Golden Gate University Law Review


In reflecting on 45 years of the life of the law in the Bay Area, it was initially tempting to contrast the grim reality of the new Administration with a seemingly kinder and gentler time. But in truth those halcyon days of memory actually began with the landslide reelection of Richard Nixon, emblematic of a decade here that was scarred by unimaginable violence — from the Zebra killings and the Patty Hearst kidnapping to the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and gay rights icon Harvey Milk; from the Jonestown massacre of over 900 followers of the Unification Church to the gunning down of famed prisoners’ rights attorney Fay Stender. And only a few years later, the tragic ravages of AIDS would strike at the very heart of the progress made by the LGBTQI community.

I will dwell here on decidedly less dramatic, but nevertheless highly significant, forces that have transformed our profession, focusing primarily on: (1) the genesis and impact of the influx of women and racial minorities into the law, with surprisingly little to show for it at the top of the profession today; and (2) the exponential growth of commercial law firms, accelerating a troubling shift from law as a profession to law as an industry. (Let me note parenthetically that while the quality of life in the law may have declined pretty significantly over this period, the quality of my own personal life soared, what with my marriage to Marvin Stender, still the love of my life, and the birth of our cherished daughter, now a passionate civil rights lawyer with a heart as big as all outdoors.)