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  • 05 Jun 2012 11:25 AM | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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!

  • 23 May 2012 2:56 PM | Anonymous
    BALIF BOARD 2012-13

    BALIF is proud to unveil our 2012-13 Board…

    Meet the 18 revolutionary men and women who, over the next two years, will be leading BALIF to 1,000 members strong (BALIF 1K!). Membership retention will serve as the foundation of our efforts, and will be fervently supported by the three pillars of social activities, networking opportunities, and community service.

    We’re proud to be the oldest and largest LGBT bar organization in the world. BALIF 1K!


    Chelsea HaleyNelson
    HaleyNelson & Heilbrun, LLP

    BALIF Board Co-Chair

    Realizing that her initial plan to become a famous ballerina would require a little too much sacrifice (think Black Swan), and she didn't have enough space to start the World’s largest animal sanctuary, Chelsea settled on a legal career. Her 2012 goal is to have BALIF become the go-to legal organization on LGBT issues, not just for the Bay Area, but in California...and beyond!

    view full profile


    On Lu
    Mount, Spelman & Fingerman, PC

    BALIF Board Co-Chair

    oN’s first job out of college was acting in Hong Kong action movies; thank goodness he had a back-up. His 2-year goal is to build BALIF to 1K members strong—through a tri-pod blueprint of networking, social, and community outreach opportunities for our members.

    view full profile


    Cara Sherman
    Ongaro Burtt & Louderback

    Secretary; Pride Law Fund Committee Chair; and State Bar/Conference of Delegates Committee Chair

    Cara’s childhood chores involved collecting eggs from the henhouse and gathering firewood for the fire that warmed the house and made hot water for showers. She’s traded that country life for city livin’ and is BALIF’s new Secretary and will lead BALIF’s contingency to the California Conference of Bar Associations in Monterey—where she promises not to look for eggs. Actively.

    view full profile


    John Robert Unruh
    Swords to Plowshares

    Treasurer; Gala Committee Co-Chair

    As a teenager John acted, sang and tap danced in Anything Goes to rave reviews. No longer on stage, he is still an avid theater and opera goer. John will ensure BALIF runs another year with a balanced budget and plans to throw an awesome Gala! The party will be the LGBT event of the season! Stay tuned.

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    Jamie Dupree
    Futterman Dupree Dodd Croley Maier LLP

    Development Committee Chair; Gala Committee Co-Chair

    Jamie loves men in uniform, especially her sports-loving sons, Jonah (6) and Zach (3), and the San Francisco Giants! Jamie's goal is to increase membership and participation in BALIF by women and more experienced lawyers. And, of course, to help John Unruh to throw a really great party!

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    Laurie Bertolacci
    Robert Half Legal

    Membership Committee Chair

    Laurie was born in the Bronx, and during the summers as a kid, her sprinklers were fire hydrants.  Her primary goal is to retain existing members and increase membership beyond attorneys to other legal professionals in the Bay Area.

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    David Nathan-Allen Sims
    Saveri & Saveri

    Social Committee Chair

    As a young man David was large, not in charge and rarely popular. Eventually he grew up into a Cheer magnet and now runs the show. Still large but working to be in charge he is dedicated to making BALIF a Social Cornucopia. If you seem him out you know this is the place to be for social, fun, networking, and community run in his blood.

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    Ted Garey
    Beahm Law

    Communications & Public Relations Committee Chair

    An interesting albeit weird fact about Ted is that he once took a piece of gum from Kristen Chenoweth’s purse while she was performing on stage. Ted is returning to the Communications Committee for a second term. He has added “PR” to his agenda and aims to launch BALIF’s work and accomplishments to the press world!

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    Susan Bluer
    Bluer & Bluer LLP

    Judiciary Committee Chair

    Susan is our returning Chair of the Judiciary Committee. She has been practicing law long enough to feel “wise” and is a founding partner of Bluer & Bluer, LLP. This year, our Judicial Plebiscites will go on-line and we will help 100 LGBT lawyers get on the bench (wouldn't that be nice...)

