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  • 06 May 2014 10:20 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Please join me in congratulating the BALIF members who were recently elected (or re-elected) to the BALIF Board of Directors:


    Denise Bergin

    Pete Catalanotti

    Nick Clements

    Brandon Lawrence

    Felicia Medina

    Dmitri Pikman

    Meaghan Zore


    Law student representatives:

    Midori Hirai

    Joseph Rocha


    Thanks to all those who ran for the Director positions. We had a great turnout this year for the online elections, and it was great to see many familiar and new faces at the BALIF annual meeting and election happy hour on April 24. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next BALIF event!



    Julie Wilensky

    BALIF Board Secretary & CCBA Committee Chair

  • 29 Apr 2014 10:18 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Last Thursday evening, the results of this year's BALIF Board of Directors' election were announced at our Annual Meeting and I could not be more excited about our newest directors. I know the 2014-2015 BALIF Board will carry on and build upon the amazing legacy that is BALIF. Our annual board retreat will be in early May where all the outgoing, incoming and mid-term board members will meet to discuss this past year and the year that is to come. We invite feedback from our members, so please reach out to me or any of the other current board members if you have feedback about how the board can better serve its members and the Bay Area LGBT legal community. Thank you and see you at the next BALIF event! 

    John Unruh

    BALIF Board Treasurer & Gala Co-Chair

  • 22 Apr 2014 10:15 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF has important events planned over the next couple of weeks that you won't want to miss!

    This Thursday, April 24th, is BALIF's Annual Meeting and Election Happy Hour. Please join us at the Sausage Factory from 6-8:30pm for our happy hour for BALIF members, meet the candidates for the Board of Directors, and cast your ballots if you have not already voted online. The election results will be announced at the end of the evening. Good luck to all of our candidates!


    Also next Thursday, May 1st, is BALIF's second GIVE 'EM L! LGBT LADIES SALON & TALK-SHOW: THE JUDGES' EDITION!  We have an amazing panel of judges -- Angela Bradstreet, Teri Jackson, and Tara Flanagan -- who will share their perspectives from the bench and touch upon issues concerning women, LGBT, and women of color in the legal profession and judiciary. This Salon promises to be a lively discussion and offers a fun opportunity to network and mingle. Register online today!


    We look forward to seeing you!


    Leah Nutting

    BALIF Board Programs Committee Chair

  • 15 Apr 2014 10:03 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    It's time to mix it up a little! It was great to see everyone who came out to the BALIF mixer with CAOC & the Minority Bar Coalition this past Thursday, and hopefully everyone is geared up for our discussion about the LGBT legal and political developments in Israel on April 17th and our 'Give 'em L!!' LGBT Ladies Salon & Talk-Show: Judge's Edition coming up on May 1st!

    As we move towards the end of our year, I hope that everyone does their due diligence and votes in our BALIF elections for next year's Board of Directors! Your vote is your voice, and your voice counts, whether it's online or at the Sausage Factory on April 24th. We have a great group of dedicated people running for next year's Board, so go vote!    

    Midori Hirai

    BALIF Board Law Student Representative

  • 08 Apr 2014 9:51 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Today, we discussed, "What business development technique(s) have you tried in the last 30 days?  What worked?  What didn't?" 


    It was a fabulous buffet feast at The SF City Club.  I had the opportunity to lunch with nine other BALIF partners and firm owners to learn from their experience and insight with regards to business development.


    What a dynamic exchange of ideas to stimulate my own thinking about how to attract more, and better, clients.  Here's a sampling...

    • Utilizing online key-word searches through professional marketing companies to attract more leads;
    • Joining BNI and other networking and business referral group;
    • Hiring a life coach to identify core values of my practice;
    • Leveraging creativity to pinpoint and then expand a client's business needs;
    • Selling the "person", as opposed to the firm;
    • Identifying the business development medium that you're best suited for, and using it.

    I also loved meeting new colleagues and catching-up with old friends - both of which are invaluable resources to refer/receive business leads.


    This is part of BALIF's PARTNERS EXCHANGE - an ongoing effort to create a vibrant and thriving LGBT environment that invites networking and an exchange of business.  Here's a peek at the incredible ladies and gentlemen that make up the Exchange and the specialties they bring to our community:


    We're always looking to welcome new colleagues.  Shoot me an email if you're interested in joining:


    I look forward to seeing you soon!



