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by Martin Lasden

March 2013

Each year our California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Awards serve as a testament to what great lawyers, and great lawyering, can accomplish. In our Corporate Antitrust category, for example, we honor the legal team that exposed a price-fixing conspiracy among the world's largest LCD manufacturers. In Consumer Law, we recognize key members of Attorney General Kamala Harris's Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, which secured meaningful relief for financially distressed homeowners. And in Voting Rights, we single out the California lawyers who led the legal effort in the battleground state of Ohio to ensure that every ballot cast in the November election would be properly counted.

In all, we cite 27 achievements for 2012. But for purely sentimental reasons, my favorite this year involves a married couple who won a substantial jury award for the emotional distress their obstreperous neighbor caused when he attacked their 15-pound miniature pinscher with a baseball bat.

I myself no longer own a dog. But it does seem to me that if people can be compensated for the emotional trauma caused by an injured canine, then certainly I should be accorded the same consideration if someone beats up my 20-pound cat. So on behalf of both me and Rufus, special congratulations are in order here for the lawyer who brought this case to trial, and the appellate attorney who persuaded the Fourth District Court of Appeal to uphold much of the award.

Also in this issue, writer Pamela MacLean looks at two putative class actions filed by former college athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The suits allege that the NCAA wrongfully cut them out of a piece of the action when it used their images for profit ("Money Madness"). It's a case that undoubtedly weighs heavily on the NCAA during March Madness, its annual college basketball tournament. But for all of MacLean's interest in the litigation, she readily admits to not keeping up with the hoops. "When I was growing up," she explains, "the girls were only allowed to play half-court. And so men's basketball rules always confused me." Still, as a part of her research, MacLean did feel obliged to watch high school star forward Aaron Gordon play a few games, and found them extremely engaging. This doesn't mean she's a rabid fan now. But the last time I checked in with her, she told me that she intended to watch most, if not all, of March Madness.

Finally, I'm pleased to note that this month marks the launch of a new column by Dan Grunfeld called At Large, which will explore a wide array of legal and professional issues. A consummate insider, Grunfeld served for many years as head of the country's largest pro bono firm Public Counsel. He also advised Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on policy issues. And currently he is a co-managing partner of Kaye Scholer's Los Angeles and Palo Alto offices. For his first column, Grunfeld looks at the difficulties faced these days by California's most talented young law school grads trying to land a job - and what that portends for the profession as a whole ("A Lost Generation").

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