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    Elizabeth Pritzker
    Girard Gibbs LLP

    Young Lawyers & Law Student Programs Committee Chair

    As a young adolescent growing up in suburbia, Elizabeth’s aspiration was to become a Soul Train dancer.  She still tries out her funky “moves” whenever she gets a chance. Elizabeth’s goal is to enhance BALIF’s connection to its legacy members, and build a strong and enduring mentor-mentee program for BALIF’s law student and young lawyer members.

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    Nick Kacprowski
    Kirkland & Ellis LLP

    Amicus Committee Chair

    Nick has an indomitable chocolate lab named Scotch who has moved with him to three different states. But unlike the Romney family dog, Scotch was not strapped to the top of a car. Nick’s goal for the year is to increase the quantity and quality of BALIF’s participation as a friend of the court in cases affecting our community.

    view full profile


    Michael Wolchansky
    Law Office of Michael Wolchansky

    Outreach/Social Action Committee Co-Chair

    Michael’s first foray into drag was at age 11 during the Herzl Camp Talent Show where he performed a rousing and much loved edition of Saturday Night Live’s Linda Richmond’s Coffee Talk, complete with huge wig and glasses. This year he plans to blaze a new path for BALIF Community Outreach by implementing LGBT community involvement volunteer events.

    view full profile


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

    Outreach/Current Events Committee Co-Chair

    Peter C. Catalanotti, Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, LLP. Everyone's road to inner calmness looks different. For Pete, it involves punching, kicking, elbowing, and kneeing as hard as he can four times a week in Muay Thai kickboxing class. When he's not kickboxing or lawyering, he promises to keep BALIF’s membership informed on current events and to create alliances with other local and national LGBT groups all in an effort to push our community's legal rights to the next level.

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    Lilah Sutphen
    Wald & Thorndal P.C.

    Programs Committee Co-Chair

    Lilah has an inner Martha Stewart dying to be cut loose. She is infamous for tempting Board members and friends with delectable dessert concoctions whipped up at home. Her goal this year as co-chair of the newly formed Programs Committee is to orchestrate CLE's that involve subjects BALIF members are attracted to and thus look forward to attending, as well as other dialogue-driven events that draw out BALIF members who aren't seen at the ubiquitous happy hour.

    view full profile


    Nick Clements
    Seyfarth Shaw LLP

    Programs Committee Co-Chair

    Nick has a thing for circus folk, having dated three over the past few years. His goals this year on the BALIF Board include establishing and building the Programming Committee with his amazing Co-Chair Lilah Sutphen and working to integrate and enhance communication between the other BALIF Committees to ensure smoother functionality so they are working towards achieving the same ends—primarily a superior BALIF membership experience.

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    Nathan Bewley
    University of San Francisco School of Law

    Law Student Representative

    A month before starting law school, Nathan drove across the country from Boston, where he received his BS in Marketing Communications from Emerson College in 2007. One of his goals as this year’s Male Law Student Representative is to visit all eight BALIF law schools (Bolt, Davis, Golden Gate, Hastings, McGeorge, Santa Clara, Stanford, and USF) and encourage involvement in BALIF by putting a face to name.

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    Aditi Fruitwala
    University of San Francisco School of Law

    Law Student Representative

    During a kindergarten career day, Aditi announced to the class that she wants to be a rainbow when she grows up so she can “come out after the rain and make everything okay.” Due to practical difficulties in achieving that dream, she now attends law school at the University of San Francisco. As a BALIF student rep, she hopes to serve as a strong voice for students in the bay area and increase student attendance at BALIF events.

    view full profile


    Milo Beitman
    Golden Gate University School of Law

    Law Student Representative

    Growing up, Milo aspired to be a Hollywood stuntman. Now faced with finding a job after law school, jumping from moving cars is again looking appealing. The law student representatives are hoping to increase student involvement through a series of events and continue to build a strong law student network.

