Lions of Litigation Dinners

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The Lions of Litigation Dinners are an opportunity for alumni who are prominent litigators in civil and/or criminal law to share their real world experiences and lessons learned with current Boalt students. These students are members of the student-led Board of Advocates and charged with all of Boalt’s internal and external skills competitions. Many of them win top awards at regional and national competitions, outperforming others from competing top-ten law schools.  

The Lions of Litigation Dinners are alumni-hosted, intimate dinners attended by 6-8 students, a faculty member and the alumni host. The purpose of the dinner is to create community and to connect Boalt’s students with alumni in inter-generational conversations about the law, critical skills and career trajectories, as they prepare to enter the ever-challenging legal profession.

This program provides mutually beneficial advantages: Students can personally interact with and learn from greatly skilled alumni practitioners, and explore future career options in a friendly and welcoming setting; while alumni can engage with those who are following in their footsteps at Boalt – and possibly eventually following them into the courtroom as well.

For more information about hosting a Lions of Litigation Dinner, please contact Brooke Krystosek at or 510.643.5777.

The Lions

Lions of Fall 2014:


Nancy Leavitt Fineman ’86
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP

Nancy FinemanThursday, September 18 - REGISTER HERE

Nancy is a Principal at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, was born in San Francisco and raised in the East Bay. She joined Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP in 1989, after practicing with a San Francisco firm and working as a Research Attorney for the San Mateo County Superior Court. At Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, her practice currently emphasizes complex business litigation, employment litigation, securities cases, antitrust and intellectual property. She is currently a member of the Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP team representing victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Read more.



Jim McManis ’67
McManis Faulkner

Jim McManisThursday, October 16 - REGISTER HERE

A member of the trial bar for more than 40 years, Jim has unparalleled experience and skill in preparing and presenting cases for adjudication – whether by jury, judge, arbitrator, mediator or the parties themselves. He represents Silicon Valley companies with commercial, trade secret and intellectual property issues. Jim also represents individuals in a wide variety of matters, including civil rights actions, employment disputes, family law and criminal defense. Read more.




Elizabeth Cabraser ’78
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

Elizabeth CabraserMonday, October 27 - REGISTER HERE

Elizabeth Cabraser possesses unparalleled expertise in complex civil litigation and has served as court-appointed lead, co-lead, or class counsel in over 80 federal multi-district and state coordinated proceedings. She has held leadership roles in cases that resulted in landmark settlements, verdicts, and precedent-setting rulings, including the Exxon Valdez disaster, breast implants, smoker and multi-state tobacco litigation, Fen-Phen (diet drugs), Holocaust litigation, Vioxx, Guidant defibrillators, and Bextra/Celebrex MDL litigations. Read more.



David Zapolsky ‘88

David ZapolskyWednesday, October 29 - REGISTER HERE

David Zapolsky joined in November 1999 as Associate General Counsel for Litigation and Regulatory matters and was promoted to Vice President in April 2002. He became Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary in September 2012, overseeing the company’s legal, policy, compliance, and regulatory affairs, and Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary in May 2014. Prior to joining, David was a partner at the Seattle offices of Dorsey & Whitney and Bogle & Gates. Before moving to Seattle from New York City in 1994, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and later practiced law at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz. He received his undergraduate degree in music from Columbia University and a J.D. with honors from the University of California, Berkeley. Read more.



John Burris ’73
The Law Offices of John L. Burris

John BurrisThursday, November 6 - REGISTER HERE

John Burris is a renowned and accomplished civil rights lawyer who has prevailed in some of the most notorious cases of police misconduct and civil rights violations in recent history. He has also won landmark verdicts in racial discrimination and sex discrimination in the workplace. Read more.






