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James Donato Installed as 2008 BASF President

December 19, 2007 -- James Donato was installed as the 95th president of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) on December 19, 2007. Donato, a partner in the San Francisco office of Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, is a trial lawyer whose practice focuses on antitrust litigation and class actions. He joined Cooley in 1996 and currently serves as chair of the firm's diversity committee.

At BASF's Annual Luncheon and Installation of Officers, Donato underscored the commitment to continuing BASF's leadership on diversity in the profession, volunteer legal service, and law reform. He also set public outreach and education on critical legal issues as a priority during his one-year term.

The goals include providing perspectives on substantive issues including the administration of capital punishment and access to justice in the form of state-funded legal representation in civil cases involving basic human needs; developing a rapid response program to provide appropriate and timely responses to unjust criticism of judges and courts; working in conjunction with other civic organizations to sponsor public outreach and communication about how the courts work, about judicial independence, and the rule of law; and providing substantive digital information and commentary to lawyers and to the public. 

Bringing BASF's communications and substantive content into the digital age with podcasts, videocasts, webinars and other internet-based services will be a significant focus in 2008.

According to Donato, "This bar association is legendary for its leadership on issues of diversity, volunteer legal services, law reform, and access to justice. I am tremendously excited about advancing these initiatives in 2008 and implementing next-generation practices of education and outreach to the broader public on the issues facing our courts and legal system."

Donato graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. degree in history from U.C. Berkeley in 1983. He received an M.A. degree in history from Harvard University in 1984. He received a J.D. degree in 1988 from Stanford Law School, where he served as senior editor of the Stanford Law Review. After obtaining his law degree, he served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Procter R. Hug, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Before joining Cooley, Donato served as a trial attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney's Office.

In addition to serving as an officer of BASF for the past three years, Donato is a past president of the Barristers Club, the young lawyer division of BASF. He is a member of the American Law Institute, has been appointed as an Adviser to the Restatement Third of Torts and has taught contracts at a local law school. He is a court-appointed mediator for the U.S. District Court in Northern California and also mediates cases for the San Francisco Superior Court.


The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104