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  • 06 Nov 2013 2:13 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Greetings from the Programs Committee! November is finally here, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and there is much for which to be thankful for!

    Please join BALIF and other local minority bar associations next Thursday, November 14th for the 2013 Minority Bar Coalition Unity Awards Reception at UC Hastings. Come celebrate the extraordinary contributions of this year's honorees, including BALIF's very own Chelsea HaleyNelson.

    Also, mark your calendar for Thursday, November 21st for BALIF's happy hour mixer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The Programs and Social Committees are planning a great evening for mingling with fellow BALIF members and NCLR representatives and supporters.

    We hope to see you at both events. Have a great week!

    Leah Nutting
    BALIF Programs Committee Chair
  • 29 Oct 2013 10:12 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Dear BALIF Members and Friends-

    Greeting from the Public Relations Committee! We have been keeping busy getting the word out about all the amazing work BALIF members are doing. Last week was an exciting and busy week for BALIF. First, the Judiciary Committee held a kickoff reception for the LGBT Judges Council and Advisors Council. The LGBT Judges Council includes Bay Area active and retired judges who will serve as informal mentors to LGBT attorneys who aspire to join the bench and the Advisors Council includes senior and well-connected LGBT attorneys to build a pipeline for the bench. Several judges spoke at the reception, held at Keker & Van Nest LLP. Kudos to Andrew Vu and Elizabeth Pritzker, Judiciary Committee Co-chairs for a wonderful kickoff event and great work in increasing the LGBT presence on the bench.

    The Amicus Committee was also busy, filing amicus curiae briefs Friday in the Hawaii and Nevada Ninth Circuit challenges to those states' marriage bans. A copy of the press release can be found here. Kudos to Nick Kacprowski, Amicus Committee Chair, for leading the charge.

    The Social Action Committee helped beautify Glen Park Elementary Sunday and is taking a leadership role in a coalition of organizations mobilizing to help the LGBT crisis in Russia. Kudos to Social Action Committee Co-chairs Jessica Bogo and Dmitri Pikman.

    The Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) Committee led by Julie Wilensky is working with the CCBA to pursue legislation guaranteeing inmates in California access to prescribed medicines, including hormone maintenance therapy for transgender inmates. A copy of the press release can be found here.

    Here on the Public Relations Committee, we are gearing up to expand our social media presence. Email if you are interested in getting involved in this effort. We are also creating a directory of BALIF members who are experts in their fields to provide to our media contacts. It's a great way to get your name out there, so if you are an expert in your field and want to be included, email

    Denise Bergin
    Public Relations Committee Chair
  • 29 Oct 2013 9:03 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    For immediate release: Please contact Nick Kacprowski BALIF Board Member & Amicus Committee Chair (415) 439-1989,

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom Files Amicus Brief in Nevada and Hawaii Marriage Equality Cases

    Brief argues civil unions are inherently unequal and unconstitutional

    OCT. 25, 2013 – San Francisco – Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) filed an amicus curiae brief today with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the right of same-sex couples in Nevada and Hawaii to marry. A three-judge panel from the court will hear Jackson v. Abercrombie, on appeal from the District of Hawaii, and Sevcik v. Sandoval, on appeal from the District of Nevada, with the oral argument schedule to be set.

    “The Nevada and Hawaii cases are critically important, because they will likely be the first time a federal court of appeals evaluates a state same sex marriage ban in the wake of the Perry and Windsor decisions,” said Nickolas Kacprowski, partner at Kirkland & Ellis in San Francisco and chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee, referring to the historic decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of this year upholding marriage equality in California and extending federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. “The cases in Nevada and Hawaii will be key precedents in the effort to attain marriage equality in all 50 states, and therefore the need to achieve a favorable outcome before the Ninth Circuit cannot be overstated.”

    The brief argues that the bans on same-sex marriage in Nevada and Hawaii stigmatize gay men and lesbians and their families, expose them to increased discrimination, and deprive them of benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Notably, the availability of civil unions (in Hawaii) or domestic partnerships (in Nevada) for same-sex couples does not cure the marriage bans’ constitutional deficiencies, but creates impermissible state-sponsored separation of a disfavored class.

    More than thirty other civil rights groups joined BALIF on the brief, with pro bono support from the law firm of Munger, Tolles, & Olsen. Jerome C. Roth and Nicole S. Phillis of Munger, Tolles, & Olsen led the effort.

    Click here to view the Press Release as a PDF


    About BALIF

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is the nation’s oldest and largest bar association of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the field of law. Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members’ interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students and legal workers.