    view full profile

  • 20 May 2012 11:25 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Already a member of the ABA Section of Litigation?  If so, please consider joining the LGBT Litigator Committee!  It is free for ABA SOL members.  Join here:   You will also find recent articles written by BALIF members in our newsletter, and there are many opportunities to contribute to the newsletter or programming we hold annually.  If interested, please contact David Tsai:

  • 20 May 2012 11:19 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

  • 11 May 2012 2:30 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    In the wake of recent statewide legal setbacks for same-sex marriage, President Obama came out this week personally in support of same-sex couples' right to marry.  The President's comments this week, while carrying no legal effect, represent a significant gesture in support of equality and fairness for countless committed couples and families in our community. BALIF applauds President Obama for his historic, public support of equal marriage rights for all Americans.

  • 05 May 2012 7:33 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    We were excited to mix, mingle and shop with so many BALIF members at our first ever happy hour at Saks.

    We want to especially thank BALIF member Omar Salazar, Saks Marketing Manager, Konrad Janus, and Saks Director of Marketing, Ryan J. Williams for their help in coordinating the event, and BALIF Board Member, oN Lu, for making the event a reality. 10% of the proceeds from the event were donated to the Pride Law Fund.


    Thank you for joining us and for making this such a successful event!


    In May, we ring in the inaugural 2012 BALIF-LGLA Summer Mentorship Program for Visiting Law Students. If you are a law student in the Los Angeles area seeking a summer mentor in the San Francisco area, or an attorney in the San Francisco area interested in serving as a mentor, please contact David Tsai to participate. If you are a law student in the San Francisco area seeking a summer mentor in the Los Angeles area, or an attorney in the Los Angeles area interested in serving as a mentor please contact David Perkiss to participate. Law students must submit an application by this Tuesday, May 1, 2012. Applicants and participants will be notified of their matches shortly following the deadline. To learn more about LGLA, please click here.

  • 13 Apr 2012 12:35 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    California Young Lawyers Association
    Jack Berman Award

    The California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) Jack Berman Award of Achievement for Distinguished Service to the Profession and the Public was established in 1992 and is awarded annually to recognize the achievements in public service of an individual CYLA member.


    Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 award; the deadline for submitting nominations has been extended to May 1, 2012.


    Great work deserves recognition! Please consider nominating a CYLA member (any active member of the California State Bar who is in their first five years of practice or under the age of 36) for this award.


    Click here for more information.

  • 13 Apr 2012 12:32 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Kaplan & Partners to Post Job
    Opportunities to BALIF Job Site

    BALIF is proud to announce that Kaplan & Partners will be positing job opportunities to the BALIF job site.


    Kaplan & Partners is a privately held professional staffing firm located in the heart of San Francisco. We assist law firms, corporations, and in-house legal departments to find top-notch talent for legal and administrative positions. Our experience includes everything from litigation secretary placements to partners and firm acquisitions - and we pride ourselves on taking the same exceptional level of care with each placement we make.


    Our services include temporary staffing, project staffing, contract and document review attorneys, and direct hire placements. We take the time to sit down with all of our candidates and clients so that we can truly understand your needs - and accurately identify your ideal solution.

    We are a great team of three people with diverse backgrounds and skills, and we love working together in this industry.


    Naomi Kaplan, our founder, received her law degree from Boston College and was a litigator here in San Francisco before finding her vocation as a recruiter. Prior to law school, Naomi was a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, Africa for two years.


    Zack Lyons, a BALIF member, was a litigation secretary and executive assistant in San Francisco for ten years before jumping into the recruiting world. Zack is riding in his first AIDS Lifecycle this year, so if he's not at the office, he's probably on his bike or in a spin class somewhere.


    Sandra Cholico brings a wealth of recruiting and administrative experience to the company. Her clients and candidates love her energy. Sandra has successfully placed happy candidates in top 10 firms and in boutique practices. She is very excited to run the Paris Marathon next month!

Call or Email Us
Office: +1 415 874-3045

P.O. Box 193383 San Francisco, CA 94119