Lions of Spring 2014:

David Carrillo ’95 and ‘11
UC Berkeley School of Law

David CarrilloDavid A. Carrillo joined the Berkeley Law faculty as the founding Executive Director of the California Constitution Center in 2012. The center is devoted to developing scholarship concerning the California Constitution and the California Supreme Court. He received his doctorate from Berkeley Law, with a dissertation focused on several areas of California constitutional law. Dr. Carrillo was in active practice for 16 years, and prevailed in many trial court judgments and appellate decisions in state and federal court. He served as a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice, where as a member of the Employment and Administrative Mandate Section he represented state agencies in civil litigation, writs of mandate and administrative proceedings on issues of statewide importance in state and federal courts. Before joining the California Attorney General’s Office, Dr. Carrillo served as a Deputy City Attorney in San Francisco, where as a member of the Public Protection Team he handled advice, administrative mandamus and litigation matters concerning peace officer discipline, employment claims, criminal discovery policy, and local commission procedure. Dr. Carrillo served as a Deputy District Attorney in Contra Costa County, where he prosecuted a variety of criminal matters. Dr. Carrillo also worked as a commercial litigation associate in private practice, focusing on product liability, coverage, and environmental impact matters. Read more.

Luke Ellis ‘75
GJEL Accident Attorneys

Luke EllisLuke Ellis is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell. He is a past and current selection for the Northern California Super Lawyers as well as The Best Lawyers in America. In 2012, he was selected as one of the Top 100 Attorneys Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers. Mr. Ellis was named Best Lawyer of the Year for 2014-Personal Injury, by Best Lawyers of America. Mr. Ellis has one of the largest personal injury jury trial verdicts on record in Alameda County. He has the largest wrongful death jury verdict in Contra Costa County history. In 2009, he had one of the top 100 verdicts in the nation, and in 2011 one of top 15 personal injury verdicts in California. Read more.

William E. Gagen, Jr. ’68
Gagen McCoy

William GagenAs the firm’s senior trial counsel, William E. Gagen, Jr. has earned local, state and national recognition as a Chronicle Top 25 attorney, a Top 100 Attorney by California Super Lawyer and an elected Fellow of the elite American College of Trial Lawyers.  Known as a straight shooter who is trusted by lawyers, judges and prosecutors, he is widely regarded as a formidable force in the courtroom.  A 2005 profile in The Recorder called him a “fearless articulate trial attorney and occasional hero” who zeroes in on the weakness in his opponent’s case “like a laser beam.” Read more. 

Lynn Pasahow ’72
Fenwick & West LLP

Lynn PasahowLynn Pasahow has handled complex patent and other intellectual property litigation in the software, Internet, hardware and life science industries for over thirty years. Lynn has represented cutting-edge technology companies and universities and their highly innovative inventors in their most important suits. He led the team establishing the validity of biotech-pioneer Cetus' patents on its Nobel Prize-winning polymerase chain reaction invention against DuPont and the team enforcing's 1-Click® patent against its then-arch rival Lynn also repeatedly has defeated suits against his clients by non-practicing entities and others through jury verdicts finding patents invalid or not infringed, summary judgments and other favorable resolutions. Read more. 

Sean SeLegue ’91

Arnold & Porter LLP

Sean SeLegueSean M. SeLegue is a business litigation partner at Arnold & Porter LLP who is a member of the firm's Business Litigation and Appellate and Supreme Court practice groups. Mr. SeLegue's appellate practice has encompassed a broad range of business and other civil disputes, such as partnership disputes in investment management firms, unfair competition, class action litigation, enforceability of settlement agreements, real estate and family law. Read more. 

Lenard Weiss ’62
Mannatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Lenard WeissLenard Weiss is a partner in the San Francisco office with over 50 years of experience in complex business and commercial litigation. He has actively represented securities houses, money center banks and developers in major litigation, including a defense verdict in a lender liability case several years ago that the National Law Journal labeled one of the "top 10" civil defense verdicts of the year. Mr. Weiss is well versed in California utility regulatory matters and California water law and has represented investor-owned utilities, including major water companies and a number of smaller water, telephone and transportation utilities before the California Public Utilities Commission and in the courts. Read more.