    On Lu 

    BALIF Board Co-Chairs

  • 01 Apr 2014 9:44 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    In the true spirit of Spring cleaning, the BALIF Judiciary Committee is streamlining BALIF's judicial endorsement process.


    BALIF's founding mission is to seek to diversify the state and federal bench with LBGT judges. To further this goal, the BALIF Judiciary Committee has streamlined the process for securing BALIF endorsements for judicial candidates.


    Historically, the endorsement process required a plebiscite. This meant that candidates vetted by BALIF's Judiciary Committee and recommended for endorsement had to receive an affirmative vote of 30 percent (later reduced to 20 percent) of the BALIF membership. The plebiscite was time consuming, costly (requiring thousands of dollars in election administration costs) and ineffective: in most instances, the required vote percentage was not achieved, and the BALIF Board would then take up the issue at its next regularly calendared meeting.


    On March 17, 2014, the BALIF Board unanimously voted to adopt the recommendation of the BALIF Judiciary Committee to do away with the plebiscite. Going forward, judicial candidates vetted and recommended by the BALIF Judiciary Committee for endorsement will automatically receive BALIF's endorsement unless three or more members of the BALIF Board request discussion and affirmative action by the BALIF Board as a whole. This streamlined process ensures that BALIF will continue to thoroughly vet candidates for the state and federal bench, and complete the endorsement process without delay and added expense.  


    We are the BALIF Judiciary Committee...and we want to recruit you!


    Diversifying the bench is a multi-faceted process. The BALIF Judiciary Committee and its Attorney and Judicial Advisory Committees are working hard to identify qualified LGBT candidates for the bench. The path to the bench includes several stages of formal evaluation, which include evaluation by the State Commission, the Commission on Judicial Nominations and Evaluations (JNE), and local county bar association judicial commissions. Each of these commissions need greater diversity and input from the LGBT legal community, and BALIF is urging its members to participate in the formal evaluation process by:


    1.       Applying to be a JNE Commissioner: The California State Bar's Commission on Judicial Nominations (JNE) assists the Governor in the judicial selection process by providing independent, comprehensive, accurate and fair evaluations of candidates for judicial appointment and nomination. We need LGBT representation on this 37-member commission. Please consider applying: Us/JudicialNomineesEvaluation.aspx. The deadline for applications is June 1, 2014.


    2.       Participating in your Local Bar Judiciary Committee: Each of the San Francisco Bay Area bar associations has a judiciary committee that regularly vets judicial candidates in contract with the Governor's Office. If you are active with your local county bar, or want to be, this an excellent way to increase LGBT participating in the judicial vetting process. BALIF can help facilitate your involvement with your local bar association judiciary committee. Email us at


    3.       Joining BALIF's Judiciary Committee: The Committee's ongoing work program is sowing the seeds for greater LGBT diversity on our state and federal benches. Get involved. Join us. We have lots for you to do. Email us at

    Grow our Judiciary with LGBT judges.


    There are an unprecedented number of vacancies on the state and federal bench - an historic opportunity for the LGBT community. There is one vacancy on the California Supreme Court, and at least two vacancies on the California Court of Appeals, First Appellate District. There are vacancies at many Bay Area Superior Courts. Some positions on the Northern District Court of California bench also are open.  


    Currently, however, there are no LGBT Article III judges in the Northern District of California. There are no LGBT judges on the California Supreme Court. There is only one openly gay justice serving on the California Court of Appeals.


    The time to get involved is now. Help grow our judiciary with LGBT judges by getting involved in the evaluation and selection process. We need you.


    For more information on how you can help, contact



    Elizabeth Pritzker & Andrew Vu

    BALIF Board Judiciary Committee Co-Chairs

  • 25 Mar 2014 9:39 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Happy Spring! We at BALIF have been actively planning a number of events to keep your social and professional calendars full. Here are two happening this week.


    This Thursday, March 27, from 6:00 to 8:00, join us for our March Happy Hour at Fusion Lounge (124 Ellis Street), graciously hosted by Courtroom Sciences. Have a drink, some good eats, and mingle with friends. And stay for the drag show that starts immediately after the Happy Hour!


