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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 10-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

“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


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 10 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

favorite case because, to me, it just kind of

became involved with the center. A litigation associate at Morrison & Foerster, Gordon thinks it’s important for firms to promote pro bono work. “I think it’s really important for the firms themselves to take a stand on pro bono and advocating that their associates and partners take on pro bono matters, and I think one of the ways a lot of firms have encouraged people to do that is to have pro bono work count as billable hours,” she said. “My firm has always been one of the frontrunners when it comes to treating pro bono work as billable work, and I’ve seen in the last 10 years that a lot of other firms have joined the bandwagon and have revamped their pro bono policy, including pro bono hours—at least to some extent—as billable hours. I think that needs to continue because that’s one way to get a lot of great lawyers to become involved in doing pro bono work,” she said.


understands the judicial system and knows Gordon has been involved with the PLC since

how to get their voices heard.

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

part of, one stands out as her favorite.

with your client in a pro bono case,” she 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;

daughter. While the mother was sick, her

and although I develop a good relationship

daughter drew up a quitclaim deed to the

with my contact person—whether it’s a

mother’s house and had her sign it, deeding

general counsel or CEO—it’s not the same

the house to the daughter. However, when

relationship when you’re dealing with

the mother regained her health and realized

someone and his business as opposed to

what had happened, she sought legal advice,

someone and her home.”

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


field when she participated in mock trial in high school. At the urging of her history

“We had to go in and try to get the deed

teacher, she played the part of a lawyer and

rescinded,” Gordon said. “We arbitrated

found it to be interesting. After studying

the matter right before Thanksgiving; and

history in college, she decided to go on to law

unfortunately, we lost, and the daughter got


to keep the house.” She said her favorite part of being a Despite the loss, it was the woman’s

lawyer is writing persuasive briefs for her

gratefulness for what Gordon had done and

clients. However, her least favorite part is

her acceptance of Gordon into her family that

dealing with the difficult personalities she

made the case memorable.

sometimes comes into contact with. continued on back




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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

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

for the littlest thing, and you just have to deal

actually calming to me.”


with that.” ON THE NET In order to relieve on-the-job stress, Gordon, a mother of two, enjoys exercising and

Public Law Center



Beatriz M.G. Gordon: Associate, Morrison & Foerster  

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 w...