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  • 07 Sep 2012 4:54 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Join BALIF’s Gala Committee and play a part in throwing the most fabulous gay lawyer party in town!

    BALIF’s Annual Gala will be on March 15, 2013 at the Bently Reserve. Between now and then we need a few creative, organized, and motivated BALIF members to join the Gala Committee to make it happen. The Gala serves two important functions – it is both a great night out on the town for our members and supporters, and it is the mechanism through which BALIF raises the majority of funds it uses to support its other activities, ranging from mentoring programs, amicus briefs, happy hours and other social events, community outreach, scholarships, and supporting gay and gay-friendly members of the judiciary.

    Intrigued? Contact Gala Co-Chairs Jamie Dupree and John Robert Unruh at gala@balif.org for more information. We’d love to hear your ideas. And be sure to put March 15, 2013 on your calendar for the-can’t-be-missed BALIF Annual Gala!

  • 25 Jul 2012 12:42 PM | Deleted user

    Recipients and Donors to be Honored on August 21st at Reception Hosted and Sponsored by Orrick LLP

    Novak Druce + Quigg LLC an industry-leading intellectual property firm with strong ties to the Bay Area, recently jump-started the 2012 BALIF Lavender Law Scholarship Fund with a $5,000 donation. The scholarship program is dedicated to sending Bay Area law students to the National LGBT Bar Association’s annual conference and career fair. Lavender Law 2012 will be held in Washington D.C. between August 24 and 26. Thanks to the generous support of Novak Druce, BALIF will be able to sponsor at least six scholarship recipients to attend Lavender Law.  One student will receive special recognition as the Novak Druce Scholar. This scholarship will be awarded to a BALIF law student who has demonstrated an interest in intellectual property law.

    Novak Druce + Quigg LLC is a firm at the forefront of intellectual property law with offices in Houston, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., and West Palm Beach. Novak Druce was named to the 2012 National Law Journal’s Midsize Hot List and recently welcomed Executive Partner, Donald J. Quigg, a former Deputy Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In addition to an impressive legal portfolio, Novak Druce consistently contributes within its community. Novak Druce + Quigg LLP recently sponsored and hosted the GLINTA (an association of LGBT trademark professionals) Celebration at the International Trademark Association’s annual meeting in Washington D.C. In San Francisco, the firm is a Partner Level Sponsor of BALIF (the oldest and largest LGBT bar association in the world.)

    The scholarship fund has received additional support from many BALIF attorneys:

    Todd Norris
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC

    Dennis Raglin

    Jamie Dupree
    Futterman Dupree Dodd Croley Maier LLP

    Laura Maechtlen
    Seyfarth Shaw LLP

    Nicolas Kacprowski
    Kirkland & Ellis LLP

    Peter Catalanotti
    Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP

    Boone Callaway
    Law Offices of Callaway & Wolf

    Jane Kahn
    Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

    BALIF continues its search for additional sponsors, all of whom will be honored at a very special reception being hosted and sponsored by Orrick on August 21st. Information on how to become a sponsor is available at balif.org or by contacting the BALIF Board at lawstudentrep@balif.org

  • 23 Jul 2012 2:03 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    We won the prestigious State Bar of California Diversity Award in the bar association category. The award recognizes the outstanding efforts made by a bar association, law firm or an individual attorney in promoting diversity in the legal profession. Recent winners in the bar association category include the Alameda County Bar Association, Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, and the Lesbian & Gay Lawyers of LA. More details about the award and a list of former winners can be found here.

    BALIF submitted ten-pages of nomination materials to the State Bar summarizing all of the important work we’ve been doing over the past few years, including:

    • Fought Prop. 8 through rallys, marches, fundraising, education, donations, and filing of Amicus Briefs.
    • Exploded membership growth -- from 400 to 700 in the past two years.
    • Launched the monumental BALIF “It Gets Better” Campaign to fight against the alarming rise in suicides among LGBT youth.
    • Collaborated in the election of Judge Victoria Kolakowski and other efforts to promote diversity on the bench and in local political office.
    • Jumpstarted the “Connections” LGBT mentorship program to included 40+ pairings.
    • Raised $150,000+ at annual Gala to support BALIF’s various programs and scholarships.
    • Donated thousands of dollars in scholarship money to law students engaged in public interest work.
    • Increased community outreach and co-sponsorship of special events and volunteer projects with sister bar organizations and the Minority Bar Coalition.
    • Created the “BALIF Stimulus Package” for non-working LGBT attorneys, consisting of free membership, internal job site, and networking events.
    • Overhauled website to include an events calendar, internal job site, and searchable attorney profiles.
    • Provided LGBT-related MCLE training for Bay Area legal professionals.

