What a difference a year makes! At this time last year, the 16 Sections of the State Bar of California were hard at work planning for the future – soon to be separated from the State Bar of California after decades of administrative support and oversight.
Last December, leaders of the Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) met in Los Angeles to draft our formative bylaws and begin adopting core policies and procedures to help guide the new California Lawyers Association (CLA) into its new realm, as THE bar association for all California lawyers.
Scores of Section volunteers, many experts in their respective fields of practice, performed this foundational work. But importantly, we had the support of dedicated State Bar employees, many of whom continued to serve key roles in this first year of our existence. An interim contract with the State Bar ensured that the work of the Sections and the CYLA would not suffer interruption as the CLA got off the ground. Key staff leaders who helped us this year in our launch included Pam Wilson as our interim (and first) executive director, as well as Tricia Horan, our first associate executive director, and Saul Bercovitch, our director of governmental affairs. Many of our longtime staff stayed on, and a few are continuing forward with us into the future under our CLA mantle, including Brian Foley, Kristina Robledo and John Buelter.
Wilson will take on a new role in the coming year heading up our online MCLE program resources and catalog and special projects, which maintains for the CLA Pam’s specialized knowledge and expertise gained after heading up the State Bar’s Section Education and Meeting Services division. Both Horan and Bercovitch have taken on permanent full-time roles with the CLA. We couldn’t have launched the CLA without them, and we are so happy that they are continuing in support of the CLA.
Starting Jan. 2, 2019, all will be working with our new Executive Director, Ona Dosunmu, formerly with the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. Dosunmu is getting a head start by meeting key stakeholders in the legislature, judiciary and the State Bar. Dosunmu’s first order of business is to move in early January 2019 to our new headquarters space on Capitol Mall in Sacramento. Currently under construction, it will soon house our growing support staff and meeting space that will be available for our CLA and Section members.
I am proud to report that our foundational CLA bylaws and policies – most of which were created from blank slates to fit the special purpose and needs of the CLA – are helping us function as planned. Most importantly, each of our Sections and the CYLA has adopted its own sets of governing bylaws. You can be assured that as members of the CLA and the Sections of your choice, you will continue to enjoy all of the programs, publications, legislative commentary and opportunities for networking and interfacing with leading practitioners across the state, that were available before.
I am even more proud that we have emerged into so much more now than just a loose confederation of Sections, which many regarded us when part of the State Bar. Now, each of our Sections, including the CYLA, are even more visible and are recognized throughout California, across the nation and beyond our borders as the voices of California lawyers in their areas of expertise and special interests.
This sea change was most clearly seen at the first CLA Annual Meeting Sept. 14-15, 2018, in San Diego. We met as a true, independent statewide bar association. Addresses by American Bar Association President Bob Carlson, California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and recently retired California Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar welcomed us into our new role. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye performed a moving swearing-in ceremony for the CLA Board of Representative members, CLA officers and executive board of the California Judges Association.
The excitement and enthusiasm for the CLA was palpable and is being carried forward now in the planning for our second CLA Annual Meeting, set for Monterey, on Oct. 11-13, 2019. This venue’s larger meeting facilities will accommodate so much more in the way of expanded educational programs, which attract so many of you. As important, we will be able to offer greatly expanded networking to allow you to join with other California lawyers and members of the judiciary to communicate and collaborate in areas of need and interest to the broad and diverse California legal community.
The core work of the CLA continues to be done by hundreds of California volunteer lawyers, taking time away from our families and places of work, giving back to the profession we all embraced when we were first admitted to practice in California. We are so impressed by the terrific work produced by our hundreds of Section volunteers producing meaningful education programs; timely and scholarly legal publications; insightful legislative analysis, commentary and legislative proposals; and opportunities to interact with other lawyers across the state.
The best measure of our success is that we have maintained our membership numbers, some 100,000, since we emerged as an independent voluntary 501(c)(6) nonprofit membership association, which immediately freed up our members to communicate and create work product without restrictions that existed when we were part of a state public agency.
Opportunities for newly minted attorneys
One of the most exciting changes is an emerging work in progress – the reinvigoration and restructuring of the California Young Lawyers Association. The CYLA provides one of the largest blocks of members to the CLA, some 50,000 strong, defined demographically as lawyers admitted to practice in California fewer than eight years.
The CLA’s commitment to the CYLA and its young and emerging lawyers is evident in our new structure. Bylaws adopted by the CYLA and the CLA in June 2018 ensure synergy between the groups. Each of the 16 Sections now provides a young lawyer liaison to serve on the CYLA’s executive committee, joining the CYLA’s current officers and at-large members. This brings directly to the CYLA’s board the special interests of and opportunities to work with the appointing Section’s own executive committee and provides to each appointing Section the perspective of the CYLA and young lawyers. The young lawyer appointees will have expanded opportunities for involvement in Section publications, programs and legislative activities, as well as mentorship opportunities to ensure the training and nurturing of new members and new leaders for the Sections and the CLA as a whole.
Throughout the coming year, the CYLA and its Section liaisons will work with the CLA and its Sections to produce relevant programs directed at emerging lawyers, particularly in areas to develop practice skills, to offer “Lessons Learned/Tips We Wish We Had Known,” and to present specialty programs emerging lawyers face, like how to deal with burdensome law school debt and how to start solo and small firm practices. Two key CLA leaders, CLA Vice President Emilio Varanini and CLA Director of Bar Relations, Collaborations and Special Projects Ellen Miller-Sharp will be working with CYLA’s leadership team on strategic implementation, communication and other issues. In short, the entire CLA leadership is committed to fulfilling the CYLA Chair Martin Behm’s promise, “Put briefly, CYLA celebrates, invigorates, connects and supports all new California lawyers.”
