Weekly Newsletter        |        August 22, 2017
In This Issue
Message from the BALIF Board 

It is hard to believe that the summer is almost over and many of our BALIF member law schools are starting this week! We wanted to remind our law student members of a few resources and programs we have throughout the year:
  1. The BALIF mentorship program - applications will be out in September for law students to sign up to be paired with a BALIF attorney mentor.
  2. BALIF Young Lawyer & Law Student Career Building Events, including a resume & mock interview workshop and career fair.
  3. A new series of law student-judge brunches (more details to come in the next month).
  4. Check out the BALIF group page on Facebook and job board for externship opportunities. The Aids Legal Referral Panel (ALRP) recently posted about open law clerk positions.
  5. Check out the BALIF member directory to find attorneys who work in your practice areas of interest. It never hurts to send a BALIF attorney a friendly email asking to grab a cup of coffee to get some career advice.


Kevin Jones
BALIF Law Student Representative

BALIF Teams Up  for 
September Happy Hour

Join BALIF,  BASF Charles Houston Bar Assoc ., and the  SF La Raza Lawyers Assoc . for a September happy hour and gallery viewing.
Medina Orthwein LLP Files Suit Against CDCR Exposing LGBTQ Prisoner Harassment and Abuse. 
On Monday, August 14, 2017, Felicia Medina and Jennifer Orthwein, two Directors on the BALIF Board and Partners at Medina Orthwein LLP, filed a complaint on behalf of Dr. Lori Jespersen, a Psychologist employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), in the United States District Court - Eastern Division of California.
The complaint alleges that Dr. Jespersen has been discriminated against, harassed, and retaliated against for advocating on behalf of gay and transgender prisoners and because of her own sexual orientation and gender non-conformity.  Dr. Jespersen has blown the whistle on correctional officers and CDCR's habitual violations of the Prison Rape Elimination Act and HIPAA.
In response, Dr. Jespersen safety has been put in danger by correctional officers, prisoners, and CDCR.  Custody staff locked her on units alone with prisoners, including a multi-term violent sex offender.  She has been stalked and intimidated by a custody officer who also incited violence against her by prisoners and was then constructively demoted by CDCR to a desk job and is no longer allowed to see patients.
"LGBTQ prisoners are disproportionately subjected to harassment and physical and sexual abuse. I admire Dr. Jespersen's strength and courage to expose how LGBTQ people are suffering behind CDCR's walls," said Jennifer Orthwein.
"It is time for CDCR to be held accountable and take intentional, meaningful steps to address their abusive and hostile culture. Dr. Jespersen's lawsuit seeks not only to vindicate her rights,  but the rights of some of the most vulnerable populations caught up in the prison industrial complex," said Felicia Medina. 
Read more about this lawsuit here: 

BALIF Board Member Convicts 
Santa Clara Deputy Sheriff 
On June 29, 2017, George Tran, a prosecutor and board member of BALIF, proved at a jury trial and convicted Santa Clara Deputy Sheriff Benjamin Lee for brandishing a loaded firearm at employees in a Jack In The Box drive-thru. The deputy was also drunk driving, stopped at the drive-thru after a night of partying with his friends.  According to the employees, the deputy got angry and rude.  He demanded his food, and refused to put his gun away when asked.  That was when one of the employees called 911.  Santa Clara County Judge Vanessa Zecher sentenced the deputy sheriff on August 18, 2017.  As part of that sentence, Judge Zecher placed a 10-year ban prohibiting him from owning or possessing any firearms and ammunition.
"This is a reminder that the community will not tolerate bullies or abusive government actors.  Defendant Lee soiled his badge and the office he served.   Because of his criminal act, he has further eroded public trust in law enforcement and made less safe for good police officers to do their jobs," stated George Tran. "This was the right outcome. The victims stood up against a bully and made it better."    

BALIF Member Elected as 
State Bar President
This week the State Bar of California Board of Trustees elected a new set of officers, including BALIF Member and Bar President Michael Colantuono.

Outgoing State Bar President James P. Fox said: "I welcome this new board leadership team, and am confident they will continue the momentum of reform and ensure a focus on the agency's core public protection mission. We have accomplished much, but there is still more work to do."

At its meeting the board also adopted a new mission statement to guide the work of the agency. The new board officers will be responsible for ensuring that the agency's work adheres to this mission. Additionally, the Board of Trustees is expected to adopt reforms recommended by the 2017 Governance in the Public Interest Task Force.

New Mission Statement:
The State Bar of California's mission is to protect the public and includes the primary functions of licensing, regulation and discipline of attorneys; the advancement of the ethical and competent practice of law; and support of efforts for greater access to, and inclusion in, the legal system.

Board officers elected today:
  • President: Michael Colantuono (BALIF member)
  • Vice President: Jason P. Lee
  • Treasurer: Todd F. Stevens
"I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees and all our hard-working Bar staffmembers to protect Californians, promote access to justice, and pursue a diverse profession to serve our diverse state," said Colantuono.

