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When he joined the Army Reserve more than three years ago, San Francisco attorney Derrick Watson thought there was little chance he’d ever be called up. Now, as the nation goes to war, Lt. Watson finds himself waiting for the phone to ring. “You get the phone call, and that’s it,” the Farella Braun & Martel special counsel said. “There’s nothing you can do.” Watson’s uncertainty about the future is shared by other lawyers who are either in the Reserves or the National Guard. Their units could be activated without notice. Their lives could be tossed into upheaval and their careers put on hold. “I am currently a naval officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, currently serving with the U.S. 3rd Fleet,” wrote attorney Paul Stephan in an e-mail to The Recorder. “Up until four days ago, I was a law partner at the firm of Selman Breitman in San Francisco. “Tonight I am standing watch with the regular Navy in what can only be described as a surrealistic experience.” Attorney Adrian Driscoll, along with Watson, is a member of the 75th Legal Support Organization with headquarters at Moffett Federal Airfield, in the Bay Area. The group is composed of 30 lawyers and 20 paralegals and secretaries. “We’re always counseling soldiers of their legal rights,” said Driscoll, a major with 14 years in the Reserve. For example, soldiers might have credit card or marital problems, while others may need to get their wills written and powers of attorney in order, the Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley partner said. “We train and are able to perform the full range of legal services,” he said. “The beauty of reserves is that it’s like a citizens’ army.” Fresno Deputy District Attorney Paul Hokokian is a member of the California Air National Guard. Before sunset on Sept. 11, he was activated. “I was out at [guard headquarters] for some regular training, but it soon became apparent that I wasn’t leaving,” Lt. Col. Hokokian said. “My orders say it’ll [the activation] go through Nov. 1. I expect it to be extended six months, and I believe it will be two years.” Meanwhile, Hokokian, a former State Bar Board of Governors member, returns to the prosecutor’s office once a week to tend to unfinished business. Although he remains close to home and doesn’t expect to be sent abroad, his life has still been disrupted. “I’ve traded in my suit and tie for a camouflage uniform, polished boots and a 9 mm pistol,” said the commander of the 144th Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron. While none of the reservists or national guardsmen regrets maintaining his military status, they all feel some trepidation about the future. Watson, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, wishes his financial future were more certain. He recently signed a contract to buy a yet-to-be-built condominium in North Beach. His down payment is made and escrow is open, and he said he expects to close in a few weeks. One of Watson’s concerns is meeting the condo payments if he’s called to active duty. A first lieutenant’s pay is nowhere near what a lawyer draws from a firm such as Farella Braun. “If I get called up, I don’t know what would happen,” he said. “I’m sitting and waiting and seeing what will happen.” He’s hoping his firm might make up the difference between his Army pay and his attorney’s salary. But that’s unsettled, too. “We’ve never had this issue come before us,” said William Schlinkert, Farella’s managing partner. “We’ll need to address it to see what we should be doing.” Then there’s naval officer Stephan, on duty with the 3rd Fleet, who’s serving with sailors only a few years older than his 12-year-old son. “Just watching these sailors — they look so young to me — carry out their duties makes you realize how much this country relies on our youth for its defense and its future,” he wrote.

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