley as he prepared to let the audience conduct discovery. “It’s a big ego boost.” Westley, who does landlord/tenant work for the referral panel, was one of a group of models at the San Francisco LGBT Center that included porn stars, local political figures and a brace of associates from Farella Braun & Martel. “There are some who are very cute, and some who aren’t and are just up here for a joke. And then there are some women,” said Paul Colfer, a non-lawyer who came to support the panel and watch the models, the drag-clad host and the intermission cabaret singer. There were women among the Farella group, which was led by the trim new associate Jason Belk. He said that without the fundraising abilities of a more seasoned lawyer, taking his clothes off seemed like a good way to raise money for a cause he supports. “I just started practicing, so I don’t think that I have the cachet to get money, but I could do this,” he said. “I wasn’t going to talk to people at the firm because I was a bit sheepish,” Belk added. But after getting support from fellow associates, he was able to convince Farella to donate money — and rather modest logo-imprinted underwear — for the fundraiser. ALRP’s purple-and-gold-robed director, William Hirsh, said the event has become a key part of the group’s fundraising efforts. “It’s been amazing to see the response that we get,” he said. Hirsh’s father, Irving — a former New Jersey judge — agreed. “It’s very nice,” he said. Another lawyer (also wearing underwear, but under his normal street clothes) at the event was Wayne Morris, regional counsel for Kaiser Permanente and a longtime attorney for ALRP referees. “The demands for legal help have changed along with the epidemic,” he said. But other than lawyer jokes, there was little talk about legal practice. Much conversation centered on Bevan Dufty, the San Francisco supervisor who had top billing at the event. And for good reason: He removed his firefighter’s helmet and jacket to reveal a skimpy two-piece pajama number. And then he got serious, setting his sites–and himself–on one of the charitable drag queens from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who happened to arrive in regular street clothes. “This is the second year he’s done the lap dance on Sister Dana,” explained Anna Damiani, another underwear model and a staffer for Assemblyman Mark Leno. — Justin Scheck LOSING TO WIN Maxcy Filer isn’t quite sure how he was declared the winner of BeatTheBar.com’s most-unsuccessful-bar-exam-entrant contest. “I told them that was 14 or 15 years ago,” Filer says. Not that the 74-year-old Compton attorney, who took 25 years and 48 tests to pass the bar, isn’t used to having his story told. “It’s been in the Times, the Daily Journal, every newspaper you could think of,” he says. Not to mention the solo practitioner’s appearances on The Cosby Show, Good Morning America, Good Morning Los Angeles, and the list goes on. “I thought it was over,” he says. The company that sells the alternative bar review course sponsored the contest to identify the person who had failed the bar the most number of times, and who had the best story. Filer fit the bill, at least on the dramatic side. “I was a parking lot attendant,” he said. “I went to Van Norman Law School, which you’ve never heard of and which is out of business.” Filer said he was 36 when he started taking the bar exam, and finally passed at age 61. “I will never forget,” Filer says. “A guy bought me a fifth of scotch and I told him, ‘I’m already high.’ But those stories have been told.” Darren Shuster, the publicist behind the contest, says Filer was located through a listserv that gets distributed to lawyers. “We asked lots of attorneys, probably thousands,” he said. “I’m glad we finally found one.” One of the problems in getting recruits for the contest, Shuster says, is “Everybody was too embarrassed to be the one.” As for Filer, he says he’ll keep practicing until they haul him away. Marie-Anne Hogarth BAR HELPS STUDENTS RAISE BAR This year, the School-to-College program, run by the Bar Association of San Francisco, is sending to college its biggest group of students yet. And the mentoring outfit, which cheerleads and guides a group of students at San Francisco’s Balboa High School on the road to higher education, has still higher ambitions for itself. The bar has recently hired its first full-time coordinator dedicated to the program, and there are plans to expand its reach to freshman and sophomores, said Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, a very involved mentor who was president of BASF when it initiated the idea in 1999. “For a lot of years, it was sort of a bubblegum-and-shoestring operation,” she said. Though the program brings the students to visit universities on the East Coast as well as local colleges, most, if not all, of this year’s 38 graduates plan to attend