    To see BALIF’s complete nomination materials, click below.
    BALIF Nomination Form.pdf

    Congratulations to the 2011-2012 BALIF Board for all of the blood, sweat, and tears invested. And to all of our members who take such pride in this organization - BALIF is only as strong as our members. We owe special thanks to former Board member Spencer Jones for coordinating our application, and to Emi Gusukuma (AABA President) for nominating BALIF for this award.

  • 18 Jul 2012 1:55 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Hello BALIF Members and Friends,

    As you may know, BALIF joined the fight to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and filed our Amicus Brief in the Golinski 9th Circuit case this past Tuesday. For this week’s Co-Chair Statement, we celebrate the incredible men and women that made this effort happen…

    BALIF’s effort was led by Board Member Nick Kacprowski. Nick is a litigation partner in Kirkland & Ellis LLP's SF office. His practice focuses primarily on complex commercial litigation. He has served as trial counsel in trials in both state and federal court and before arbitration panels.

    BALIF Amicus Committee member Leah Nutting Leah reviewed multiple drafts and conducted research for the brief. Leah is a contract attorney at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP’s SF office, where her practice includes patent litigation, antitrust litigation, and SEC investigations. Leah is also a member of the American Constitution Society's Bay Area Lawyer Chapter.

    Board Member Peter Catalanotti led BALIF’s outreach efforts to our sister bar organizations. Pete specializes in professional indemnity insurance defense. From 2009 – 2011, Pete was named a "Super Lawyer Rising Star" by Law & Politics Magazine. As a result of Pete’s efforts, 11 other bar associations joined BALIF’s Amicus Brief, including Bar Association of San Francisco, Alameda County Bar Association, and Santa Clara County Bar Association.

    The Amicus Brief was drafted by Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Kirkland ’s team consists of litigation partner Jason Parish (DC) and litigation associates Shireen Barday (NY) and Andrew Welz (DC). Jason, Shireen, and Andrew all share a strong commitment to pro bono work. Jason was a member of the Kirkland team that was honored in 2010 by the D.C. Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights with an Outstanding Achievement Award for work in fair housing. Summer associates Steve Hagenbuch ( University of Chicago ) and Jennifer Berman ( University of Pennsylvania ) provided invaluable assistance with research and drafting. And legal assistants Ken Sturek and Sarah Farley and secretary Carleigh McClelland supported the team in finalizing the brief and filing it with the Court.

    BALIF’s Amicus Brief has two major sections. The Plaintiffs requested that we include the first section – a summary of the federal rights and benefits denied legally-married same sex couples. Those arguments were presented at length in the trial court, and were relied on in the lower court opinion, but Plaintiffs did not have the space to include the discussion in their brief given the strict word limits on appellate briefs. We were proud and honored that out of the 12 total amicus briefs filed, Plaintiffs trusted BALIF to draft such an important section and believed that BALIF was a strong enough voice that the Court would consider our discussion. The second section argues how DOMA harms the legal profession. This is a novel perspective that has not been briefed by the parties or other amici in this case or in the 1st Circuit DOMA case; and one that is likely to interest the Panel. BALIF's Amicus Brief is available here.

    Please join us in congratulating and thanking the team that led BALIF’s amicus initiative.

    On Lu and Chelsea HaleyNelson
    BALIF Co-Chairs
  • 11 Jul 2012 9:35 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    On Tuesday, July 10, BALIF will be filing our Amicus Brief in Golinski v. OPM, which is currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.  Our effort is led by BALIF Board Member Nick Kacprowski and Amicus Committee member Leah Nutting.  The brief, drafted by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, argues that Section 3 of DOMA - which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples' valid marriages - burdens legal professionals, their employers, and the legal profession as a whole.  Specifically, government employees are not able to access the same employment benefits as their straight counterparts because of DOMA.  These include health insurance, family and medical leave, and retirement benefits.  The financial burden placed on employers and employees by DOMA is estimated to cost between $2,000 and $2,500 per employee.  DOMA burdens the legal profession by limiting the ability of LGBT legal professionals to pursue the career of their choice, and limits the federal government's ability to compete with the private sector in recruiting and retaining qualified legal professionals. 


