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Jay Jeffcoat

Attorney and community activist uses connections to help worthy causes

Locally, San Diego attorney Jay Jeffcoat is perhaps known more for his community service than for his law practice, and that's no knock on the veteran litigator.

A tireless volunteer, enthusiastic fundraiser and vocal advocate, Jeffcoat skillfully uses his connections in the business arena to help the worthiest of causes.

"I'm not sure there's an equal of him, either in my firm, another firm or among any people in town," said Mike Tracy, manager partner of the DLA Piper office in San Diego, which is home to Jeffcoat's day job. "He is someone who, for all of his adult life, has been dedicated to the community.

"We believe he's a wonderful role model to the young lawyers in the firm. He shows the impact lawyers can have in the community, both in the legal and civic sense, either by raising money or through other endeavors."

Jeffcoat, a DLA Piper partner who focuses on complex commercial and real estate litigation, received the 2007 Robert Breitbard Award this summer from the San Diego International Sports Council. The honor is given to individuals who best exemplify the council's mission of working to bring economic development to San Diego through sports. He joins such San Diego luminaries as Alex Spanos, John Moores and Malin Burnham.

"The thing about Jay is, who you see is what he is ... a man that's genuinely kind, compassionate, fun, funny, bigger than life, smart and just a man of integrity and character," said Dick Semerdjian, chairman of the San Diego International Sports Council.

Semerdjian said Jeffcoat has been particularly helpful in the campaign to build an NFL stadium in Chula Vista.

"He's put a lot of time and effort into that, which is the biggest priority of the sports council -- building a stadium for the Chargers," Semerdjian said.

Jeffcoat also continues to expend countless hours on behalf of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Five years ago, he scaled back his law practice to work full time for the center as vice president of community, public and governmental relations. While he recently returned to the practice of law, he still supports Sidney Kimmel, giving facility tours and actively raising funds.

"He puts community above everything else," Tracy said. "People have great admiration for him. He has a moral leadership role that is second to none in the entire law firm."

In 2005, Jeffcoat was honored with the Bernie Witkin Award for civic leadership, an honored named for an active jurist from Los Angeles.

"Jay's bigger than life," Semerdjian said. "He pretty much knows everybody in town. You can't go anywhere with Jay that he doesn't know someone.

"He's extremely influential, not only with professionals and businesses in town, but with all the politicians, which has really helped out the sports council's mission to get things done."

Unfortunately, 2007 wasn't entirely a happy one for Jeffcoat.

He lost his Rancho Bernardo home to the October wildfires. He and his wife, Kendra, were on vacation at the time and unable to retrieve anything from their home, although the neighbor did rescue the family dog.

Among the personal items he lost was an expansive sports memorabilia collection. In a touching show of affection, the sports council surprised Jeffcoat at its Nov. 26 board meeting with a truck bed full of souvenirs to help the avid fan restart his collection.

After seeing Jeffcoat meet with President Bush in a Padres T-shirt during the week of the fires, Chargers president Dean Spanos sent Jeffcoat $1,000 worth of Chargers paraphernalia for the next time the San Diego attorney meets the commander-in-chief.

Jeffcoat also lost several baseballs signed by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, for whom Jeffcoat's son is named. According to friends, Bush -- who owned the Texas Rangers when Ryan pitched for them -- told Jeffcoat he'd get Ryan to sign some new baseballs.

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