Michael Traynor’s thoughts on his tenure as Chairman of BASF

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Michael Traynor’s thoughts on his tenure as Chairman of BASF

To celebrate its 150th anniversary, the San Francisco Bar Association (BASF) asked past presidents to reflect on moments during their tenure. Michael Traynor of Cobalt, who served as president of BASF in 1973, is the author The emergence of BASF as a public interest forcea letter reflecting the organization’s civil rights actions in the early 1960s and 1970s.

An excerpt from the letter is below.

In the 1960s, even the largest firms were modest in size, lawyers rarely moved laterally, partners encouraged the careers of partners while waiting for them to become partners, and BASF had traditional committees, a referral service lawyers and social activities. With few exceptions, most members were white men who did not prioritize public interest law reform. But “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” as Bob Dylan sang, the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement grew, and San Francisco hosted 1967’s “Human Be-In” and “Summer of Love”.

More and more women were becoming lawyers and leaders, including the late Joanne Garvey (president, 1981). Lawyers increasingly sought to contribute to the administration of justice, freedom and equality, and access to legal services.

This particular story begins in 1967. Ronald Reagan was governor and a judicial vacancy opened in San Francisco. Instead of BASF’s recommendation, the Barristers Club thought it should appoint a lawyer with exceptional criminal and civil law experience. He recommended Robert Merrill and helped secure his appointment, and he began a distinguished career as a trial and appellate judge.

In 1969, the People’s Park controversy erupted in Berkeley and over 400 protesters were taken to Santa Rita Jail. Within three days, the Barristers Club assembled a task force of volunteer attorneys to serve as neutral observers and won a federal court order naming them using the court’s civil rights jurisdiction.

Read the full article on the BASF website.

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