California Lawyers Association

Building the Future by Giving Back

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November 2023

By Tara R. Burd
Chair, CLA Board of Representatives  

This month the California Lawyers Association (CLA) is launching its first-ever association-wide annual theme: Building the Future. And what better way to build our future than to give back.

When I started my solo practice straight out of law school, I really did not know where to begin to develop my business. I was fortunate enough to receive a referral to a women-only networking group called Savvy CEO. Like many business-to-business networking groups, each meeting featured one or two participants who shared about their business and made an ask. 

Suffice it to say that the ladies recognized that I needed help: the photographer offered to take free headshots for me, the website developer helped me set up my domain names, the graphic designer designed my logo, the financial advisor helped me understand my insurance needs, and everyone was patient and supportive until I finally found my footing in the profession. 

Despite my rocky start, they were invested in me and came to trust me for their legal needs. Twelve years later, I am still connected to so many of those wonderful women. We continue to refer business to one another and have supported each other through personal and professional highs and lows. 

Why am I sharing this story? Because this group of women helped me to build my future, and I am compelled to return the favor in whatever way I can. 

Although I cannot offer headshots or domain names, I can help CLA create programs and opportunities for lawyers that ensure they have the appropriate foundations for building and developing their careers. These opportunities already come in so many forms from our sections’ scholarly journals, eNews publications, and paperback books to our MCLE webinars, free YouTube content, and podcasts. We are also re-envisioning our in-person programs to further our mentorship and collaboration efforts. I welcome other ideas for how CLA can help support you.

Finally, I’d encourage you to think about how you can give back and help CLA build a future legal profession that is diverse and strong. 

There are many options to choose from. Consider donating to the California Lawyers Foundation (CLF). As the charitable arm and partner of California Lawyers Association, CLF conducts programs, projects, and activities to further our shared mission of promoting excellence, diversity, and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. 

Another way to give back is through volunteering with CLA. Get involved with your section leadership, join a CLA-wide committee, or sign up for a pro bono activity. The opportunities are endless.

I’d encourage you to think back about who and what helped you when you were first starting out and perhaps that will inspire you. If you’re new to the profession, giving back can be a great way to build your future career.

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