By Ona Dosunmu, Executive Director
Last month CLA moved into its new, permanent office in Sacramento and at the same time marked the first week of being fully staffed. Our Associate Executive Director Tricia Horan and her team did an extraordinary job with the move and with identifying and helping to hire our new colleagues. Of course, there are still punch-list items to fix in the new space and we’re still figuring some things out but, on balance, the logistics were smooth.
The more exciting part of the move, however, was welcoming so many new team members to CLA. We spent most of Tuesday, January 15, orienting staff and getting to know one another. The positive energy and buzz were palpable and contagious. Fully half the team is new. If you count people who joined after CLA became CLA and people who were temps we decided to keep, roughly 60 to 75 percent of the team is “new.”
One of the most critical factors for CLA’s success is having the right people in the right positions. Except for one new section coordinator, we’re going to pause on new hires until we’ve absorbed the people who just started and until we have a chance to see how the current staffing plan is working. The section coordinators are particularly critical to delivering member service and to partnering with the Sections to help them with their events, meetings and education programs. While we think we got it right, if necessary we will adjust things as we move forward.
I am optimistic and excited about the mix of tenures, backgrounds and experiences on my senior executive team. In addition to being a whiz at operations, Tricia has deep historical knowledge from working with the Sections for nearly thirty years at the State Bar and now with CLA.
Saul Bercovitch, our director of government relations, never tires of telling us that he was the first CLA employee. Saul’s knowledge of how Sacramento works combined with his enthusiastic embrace of CLA-wide advocacy priorities and his experience with Section advocacy has already paid dividends on the lobbying front.
While not a CLA employee, Chief Financial Officer Linda Geery’s dedication to CLA’s success, combined with her extraordinary depth and breadth of experience working with a vast array of nonprofit organizations, has been a tremendous asset.
While some of us are new to working for a bar association, Ellen Miller, our director of strategic partnerships and initiatives, has worked for many, including the ABA, the State Bar of California and the San Diego County Bar Association. The relationships she brings to the table are invaluable and if any of us ever wonder how bar associations (as opposed to other types of organizations) do something, Ellen is our go-to person.
The final, key open position on my senior executive team was the director of marketing and membership. That role has now been filled by Tej Baath. Tej joins us from direct-to-consumer ecommerce retailer Eyeconic, a subsidiary of VSP Global, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing value for optometrists and its 88 million members. He brings an emphasis on marketing, particularly digital marketing, to the table and a perspective that may differ from those of us who are lawyers or who have worked with lawyers for most of our professional careers. I am confident that this combination will serve CLA well as we head into our second year.
By Heather L. Rosing, CLA President
and Jim Hill, CLA chair
From 1997 through January 1, 2018, the section structure continued to grow and flourish. The Taxation Section was founded in 1975, with the Trusts and Estates Section and the Intellectual Property Law Section created shortly thereafter in 1976. The newest section – Environmental Law – launched in 1992. For over 40 years, the top attorneys in these practice areas have dedicated an incredible amount of volunteer hours to develop unparalleled educational programming to help their colleagues provide the highest quality legal services.
Then, on January 1, 2018, the CLA was formed, with the 16 Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association as its solid base. Through the CLA, the sections have continued sophisticated programming, publications and conferences, as well as initiatives to enhance access to justice, increase diversity in the profession and assist our communities.
As one shining example, in 2018, the Environmental Law Section hosted several community-focused programs, known as “Your Voice” conferences. These programs focused on environmental issues of concern to the public and drew large audiences comprised largely of non-lawyers. In addition to presenting a conference on private enforcement in Oakland and a conference about rising sea levels in San Francisco, it also organized its annual student negotiations competition in Los Angeles, where teams of students from more than 15 California law schools participated in a mock environmental negotiation judged by California judges and lawyers. In September, the section presented an educational program in Los Angeles addressing diversity, equality, and inclusion in environmental decision-making. And in October, the section put on its annual flagship event, the Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, which is the largest and most prestigious gathering in California of leaders in environmental, land use and natural resources law. This conference is typically attended by nearly 700 lawyers, judges, representatives of government and non-governmental organizations, members of academia, law students, environmental professionals, and others.
The Solo & Small Firm Section has continued to tirelessly provide resources to attorneys across the state. The section creates and distributes unparalleled content through its quarterly printed publication, The Practitioner, and through its monthly digital newsletter e-Practitioner. The section, its leaders and its members are closely involved in planning the CLA Solo & Small Firm Summit, coming up in June in Huntington Beach. The CLA Law Practice Management and Technology Section has also been sponsoring programs to assist attorneys in their everyday practice. In January 2018, the LPMT Section put on its first in-person Legal Technology Summit in San Diego. In April, the section co-sponsored legal technology conferences with the Orange County Bar Association and Golden Gate University School of Law.