We have accomplished more than many thought we could in our short first year of existence as the first statewide voluntary bar association for all California lawyers. We have so much more to do in the coming year. You will be hearing more, including our asks for your encouragement and support as we expand our brand and our outreach to include more California lawyers. While we are already the largest statewide voluntary bar association in the nation, with more than 100,000 members, our potential is so much greater, with approximately 250,000 California lawyers admitted to practice here. The more who join the CLA by joining one of our Sections, the more we are able to do for California and its diverse population. That is our commitment. Join us in all we do.
Thank you to all who joined CLA President Heather Rosing and CLA Board Chair Jim Hill at a special reception Nov. 9 at Fox Rothschild LLP. The California Lawyers Association was created this year as part of the restructuring of the State Bar of California. CLA is THE bar association for all California lawyers, serving as the home of the 16 former State Bar Sections, as well as the California Young Lawyers Association. Reach out to discover how to get involved and maximize the value of your CLA membership.
Betty J. Williams, treasurer of the California Lawyers Association, received the prestigious V. Judson Klein award from CLA’s Taxation Section last month. The award is presented to the top tax attorney in California every year since 1978. Past recipients include prominent tax lawyers such as Charles P. Rettig, the newly appointed Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.
Read more about all the awards presented at the Taxation Section’s Annual Meeting Nov. 7-9 in San Jose.
Also last month, the Intellectual Property Section recognized four outstanding legal professionals who are spearheading new developments in the world of IP law. Peter Menell, Kelly Klaus, Hon. Pauline Newman and Mallun Yen received Vanguard Awards at the annual IP Institute Nov. 7-9 in San Jose.
You can renew your California Lawyers Association Section membership or join a CLA Section for 2019 on your State Bar fee statement.
The State Bar of California recently emailed fee statements to attorneys licensed in California. Line 18 of the fee statement addresses membership in the California Lawyers Association, formerly known as Sections.
An attorney can join the CLA by paying $95 for the first Section they join. Additional Section memberships are $95 each.
The California Lawyers Association is seeking your input about the Annual Meeting. Please take a short survey to help us plan the best programs and networking opportunities when we convene for the next Annual Meeting Oct. 10-12, 2019, in beautiful Monterey.
Whether or not you attended the last Annual Meeting in September, or are considering joining us next year, your feedback is important to us. We would love to hear from you!
The California Lawyers Association has arranged for a significant discount for our members on a number of top quality, on-demand online Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs from the American Bar Association (ABA). These programs were selected to supplement our existing catalog of meaningful CLE while offering additional opportunities for insight from attorneys around the nation. The programs are 1.5 hours in length and are priced at a significant discount for CLA members at $95. Go to the CLA’s online CLE catalog.
Each month, the CLA offers its members one free educational program. This month’s topic is “Attorney Civility in the Practice of Law: Courtroom Decorum and Etiquette.” Take the online course.
Beginning in early 2019, CLA members will receive access to one of the largest law libraries in the world. This member benefit will be included as a complimentary resource for all members of at least one paid CLA Section (formerly Sections of the State Bar of California).
Read more about the partnership between CLA and Fastcase from the announcement in October.
In big news for the California legal community, Gov. Jerry Brown last month appointed Joshua Groban, his senior legal advisor, to the California Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments at a hearing set for Dec. 21, Groban will fill the seat vacated by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar more than a year ago.
Groban has advised the governor in high-profile litigation and policy issues involving education, the judiciary, criminal justice, national security and constitutional interpretation since 2011. He has also overseen the appointment of more than 600 judges across the state.Groban’s appointment was met with praise by current and former members of the California judiciary and attorneys he worked with in private practice at Munger, Tolles & Olson from 2005 to 2010 and at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison from 1999 to 2005.
In addition to his experience at the two large law firms, Groban was legal counsel for the Jerry Brown for Governor Campaign in 2010 and has been a lecturer in state appellate practice at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law since 2015.
Groban earned his law degree from Harvard Law School, where he graduated cum laude, and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, where he graduated with honors and distinction. He clerked for Judge William C. Conner at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York from 1998 to 1999.
Thursday, December 6, 2018: Family Law Section presents Webinar: Advanced Evidentiary Issues for Hearings and Trial, participation by computer, 415-795-7102. [1 hour participatory MCLE credit and 1 hour legal specialization credit in Family Law]Thursday, December 6, 2018: Family Law Section presents Webinar: A Litigator’s Guide to Business Valuation in Family Law, participation by computer, 415-795-7102. [1 hour participatory MCLE credit and 1 hour legal specialization credit in Family Law]Monday, December 10, 2018: Litigation Law Section presents Webinar Replay: Improved Expedited Jury Trials – Exploring Recent Changes, participation by computer, 415-795-7108. [1 hour participatory MCLE credit]Wednesday, December 12, 2018: Litigation Law Section presents Webinar: But You Didn’t Tell Me That! New Mandatory Disclosures Before Mediation, participation by computer, 415-795-7108. [1 hour participatory MCLE credit and 1 hour legal specialization in Legal Malpractice]
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