BALIF statement on Trump's proposed transgender military service ban
BALIF is, again, disappointed and disgusted by this president and his administration's constant harassment and discrimination against our community. According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research,   of service members returning from conflicts abroad report symptoms of a mental health or cognitive condition. This should come as no surprise, though. A decade-old study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 22% of veterans sought mental health treatment in the private sector.
Banning transgender persons from joining the military further impedes the ability of transgender service members experiencing mental health issues from seeking treatment on account of their transgender status. Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military, much like the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy previously enforced by the military, stigmatizes certain service members, causing unnecessary fear and anxiety for a population, statistically, already experiencing higher rates of mental health issues. This stigmatization leads to an increased inability to obtain treatment for mental illness, to efficiently detect mental health symptoms, and to facilitate early intervention to prevent chronic mental illness.
Unfortunately, we do not know how many service members, or potential service members, such a ban would disenfranchise. The U.S. does not collect data on trans people's existence. Refusal to collect data on, or even acknowledge trans people's existence, and trans people's fears of disclosing their existence make it impossible to accurately estimate the number of people who will be impacted by such a ban. The fluctuations in estimates and the reasons for these fluctuations further exemplify the disenfranchisement and marginalization of trans people. 
Despite the lack of accurate data, we know disenfranchising transgender service members currently enlisted in the armed forces is a threat to our national security. It denies service members who have made great sacrifices for our country the mental health treatment they unquestionably deserve. The president cannot claim to support our troops while simultaneously tweeting half-baked screeds that destabilize the security and unification of all service members by disenfranchising some service members.
We remain steadfast in our opposition to the Trump administration's ignorance and recognize that an attack against some of us is an attack against all. Unlike the armed forces under President Trump's leadership, BALIF refuses to leave any member behind. BALIF is very proud to have authored an amicus brief in Fulcher v. Secretary of Veteran Affairs to prevent the Trump administration from rolling back health services to transgender veterans.  Read that brief here.

USF Spotlight of On Lu
Former BALIF Co-Chair 2012 & 2013

Congratulations to former BALIF Co-Chair On Lu on being featured by the University of San Francisco School of Law.  Get the full scoop  here . BALIF remains proud of your accomplishments, and we love seeing our LGBTQ attorneys succeed. 
BALIF Files Amicus Brief 
Fulcher et al. v. 
Secretary of Veteran Affairs
On June 28, 2017, the Impact Fund, BALIF, and the National Women's Law Center, authored and filed an amicus brief in support of appellants in Fulcher et al. v. Secretary of Veteran Affairs. Lambda Legal and Transgender Law Center recently filed a petition with the DC Circuit Court seeking to amend or repeal the rules that exclude medically necessary surgery for transgender veterans from coverage provided to veterans through the VA.
Congress passed the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act in 1996 to ensure that the medical needs of all American veterans would be met under the VA health care system. The VA later adopted a discriminatory rule that singles out transgender veterans and excludes coverage for medically necessary surgery to treat gender dysphoria, even when substantially similar surgeries are covered for non-transgender veterans.
BALIF, the Impact Fund, the National Women's Law Center, along with 13 other leading non profits and legal organizations, argued in its amicus brief that the VA's rule discriminates against transgender veterans on the basis of their sex and their transgender status.  Specifically, amici detailed case law demonstrating that there is a growing national consensus among courts and federal agencies that discriminating against transgender people because of their (1) perceived failure to conform to gender stereotypes; (2) transgender status; and/or (3) gender transition is unlawful sex discrimination. 
The case is currently pending before the DC Circuit, with further briefing and oral argument expected this year.  Read appellants brief here.

Giving to the BALIF Foundation

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the BALIF Foundation.  The Foundation recently launched and is working to assist BALIF in bringing LGBT judges to the bench and supporting scholarships, stipends and fellowships for law students and attorneys working in the LGBTQ community.  You can donate here.  In the four years ahead, we believe the Foundation's work will be critical in helping to protect our community.

And the Foundation is looking for Founding Circle members through the end of 2017 - pledge and pay as little as $1,000 to always be listed as a Founding Circle member of the BALIF Foundation.

For more information about the BALIF Foundation or how to get involved, contact Jamie Dupree jdupree@fddcm.com.  
BALIF & The BALIF Foundation

BALIF is the Bay Area's LGBT Bar Association, which is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, which can engage in political activity.  Its Board members are elected by the BALIF membership and chair various committees of the BALIF bar association.
The BALIF Foundation is BALIF's charitable arm.  Donations to the BALIF Foundation are tax deductible because it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  The BALIF Foundation is dedicated to increasing the number of LGBT judges on the bench through educational programming, supporting LGBT community organizations, and providing scholarships, summer stipends, and fellowships for LGBT  law students and young attorneys seeking to help the LGBT community through legal work.  It gave its inaugural summer fellowship for the summer of 2017.

Job Postings Now on BALIF Website
Looking for a job or a law school internship?  As a BALIF member you get access to all job postings.  Click here to see the opportunities, or log into the   BALIF website with your membership ID and password, and select JOBS on the menu on the left.
September 14 - BALIF Teams Up for Happy Hour 
Our 2017-2018 Sponsors
Partner Level

Counsel Level




Advocate Level

A.L. Nella & Co., CPA
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Jones Day
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
Pacific Gas & Electric
Sanford Heisler, LLP
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Weaver, Austin, Villeneuve & Sampson LLP
Wells Fargo Legal Specialty Private Bank
White & Case LLP
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Benefactor Level

Individual Sponsors

BALIF Board of Directors
Nyla Moujaes & Peter Catalanotti
Jennifer Orthwein
Secretary &

Felicia Medina
Mario Choi

Annick Persinger
Judiciary Chair

Sarah Nicole Davis & 
George Tran
Gala Co-Chairs  

Alex Touma
Meaghan Zore
Stan Sarkisov
Communications Chair 

Jamie Dupree
Stephan Ferris
Ashley Pellouchoud
Community Ambassador Chair  

Jaclyn Gross & Kevin Jones
Follow BALIF

BALIF Foundation

BALIF Foundation
 Board of Directors
Jamie Dupree, Chair
Shay Gilmore

Chelsea HaleyNelson, Secretary

Laura Maechtlen

Nina Paul

Linda Scaparotti

David Tsai

John Unruh, Treasurer

BALIF | | info@balif.org | http://www.balif.org
P.O. Box 193383
San Francisco, CA 94119