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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Profile of a Donor: James Brosnahan, Morrison & Foerster LLP

James Brosnahan, a past BASF President, is co-founder of its Volunteer Legal Services Program, a long-time donor, and an active volunteer. He specializes in civil and criminal law at Morrison & Foerster LLP and has practiced in San Francisco for 48 years.


BASF: Why do you donate to VLSP through the BASF Foundation? James Brosnahan

James Brosnahan (JB): I donate to VLSP because the problems of the unrepresented are acute. Unless they are represented, they must face the loss of their house, their child, their property, their rights without counsel. As president of BASF in 1977, I worked with hundreds of other lawyers to found VLSP. We asked all lawyers in San Francisco to contribute 5% of their time to represent the poor.

BASF: What program are you most interested in supporting and why? 

JB: At this time, six out of ten Americans from the middle class who must go to civil court do so without a lawyer. Eight out of ten below the poverty line go unrepresented in civil court. That is why it is important for all of us to support VLSP.

BASF: What would you be if you weren’t a lawyer? 

JB: If I was not a lawyer, I would not have met Carol Brosnahan, which would be a shame. I was thinking seriously about trying to be a painter in my early years. There are similarities between the painter’s eye and the trial lawyer’s eye. Seeing things is crucial  in both callings.

BASF: What is your proudest accomplishment?

JB: Professionally, I think that it would be my teaching and mentoring of lawyers: some in my law firm, some at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and some at various law schools. This year I am teaching a course on persuasion at Boalt Hall and will also speak at the University of Tennessee Law School to the student body.

BASF: Do you have a favorite quotation? 

JB: My favorite quotation is from Robert Kennedy: “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”


If you would like to join Jim in his support of VLSP, send your check to Director of Development Sue Cox at the BASF Foundation, 301 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111. You can also use our redesigned donate page at Thank you!

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