    Ms. Golinski, a staff attorney employed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in  San Francisco , was denied health insurance benefits for her same-sex spouse. In an Administrative Order, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski ruled that the denial of benefits violates the Ninth Circuit's employment policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the federal Office of Personal Management ignored the Order, citing the enforcement of DOMA. In February 2012, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White held DOMA unconstitutional.  In fact, the last four courts to consider the question have all found Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional.


    Board Member Peter Catalanotti is leading the effort to invite our sister bar organizations to join BALIF's Amicus Brief.  To date, ten have signed-on.  A copy of BALIF's Amicus Brief will be available on our website shortly. If your bar association is interested in joining BALIF's Amicus Brief, please contact Pete immediately at outreach@balif.org.  


    Late on the eve of Independence Day, we learned that the DOJ asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Golinski.  This development demonstrates that everyone - including the government - desires to resolve this matter quickly.  DOMA's days are numbered, and we look forward to finally putting DOMA out of its (and our) misery.

    Click here to read the brief.

  • 30 Jun 2012 2:18 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Happy Pride!  What an amazing week and weekend celebrating the diversity, strength, promise and love of our community.  Thank you to everyone who joined us, yesterday, at the 4th Annual Jones Day Pride Breakfast.  We were honored to have California Senate Majority Leader, Ellen Corbett, join us this year. Senator Corbett shared some inspiring words with us before marching in the Pride Parade.  Thank you again to Jones Day Partner, Bob Mittelstaedt, and the entire Jones Day Pride Breakfast planning committee for organizing such a fun and family friendly event.

  • 28 Jun 2012 12:27 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Last year, firms and BALIF attorneys helped sponsor the registration and travel costs for 10 law students attending the Lavender Law Conference in Los Angeles . This year we would love to help even more students get the experience of a lifetime at Lavender Law 2012. This year's conference will take place in Washington DC , the epicenter of law in the United States . Scholarship recipients as well as sponsors will be acknowledged at a reception leading up to the annual conference, which takes place in September. There will be more details later this summer. In the meantime, if you are interested in donating as a sponsor please contact your BALIF Student Representatives at lawstudentrep@balif.org.

  • 13 Jun 2012 9:00 AM | Deleted user
    Wednesday June 13, 2012 · 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

    Sacramento County Superior Court
    720 9th Street

    Rally To Support Adequate Court Funding

    Drastic budget cuts will substantially impact equal access to Justice to the courts. Stand together with the legal community to protect the courts and access to justice for all Californians.

    Click here for details.
  • 05 Jun 2012 11:25 AM | Deleted user

    The Ninth Circuit issued a brief order today on the challenge to Prop. 8 that is being litigated in the case of Perry v. Brown. The court denied a petition for rehearing en banc, leaving in place the Ninth Circuit three-Judge Panel’s ruling from February that found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Federal Constitution. Upon a vote of the non-recused active judges of the Ninth Circuit, the matter failed to receive a majority of votes in favor of rehearing.

    The order from the Ninth Circuit is stayed pending the filing of a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, and if the writ is granted, the stay will continue until the Supreme Court’s final decision. The Appellants have 90 days from today to file a writ. If the Supreme Court declines to take the case, then the Panel’s February decision will stand, and Prop 8 will be unenforceable.

    You can read the full decision here.

  • 31 May 2012 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    In a unanimous 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that Section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. The Court concluded in Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services that Congress’ denial of federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples (and their surviving spouses) violates constitutional principles of equal protection and federalism. The ruling came in a case filed in 2009 by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders on behalf of a group of married same-sex couples who were denied federal spousal benefits such as Social Security and government employee benefits, as well as a parallel case filed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Today’s opinion upheld a 2010 decision in which U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled DOMA unconstitutional.

    The Court applied a heightened rational basis scrutiny to the challenged sections of DOMA, finding that in the past the Supreme Court has "intensified scrutiny of purported justifications where minorities are subject to discrepant treatment and have limited the permissible justifications." With regard to Federalism, the Court found that the "Supreme Court decisions in the last fifty years call for closer scrutiny of government action touching upon minority group interests and of federal action in areas of traditional state concern."

    Writing for a 3-judge panel, Judge Michael Boudin stated that there is no “connection between DOMA’s treatment of same-sex couples and its asserted goal of strengthening the bonds and benefits to society of heterosexual marriage,” and that “Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.” The Court stayed its decision to permit the parties an opportunity to request review by the United States Supreme Court.

    BALIF applauds the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on this momentous decision and on affirming equality for same-sex couples and LGBT Americans!

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