It has been my honor and privilege to serve as Chair of the California Lawyer Association’s Business Law Section for the 2018-19 term. In case you weren’t already aware, our Section has about 8,000 members, including public and private practice attorneys, in-house counsel, judges, government officials, law professors. The BLS leadership is comprised of 14 unique Standing Committees organized by industry or practice, and its Editorial Board.
Our sincere thanks to the BLS leadership, who are the lifeblood of section, and the source of all our Section’s accomplishments this year. The BLS not only values its members, but those who take the time to plan and produce the programs and other membership benefits that makes involvement in our Section so special. So THANK you.
Thanks also to our sponsors, who have helped make our annual breakfast possible:
- Fenwick & West
- Wilke Fleury
- M&H LLP
- Hopkins & Carley
This has been a special year, as this is the first full year that the BLS has been a part of the CLA. Our unofficial theme for the year has been “the sky is the limit,” and I’m so proud to report that your Executive Committee and Standing Committee Officers took that theme, that challenge, to heart.
With innovation and collaboration at the forefront of all its planning, this year the BLS has delivered membership benefits designed to be inclusive, informative, interesting, and geared to benefit all business attorneys at every stage of their careers.
As a part of the CLA, the BLS shares its mission and pledge to offer “free and no cost MCLE” to California lawyers. To that end, this year, the Agribusiness Committee hosted and informative agricultural issues update by the legal staff of the California Farm Bureau Federation. This successful program included a discussion of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, and its potential impacts to the California energy industry.
The Internet and Privacy Law Committee (IPLC), in collaboration with the International Association of Privacy Professionals, among others, co-sponsored a well-attended program on the California Consumer Privacy Act and how that law stands to impact our business clients.
And, the BLS Financial Institutions Committee, the San Francisco Bank Attorneys Association, and the Financial Women of San Francisco co-hosted their annual collaborative program at the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco, where a panel of distinguished financial services experts discussed developments impacting the financial services and fintech industries.
The Section’s innovation is in no way limited to its programming. For example, following the Insolvency Law Committee’s successful Bankruptcy Judicial Profile eBulletin series model, the Business Litigation Committee began its own Judicial Profile eBulletin series beginning with interviews of Magistrate Judge Autumn Spaeth of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California.
The BLS also had an active year for legislative activities, which take several forms. For example, each year, through its Standing Committees, the BLS initiates legislative proposals that, upon approval by the BLS Executive Committee and CLA’s Director of Governmental Affairs, are offered for sponsorship in the California Legislature. These Affirmative Legislative Proposals, or “ALPs”, provide the Section with the direct ability to initiate bills that affect California businesses, and this year the Standing Committees have worked on several.
In addition, this year, liaisons from the California Secretary of State, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Department of Business Oversight, among other agencies, attended various Standing Committees’ meetings to provide invaluable insight into proposed changes to the law, or to identify regulatory developments that have a direct impact on corporate business attorneys’ practices
Outreach to Pipeline
Recognizing that the business lawyers of tomorrow are the law students of today, this year, the BLS also continued its tradition of hosting “road show” panel presentations at law schools throughout the state on careers in business law. As one example, the “roadshow” hosted at SCU Law attracted by over sixty students—many of whom expressed interest in receiving the Standing Committees’ eBulletins and otherwise becoming involved in the Section.
Cultivating a Culture of Inclusion and Belonging
The BLS has worked hard to cultivate a culture of diversity, equality, inclusion and community. For instance, the BLS partnered with the Solo and Small Firm Section to co-produce a series of MCLE panels focused on mastering modern day client communication. This day-long symposium hosted by Santa Barbara Law School concluded with a diversity and inclusion networking reception sponsored by JAMS, and attracted law students, newer lawyers, and seasoned business law practitioners alike.
BLS has partnered with the California Minority Counsel Program, a 30+ year old organization with the express mission of increasing diversity in the legal profession by co-sponsoring networking events and having a presence at the CMCP’s Annual Business Conference, to recruit and introduce diverse attendees and their allies to the BLS.
Also, the BLS is actively working with the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) to develop programming of interest to lawyers early in their careers. For instance, the BLS is planning an event hosted by a panel of lawyers with diverse practices and business development strategies who will answer candid questions about how they each learned to “make rain” in their practices.
Finally, BLS has actively worked to increase the diversity of its authors, speakers, Standing Committee members and Standing Committee leadership, as well as its Executive Committee, because the Section recognizes the importance of bringing a diversity of experience, perspective, expertise and also racial and ethnic diversity, to its Section. The BLS, as well as the CLA, is working to exemplify the diverse clientele we represent as California business lawyers, while remaining inclusive and welcoming to all our members.
In closing, the level of attendance and participation at the Annual Meeting by the California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and California Judges Association, the California Association of Black Lawyers, as well as several international legal delegations, all demonstrate that the CLA has emerged as THE bar association for ALL California attorneys – and this year, the BLS has demonstrated that it is one of the most active and vibrant Sections in the 100,000+ member strong CLA.
— Monique D. Jewett-Brewster
Editors Note: Edited from the 2018-19 BLS Chair’s comments at the BLS Breakfast at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the California Lawyers Association in Monterey, California.