The International Law Section continues to flourish, with an active program of outreach to bar associations around the globe in the form of bilateral “friendship agreements.” Those international relationships have garnered California lawyers and foreign lawyers access to legal systems, treaties, laws and regulations that affect the practice of law for the benefit of the public at home and abroad. International Law Section leaders serve as unofficial ambassadors abroad for California’s educational model for attorneys, as well as for substantive developments in California’s globally recognized technology industries. At the CLA Annual Meeting in September 2018, the section gathered representatives from foreign bar associations across the world to develop relationships and share our incredible accomplishments in California
The Business Law Section has excelled in furthering the CLA’s mission of diversity and inclusion through outreach and collaboration with other legal organizations in California through its BLS Diversity Initiative. For example, the section participated as a Silver Sponsor for the past two years of the California Minority Counsel Program’s Annual Business Conference, attended by over 500 diverse attorneys and general counsel. Through its presence there, the section has provided opportunities to minority and other diverse lawyers. This year, the BLS also co-hosted a successful Networking at Nite mixer with the California Minority Counsel Program Ambassadors Council, aimed at reaching younger attorneys and business lawyers of color. Most recently, the section has organized well-attended Law School Roadshows, at which volunteer panels of BLS lawyers discuss their practices and recruit lawyers-to-be to get involved in the section. The most recent BLS Law School Roadshow took place at Santa Clara University Law School and drew over 60 law students. The list of section accomplishments continues, with more information on our website, calawyers.org.
This brings us up to today, with the CLA Sections as the dynamic drivers of CLA’s progress. We are proud of the accomplishments of our sections and urge all CLA members to take advantage of their world-class offerings.
The authors thank CLA leader Roland Brandel for the historical background used in this article.
By Thomas Greene
Our programs and publications reflect the diversity and dynamism of our members. Our marquee programs are our Litigation and Appellate Summits in the fall. These are parallel, full-day programs. The litigation track features procedural updates designed just for litigators, hot trial programs and master programs from our most experienced and renowned members on topics ranging from voir dire to cross-examination to closing arguments. The appellate track last year featured a program on what to expect from the U.S. Supreme Court offered by UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky as well as tips on effective writing from the best appellate advocates in California. Our luncheon speaker for the joint summits was California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. He was both charming and insightful. In responding to a question on effective advocacy before his court, he pivoted from an anecdote about his daughter’s argument for why she needed a smartphone to his summary tips on what really works before the California Supreme Court. His perspectives resonated with parents as well as our litigators and appellate advocates.
The Litigation Section is also proud to honor the best advocates in California. After our summits, we inducted Bob Van Nest of Keker, Van Nest & Peters (San Francisco) into our Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. Bob was honored for his years of outstanding work as a trial lawyer in some of the biggest cases in the country. We also honored him for his continuing commitment to the law and to legal aid, for which he has been a tireless advocate. Our Appellate Committee also presented its first annual Appellate Hall of Fame Award to Ellis J. Horvitz. As California Supreme Court Justice Ming W. Chin commented, Ellis is the acknowledged “dean” of California’s appellate practitioners, so this was an outstanding inaugural choice for our new Appellate Hall of Fame.
At an earlier ceremony at CLA’s Annual Meeting, we inducted Jennifer L. Keller of the litigation boutique Keller/Anderle (Irvine) into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame for her distinguished career on both sides of the courtroom. In her comments after receiving her award, she thanked her partners and colleagues in her firm, and then eloquently defended the civil jury system. Like our members, our honorees are great people who do great work whichever side of the courtroom they are on.
The Litigation Section also offers a smorgasbord of webinars. We’ve found these programs to be most popular with our busiest members, who receive access from their offices or homes. They are timely, high-quality programs designed to give lawyers a competitive edge. Need to brush up on how to introduce a business document into evidence? We have a webinar on that as well as programs on alternate dispute resolution, cost-effective e-discovery and a host of other topics.
The Litigation Section also offers more publications than any other CLA section. Our magazine, California Litigation, carries thoughtful, timely insights into topics crucial to litigators. Articles range from the latest on international commercial litigation to effective advocacy in disputed coverage litigation. More frequently, we publish Litigation Update, a regular, timely summary of notable appellate decisions. We are proud to say that Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Eileen Moore is the executive editor of this publication. We also keep our members up to date on our many other activities with a monthly newsletter. Finally, we publish our annual California Litigation Review, analyzing new developments by topic. This has proven to be a “go to” publication for many of our members.
Looking ahead, 2019 will be no less dynamic. Our ADR Committee is planning an International Commercial Arbitration Academy on May 29, 2019, at JAMS new International Commercial Arbitration Center in Los Angeles, focusing on what may be an exploding source of business for California lawyers. Our Military and Veteran’s Committee is planning on a new summit in fall 2019, focusing on how to better represent serving military and veterans in major disputes. The section and our Appellate Committee will be reprising our Appellate and Litigation Summits on September 20, 2019, at the JW Marriott LA Live. We are very pleased that California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger has agreed to be our luncheon speaker, so we expect a great event. Later that month, starting on September 29, our Legal London program begins. This year’s event will start with formal ceremonies dating back to the Middle Ages marking the beginning of the London law year. The program ends with a formal dinner at the House of Lords. In between, participants get broad exposure to all levels of the U.K legal system. Details on this unique program can be found at http://aweekinlegallondon.com/.
If you haven’t joined the Litigation Section, consider the benefits and sign up. Further information can be found at https://calawyers.org/Litigation. If you are a member, consider volunteering with our Executive Committee or one of our working committees. If writing is your thing, consider helping us with one of our publications as an author or an editor.
Bottom line: If litigation is your passion, we are your section.
Thomas Greene is a trial attorney for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the 2018-19 chair of the Litigation Section. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Antitrust Division or the Department of Justice.
You can renew your CLA membership, or join CLA for the first time, through your State Bar Fee Statement up until the February 1 due date. You can also join CLA and its world-class Sections directly through the CLA website. Membership is only $95 and your first section is included.