Beatriz M.G. Gordon: Associate, Morrison & Foerster, LLP; Public Law Center's 2005 Attorney of the Year

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                            Beatriz M.G. Gordon: Associate, Morrison & Foerster,
                            LLP; Public Law Center’s 2005 Attorney of the Year
                            [By Charisse Dengler]
                            With an energy and animation that only comes from truly loving what you do, Beatriz M.G. Gordon describes her pro
                            bono work for the Public Law Center (PLC) in Orange County, CA, as personally rewarding. Averaging between 50
                            and 100 hours of pro bono work a year, Gordon was voted the PLC’s Attorney of the Year in 2005.




At the time of the PLC award, she had               She also advised law students to consider           “My client and the family members that
contributed 900 hours to pro bono work over         getting involved with pro bono work early           were helping her just really brought me into
the course of her 0-year career, most of           in their legal careers if they want to gain         their family. I honestly felt like I became a
which was with the PLC.                             experience quickly.                                 part of their family…and I think it was my
                                                                                                        favorite case because, to me, it just kind of
“My firm has a very good relationship and           “If you’re working on a big antitrust litigation,   resembled what pro bono is about,” she said.
always has had a good relationship with             where there’s hundreds of millions of dollars       “She was so appreciative even though we
the Public Law Center, and my firm is very          involved, as a brand new associate, chances         lost.”
encouraging of pro bono work. So, I think           are most of what you’re going to be doing is
probably one of my first cases—certainly            research and writing memos,” she said. “But         This attitude of gratitude is something
one of my first 0 cases when I walked in the       on a pro bono case, you can be a first-year         Gordon has noticed across the board when
door—was a case that a partner had from             associate, and you’re taking depositions.           it comes to pro bono cases. She said pro
the PLC, and they just asked me to help on          You’re going to court on a regular basis. So, it    bono clients are always exceedingly thankful
it,” Gordon said when asked how she first           really gives you experience early on.”              to have someone representing them who
became involved with the center.                                                                        understands the judicial system and knows
                                                    Gordon has been involved with the PLC since         how to get their voices heard.
A litigation associate at Morrison & Foerster,      she started at Morrison & Foerster a decade
                                                    ago; and out of all the cases she’s been a          “You get to have a very personal relationship
Gordon thinks it’s important for firms to
                                                    part of, one stands out as her favorite.            with your client in a pro bono case,” she
promote pro bono work.
                                                                                                        said. “Whereas, with a client with means, it’s
                                                    The case involved an elderly mother and her         usually a big company that I’m representing;
“I think it’s really important for the firms
                                                    daughter. While the mother was sick, her            and although I develop a good relationship
themselves to take a stand on pro bono and
                                                    daughter drew up a quitclaim deed to the            with my contact person—whether it’s a
advocating that their associates and partners
                                                    mother’s house and had her sign it, deeding         general counsel or CEO—it’s not the same
take on pro bono matters, and I think one
                                                    the house to the daughter. However, when            relationship when you’re dealing with
of the ways a lot of firms have encouraged
                                                    the mother regained her health and realized         someone and his business as opposed to
people to do that is to have pro bono work
                                                    what had happened, she sought legal advice,         someone and her home.”
count as billable hours,” she said.
                                                    saying she wanted to leave the house to all
                                                    eight of her children and not just the one          Gordon first became interested in the legal
“My firm has always been one of the front-
                                                    daughter.                                           field when she participated in mock trial
runners when it comes to treating pro bono
                                                                                                        in high school. At the urging of her history
work as billable work, and I’ve seen in the
                                                    “We had to go in and try to get the deed            teacher, she played the part of a lawyer and
last 0 years that a lot of other firms have
                                                    rescinded,” Gordon said. “We arbitrated             found it to be interesting. After studying
joined the bandwagon and have revamped
                                                    the matter right before Thanksgiving; and           history in college, she decided to go on to law
their pro bono policy, including pro bono
                                                    unfortunately, we lost, and the daughter got        school.
hours—at least to some extent—as billable
                                                    to keep the house.”
hours. I think that needs to continue because                                                           She said her favorite part of being a
that’s one way to get a lot of great lawyers        Despite the loss, it was the woman’s                lawyer is writing persuasive briefs for her
to become involved in doing pro bono work,”         gratefulness for what Gordon had done and           clients. However, her least favorite part is
she said.                                           her acceptance of Gordon into her family that       dealing with the difficult personalities she
                                                    made the case memorable.                            sometimes comes into contact with.


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“Usually, you find it’s a difficult opposing        “I have actually just…joined the bandwagon        Morrison & Foerster
counsel…or it’s someone who is just so              with all the celebrities,” she said. “I started   www.mofo.com
litigious and so defensive that they make           knitting, which I actually really enjoy. My
your life miserable,” she said. “They paper         husband teases me; but if I can get a half        Learn to Knit
you with everything and take you to the court       hour of knitting in before I go to bed, it’s      knitting.about.com/od/learningtoknit/ss/
for the littlest thing, and you just have to deal   actually calming to me.”                          blsteplearn.htm
with that.”
                                                    ON THE NET
In order to relieve on-the-job stress, Gordon,
a mother of two, enjoys exercising and              Public Law Center
knitting.                                           www.publiclawcenter.org




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Description: Beatriz M.G. Gordon is a associate in Morrison and Foerster, LLP, Public Law Centers 2005 Attorney of the Year. She describes her pro bono work for the Public Law Center (PLC) in Orange County, CA.
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