    For those of you looking for a job or a career change, bring your resume and join us this Saturday, March 29, from 12:30 to 6:00, for BALIF's Second Annual CAREER & NETWORKING EXPO. Details, including registration info, are below, but with over 40 organizations presenting, a number of employers hiring, resume reviews, and panels that will teach you the skills necessary to land that job, you cannot miss this opportunity! And, join us for our post-Expo reception 111 Minna Art Gallery, from 6:00 to 7:30, generously sponsored by Robert Half Legal, to put those skills to work!


    Don't miss these events!





    Mario Choi

    BALIF Board Young Lawyers & 

    Law Student Programs Committee Chair

  • 13 Mar 2014 9:36 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    A great way to serve the LGBT legal community and become more involved in BALIF is to join BALIF's Board of Directors. BALIF's Directors are elected by the BALIF membership, and each Director holds office for two years. Any BALIF member is welcome to run for the Board or nominate another BALIF member. BALIF's bylaws reflect the Board's commitment to "equality, parity, and diversity," and we specifically encourage people of color, women, and transgender and/or gender non-conforming individuals to run for the Board. All Directors must attend BALIF's Board Retreat the evening of Friday, May 9 and all day Saturday, May 10, 2014.


    To run for the Board or nominate someone else, please send a candidate statement of up to 250 words to Julie Wilensky ( and BALIF's Administrator, Katie Carlson ( by April 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm. BALIF's bylaws require gender parity on the Board, with a certain number of positions allocated to Directors who identify as male, female, and gender non-conforming. So if you are seeking a position, please indicate the category with which you identify.


    Elections will be online starting on April 10, and there will be an opportunity to vote in person at BALIF's annual general membership meeting on Tuesday, April 24, 2014 from 6 - 8:30 p.m. The results will be announced at the end of the meeting.


    Questions about the Board? Thinking about seeking a position? Feel free to contact Julie Wilensky at

  • 12 Mar 2014 9:35 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Although we continue to relish over this year's successful gala and the amazing photos you can view here, our committees are busy organizing a whole variety of upcoming events! From BAILF's Career and Networking Expo on March 29th to an East Bay Family Friendly Social on April 5th to a Mixer with Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and the Minority Bar Coalition (MBC) on April 10th, opportunities to be social and connect with attorneys and law students from around the Bay Area abound! Check out all of the upcoming opportunities to network and just be social below!


    The BALIF committees are also busy taking action for LGBT rights! The Amicus Committee just drafted and filed an amicus curiae brief last week with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the right of same-sex couples in Utah and Oklahoma to marry. The Judiciary Committee continues to encourage and promote LGBT judges to the bench and the BALIF Board of Directors organized and drafted a letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer urging her to veto SB 1062.


    A great way to serve the LGBT legal community and become more involved in BALIF is to join BALIF's Board of Directors and the time to elect our new directors is just around the corner! To run for the Board or nominate someone else, please send a candidate statement of up to 250 words to Julie Wilensky ( and BALIF's Administrator, Katie Carlson ( by April 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm.


    Hope to see you all at one or two of the many upcoming events! 



    Jennifer Orthwein

    BALIF Board Communications Chair

  • 04 Mar 2014 9:32 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Greetings BALIF-ers!

    Thank you for all who attended BALIF's 34th Annual Gala! It was an incredible event with amazing company, food and atmosphere. A big round of applause is in order for BALIF's Gala Chairs Lilah Sutphen and John Unruh and the Gala Committee for putting on yet another outstanding party.

    Coming up quickly is BALIF's hugely successful 2nd Annual BALIF Career Expo on Saturday, March 29, 2014 from 12:30pm-6pm hosted at Golden Gate University. This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for law students, baby lawyers, and attorneys looking for a change of scenery. We will have panel discussions about how to network, what to do if you don't find that dream job, and what kinds of law careers are out there. Then after the panels, we will host our Career Fiar with over 30 employers from all fields of law from big firms, solo practitioners, non-profits and government agencies to share with you what they do and how they can help you find that next job.

    If you are an attorney and interested in tabling for this event, please contact Mario Choi at

    We look forward to seeing you there!

    Dustin Helmer

    BALIF Board Law Student Representative

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