By Jeremy M. Evans
Immediate Past President, California Lawyers Association
The California Lawyers Association (CLA) Bar Leaders Conference and separately the Annual Meeting and CLA & California Judges Association (CJA) Presidents Gala (CLA & CJA Presidents Gala) at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in America’s Finest City, San Diego, California, were a resounding success. The educational sessions were well received and attended. The keynotes were fantastic. The swearing-in ceremony was memorable. The excitement reached a fever pitch for the Second Annual CLA & CJA Presidents Gala.
The recipe for success is the same for many bar association annual meetings. Bring attorneys, judges, and the legal community together for fellowship, share ideas, struggles, solutions, and be productive. The 2023 CLA Annual Meeting had all of those elements and more.
On Wednesday, September 20, the 2023 Bar Leaders Conference included presentations by bar presidents and executive directors sharing advice about their experiences and best practices. CLA Associate Executive Director of Communications Sheila Johnston presented tips for leveling up professional and personal influence on social media. Next, two local judges discussed their experiences and wisdom from the bench and in bar leadership. San Diego County Bar Association Executive Director Bill Baldwin kicked off the conference, followed by insights from Hellen Hong, CEO of CalBar Affinity. The nonprofit operates CalBar Connect, CLA’s partner, providing exclusive discounts and special deals on goods and services for California attorneys.
On Thursday, September 21, the 2023 CLA Annual Meeting began and included a Law Student Track, allowing law students to connect with lawyers to learn without charge. The day was action-packed with California Lawyers Foundation and California Lawyers Association board meetings, followed by wonderful keynotes (civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson and Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Patricia Guerrero), education, networking, and a momentous signing of two bar association friendship agreements and reception with 23 foreign dignitaries organized by CLA’s International Law and Immigration Section.
On Friday, September 22, the 2023 CLA Annual Meeting continued with another great keynote interview of litigator Camille Vasquez, whose practice focuses on plaintiff-side defamation suits. The day also featured more outstanding education, several Section receptions and awards ceremonies, dinners organized by attendees and for Section Executive Committees, and finally, an elective San Diego Padres baseball game versus the St. Louis Cardinals with conference participants. Participants also geared up for a terrific finale on Saturday.
The culmination of a year of planning by CLA’s wonderful staff and member leaders concluded Saturday, September 23, with festivities in education, the swearing-in ceremony for CLA, CJA, and State Bar of California Board members and officers, and, finally, the Second Annual CLA & CJA Presidents Gala. The Gala is a black-tie affair that brings together the legal community to celebrate the best of the best attorneys and judges: those who have given the most and achieved great things for the legal community and beyond. It was a momentous occasion altogether.