  • 29 Oct 2013 8:38 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    For immediate release: Please contact

    Julie Wilensky BALIF Board Member & BALIF’s Conference of California Bar Associations Committee Chair

    (510) 839-6824

    Jennifer Orthwein BALIF Board Member

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom Pursues Legislation to Guarantee Hormone Therapy Maintenance for Transgender Inmates

    Resolutions Approved by Conference of California Bar Associations; Effort Moves to Sacramento

    OCT. 29, 2013 - San Francisco – Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is pushing for legislation to require county and city jails and state prisons in California to provide prescribed medicines, including hormone therapies, to inmates, which would significantly protect the rights of transgender inmates. Two BALIF-sponsored resolutions on this topic were approved by the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) at the CCBA’s annual conference of delegates held October 11-13, 2013. One of the core missions of the CCBA is to help the resolutions approved by the Conference become law. In 2013, sixteen CCBA-sponsored or supported resolutions were approved by the California Legislature and became law.

    "We are excited to have the support of so many local bar associations on this important issue,” said Elizabeth Pritzker, BALIF board member and CCBA delegate. “In the coming months, we are committed to working with CCBA's lobbyist, as well as with fellow supporters and our local State legislators, to bring this to the California Legislature, testify at legislative hearings, and get a bill enacted into law."

    If enacted into law, BALIF’s resolutions will significantly increase access to medical care for transgender inmates, for whom there are no policies or regulations at the city and local level to guide correctional and medical personnel for proper evaluation, assessment, and provision of medical care, and who often encounter extreme bias and misunderstanding by correctional and

    medical staff. The proposals will also provide an enforcement mechanism for failure to provide adequate medical care, which currently does not exist at the state or local level.

    Access to appropriate medical care, including hormones, is necessary to prevent serious medical problems for transgender individuals in prisons and jails. “For transgender individuals, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and attempts, and self-injurious behavior such as cutting and auto-castration are just some of the physical and mental health risks associated with not being able to access adequate and appropriate medical care. These problems are exacerbated as a result of withdrawal from the hormones,” explained Jennifer Orthwein, BALIF board member and pro bono attorney for the Transgender Law Center. “Resistance to providing prescribed hormones often revolves around the belief that treatments for gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria are still experimental. However, we are increasingly seeing this argument fail as hormone treatment has become a widely accepted form of treatment for gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria.”

    Click here to view the Press Release as a PDF


    About BALIF

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is the nation’s oldest and largest bar association of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the field of law. Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members’ interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students and legal workers.

  • 16 Oct 2013 9:09 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    BALIF Members and Friends-

    Calling all those eager to improve the lives of others! The Social Action Committee is in high gear, with two exciting initiatives launching his month. And please welcome Dmitri Pikman of ALRP: our new co-chair of the Social Action Committee!

    First, we're excited to announce our Fall BALIF Service Day at Glen Park Elementary from 10am - 2pm on October 26, 2013. BALIF will be assisting GPE along with other community members in their grounds beautification project, planting trees, installing an irrigation system, and amending soil. This a great opportunity to help the community, soak up some sunshine, and enjoy the company of great people. Click HERE to register!

    We're also excited to announce BALIF's campaign to assist with the LGBT crisis in Russia. Led by Dmitri and Stan Sarkisov, BALIF is working in cooperation with multiple groups across the country including the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Council for Global Equality to identify and execute initiatives to help improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Russia. The campaign is designed to be holistic-addressing more pressing concerns with the upcoming Olympics and with immigration possibilities and also identify and execute programs to assist with long-term improvement. If you are interested in assisting with this effort, please email Dmitri at

    Jessica Bogo
    BALIF Social Action Committee Co-Chair
  • 08 Oct 2013 10:47 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    BALIF members are experts in almost every legal specialization from antitrust to family law and we want to leverage our extensive media contacts list to raise the profiles of our experts. When a journalist needs an expert on securities law, prison law, employment law, or whatever your specialization is, she'll call you for that quote.

    If you want to be included in the BALIF Expert Directory,
    please send a short email with the following to

    Name, title and place of business

    Fields and/or sub-fields you are an expert in (E.g., Employment and ERISA)

    No more than 500 words on what makes you an expert: specific work experience, length of experience, published articles or books, and speaking appearances related to your topic.
    Please reply only if you can truly be considered an expert in your field; general guidelines are at least 7-10 years of practice and/or additional qualifications that separate you from other attorneys.
  • 07 Oct 2013 10:08 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    BALIF Board Members and Friends-

    BALIF Judiciary 2.0 launched !

    In this first week of October, as the justices of the United States Supreme Court begin a new term, we are excited to announce that BALIF has kicked off a very ambitious work plan for BALIF's Judiciary Committee this coming year. Our Judiciary Committee has long served as a key endorsement mechanism for LGBT candidates seeking positions on the federal and state judiciary. The Committee's new work plan is to supplement these efforts with a series of new initiatives that are designed to identify qualified LGBT judicial candidates, and to support and groom those candidates for successful appointment to the bench.