California schools. Their send-off was marked with a graduation ceremony Thursday. Balboa is in the middle-class Excelsior neighborhood but draws a diverse student body from throughout the city. Warren Tang, a senior bound for UC-Berkeley, says the mentors lent a hand with financial-aid applications. And “they were very helpful with my personal statement, reading and revising it.” The mentors’ rewards are less tangible. “I really enjoy the opportunity to get back in the classroom,” said Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Luhe, a mentor who spent seven years as a high-school English teacher in Colorado before she became a lawyer two decades ago. And, she added, “I really like helping the students from Balboa. I have relatives in town that have graduated from some of the private schools, and the difference in the resources that are available . . . they’re just so different.” In its plans to expand, School-to-College is looking to draw more volunteers. “We continue to be interested in lawyers, but we’re also interested in non-lawyers,” said Stewart. “For the kids, having people in different careers is really great.” — Pam Smith ETHICS . . . ON THE INTERNET? John Steele, an attorney with Fish & Richardson in Redwood City, has taken the blogging world by storm. Since launching his Legal Ethics Forum in February, Steele’s daily postings have attracted readers from around the globe, including Japan, India, Australia and England. The site, dedicated, as the name suggests, to ethics and the law, scores hundreds of hits per day. “I just really like legal ethics,” said Steele, who lectures on the subject at Santa Clara University, Stanford University and UC-Berkeley. “I post at home. I try and have something short for most weekdays.” His online forum, Steele added, is “a lot less formal than a Law Review . . . but more formal than a casual thought.” It certainly seems Steele gives his readers plenty to chew on. In his May 31 “ Daily Dose” posting, Steele muses: “ When you fail a professional licensing test, and are given a chance to review your exam, would it be ethical to quickly scribble down the questions [and] answers and then sell the crib sheet on eBay?” And in an earlier “ Blawg” entry posted May 30, Steele offers: “ Want to relive studying for the bar? OK, that was a ridiculous question. But you can monitor one student’s preparations for the California bar exam, at A Girl Walks Into A Bar (Exam).” Steele weighs in on just about everything, from recent court verdicts to legal ethics abroad. His site also throws in miscellaneous tidbits, like books on legal ethics to check out. Steele doesn’t do this all on his own, though. Helping him out with the daily posts are John Dzienkowski, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law; Brad Wendel, a professor at Cornell Law School; David Hricik, a professor at Mercer University School of Law; and Laura Appleman, a criminal appellate defender at the Center for Appellate Litigation in New York City. — Julie O’Shea DIVORCE FIRM TO THE STARS Susan Kaye and Barbara Moser don’t drop names. But their confidential client list includes the wife of a rock star, professional athletes, authors and many venture capitalists and executives. Their firm, Kaye Moser, represents individuals with a high net worth, typically $5 million to $50 million, in divorce cases, estate planning and probate work. The two lawyers began their practice at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison but divorced themselves from the now-defunct firm 10 years ago to put out their own shingle. Since then, Kaye Moser, now composed of three women partners, has thrived. The firm is celebrating its anniversary Thursday with an open house at its offices at Steuart Street Tower. “Running a woman-owned business has been a wonderful and positive experience,” Kaye said. “It’s the best thing we ever did,” Moser added. “We love being together and it’s enabled us to lead the lives we want.” The anniversary event will also be a fundraiser for Kids’ Turn, a nonprofit group that provides educational workshops and services to parents and children going through a divorce. Kaye said the organization has been important to their clients. The program “reduces the rancor and increases the cooperation between the parents in resolving custody and visitation disputes,” Kaye said. And it enables kids to be “more articulate in [expressing] their needs.” Kaye Moser is also advocating a new approach to divorce cases. They recently registered domain names for sites to promote what they call mediation advocacy — having lawyers advise clients how to negotiate for themselves in mediation. “Some mediators feel it’s stepping on their toes” if a lawyer is telling the client what to say or how to behave, Moser said. “We call it coaching people.” — Brenda Sandburg

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