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You might say Howard Slavitt is the antithesis of David E. Kelly, the lawyer turned prolific television writer and producer. After winning an Academy Award, Slavitt seemed primed for a career in Hollywood. But he walked away from it, opting instead for the less glamorous life of a lawyer. “Sitting in a room writing a screenplay and pitching a new product every three or six months didn’t appeal to me as much as working cooperatively with other professionals in a team atmosphere,” Slavitt said. “I also like the analytical reasoning involved in being a lawyer.” Slavitt, who was just elevated to partner at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass in San Francisco, went to film school at the University of Southern California. In 1989 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected a film he wrote and directed as one of the best student films of the year. Set in the 1930s, the film depicts a father-son conflict. Slavitt said he was influenced by Jean Renoir’s 1939 film “Rules of the Game” and Edouard Manet’s painting “Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe (Lunch on the Grass).” Despite the thrill of early recognition, he decided the life of a screenwriter and filmmaker wasn’t for him. “I realized I’m not Woody Allen,” Slavitt said. “I think I could have had a successful career but I didn’t think I would be one of the five great filmmakers of my generation.” Slavitt sees some similarities between screenwriting and the law, which he said is another medium for telling a story. “You start off a film with an idea,” he said. “Litigation is in a lot of ways the same. You start off with a story and at the end of the process it’s rarely better than what you started with. So you better have a darn good story.” As a lawyer, Slavitt has been able to keep a hand in the entertainment industry. He worked with partner Jeffrey Knowles representing music publishers in their copyright infringement suit against Napster Inc. and the Recording Industry Association of America in litigation against MP3Board Inc. “He brings that artist perspective with him, which may cast a Technicolor slant on his rhetoric,” Knowles said. At the same time, “he’s skilled in the classic sense of having good logic and reasoning and persuasive powers.” Slavitt joined Coblentz in 1996 after a stint at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. Besides building a legal practice, he’s managed to pursue a second career of sorts as a nature landscape photographer. “He gets up at unbelievable hours and travels to odd locations,” Knowles said. There is a “very impressive bunch [of photographs] in his office.” Slavitt said photography adds an artistic dimension to his life. “I find law to be very creative, but it’s not visual,” Slavitt said. “Photography involves looking at light and looking at composition.” “I go hiking with my camera equipment and don’t think about anything,” he said. “For me it’s a great balance.”

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