    The Judiciary Committee had quite a busy summer. We reformulated the Committee's goals and work plan for the year; recruited a brand new committee, bringing on a total of 17 committee members, and establishing 10 subcommittees spearheaded by the committee.

    The Committee's new strategic goals for the year are: establish ties with the Minority Bars Judiciary Committees to share intelligence and efforts regarding judicial appointments; establish connections to other CA state, out of state, and national LGBT judiciary committees regarding judicial appointments of LGBT candidates; establish connection to the Governor's Office; work to place LGBT / BALIF members on Bay Area county judiciary committees such as BASF Judiciary Committee; Alameda Judiciary Committee; San Mateo, Santa Clara; establish an LGBT Judges Council to advise our Committee and mentor our judicial candidates; establish an Advisors Council composed of senior LGBT attorneys from our community to build a pipeline and mentor our community for the bench; kick off a summit of LGBT Judges in the Bay Area, Advisors Council, and LGBT judiciary committees; revisit the feasibility of the BALIF plebiscite while continuing the important work of the BALIF endorsement process; and establish a Media Plan & Campaign for awareness of LGBT Judiciary issues.

    In an effort to bring attention to the need for more LGBT diversification in judicial appointments, in July, BALIF and AABA co-sponsored a historic -- "Shattering the Judicial LGBT Glass Ceiling" Event, at Orrick featuring out LGBT jurists: Justice Rives Kistler (Oregon Supreme Court); Justice Sabrina McKenna (Hawaii Supreme Court); Justice Barbara Lenk (Massachusetts Supreme Court); and Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu (N.D. California). We had over 100 attendees at the standing room only event.

    It's going to be quite an ambitious and busy upcoming year!

    Andrew Vu & Elizabeth Pritzker
    BALIF Judiciary Committee Co-Chairs
  • 02 Oct 2013 10:06 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Hello BALIF Members and Friends-

    I hope everyone is enjoying the fall sunshine - I'm thrilled that it's finally the season for root beer floats.

    In committee news, BALIF's California Conference of Bar Associations (CCBA) Committee is gearing up to represent BALIF next week at this year's conference in San Jose. BALIF is sponsoring several proposed resolutions seeking to amend the California Penal Code to require medical providers in prisons and jails to provide appropriate medical treatment to transgender inmates. If you'll be in San Jose on October 11, please join BALIF's delegation and other CCBA delegates in kicking off the conference LGBT-ish style with a happy hour at Brix Nightclub.

    Don't forget to mark your calendars for BALIF's October events. Meet and greet your fellow BALIF members at happy hour on October 10, at Osha Thai in SF's Financial District. On Saturday, October 26, BALIF members will join other members of the community to beautify Glen Park Elementary. As we say in my home state of Minnesota : Come With!

    Julie Wilensky
    BALIF Secretary & CCBA Committee Chair
  • 25 Sep 2013 10:36 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    BALIF Members and Friends-

    Fall is officially here, which means (mostly) warm days in San Francisco, the Folsom and Castro Street fairs, and the work of the 2014 Gala Committee begins! I am honored to be co-chairing this committee for the third year in a row. Our first committee meeting is this Thursday where we will begin planning the event's theme, awardees, and one totally amazing party. We promise next year's event will be a night to remember with amazing food, drinks, dancing, and a few surprises. So, reserve Friday, February 28th, 2014 on your calendar for BALIF! The Gala will be here before we know it.

    In the meantime, please check out the many exciting upcoming events sponsored by BALIF and our allied organizations listed in this newsletter. Have a great week and I hope to see you soon.

    John Robert Unruh
    BALIF Gala Committee Co-Chair, Treasurer
  • 17 Sep 2013 10:34 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    It was great to see so many of BALIF's female (and male) members at the Give 'em L! LGBT Salon & Talk-Show last Thursday. The speakers were engaging, the views of our new Bay Bridge in the backdrop were stunning, and the two rooms filled with BALIF women were vibrant throughout the evening. Thank you for all who attended. I hope you enjoyed the event as much as I did!

    With the change of seasons we are going to help change the look of our local Glen Park Elementary school. Mark your calendars to join us on October 26, 2013 to help give the school a new face, meet other BALIF members and members of the community, and pay-it-forward to our community.

    Enjoy the warm weather, treat yourself to a scoop (or two) at one of San Francisco's iconic ice cream shops, and have a great week!

    Lilah Sutphen
    BALIF Gala Committee Co-Chair

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