California Lawyers Association

My First 60 Days

Please share:

March 2024

By Chris Nguyen
Chief Executive Officer

As I approach 60 days as the new Chief Executive Officer for California Lawyers Association and its Foundation, I want to share some observations and thoughts. I am grateful to our leadership, volunteers, members, and staff for welcoming me with sincerity, integrity, and commitment. We are a large organization with great responsibility, and you have ushered me into this role with enthusiasm and a willingness to look toward possibilities.

I am honored to have met so many helpful and supportive people across our association in such a short time. I have witnessed, first-hand, the dedication of our employees and volunteers. I recognize they are working to ensure we are helpful and engaged with all constituents. I am impressed with the desire to collaborate and responsiveness of our many committee members and have enjoyed the chance to attend several section events over the past two months. I have learned many new things by attending sessions and talking with members. Some of these ideas can be transferred to other departments and sections so that we, as an organization, benefit from better practices.

CLA is accountable as the lawyer association for all California-licensed attorneys. We want to be recognized as the statewide voice for the legal community, advocating on behalf of our members before the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Executive Branch, and the State Bar of California. Our mission and objectives to promote excellence, diversity, and inclusion align with our vision to help advance lawyers practicing throughout California.

We are indeed ambitious, and rightly so, because we have the largest licensed attorney base in the U.S., and our state sits at the forefront of many emerging trends. Our 18 Sections and 16 Committees provide advocacy, education, and networking for multiple practice areas within the legal profession. Our events and opportunities are numerous. From educational webinars to in-person statewide activities, we are working to make a difference.

To excel requires collaboration, efficiency, and a focus on membership service. We are a mindful organization with an aspiration to be a great organization. To achieve our goals, we must improve our processes, customer service, and operations. A solutions mentality should be embedded in our organizational DNA. We must optimize our time and resources to better advance the value of CLA membership as it relates to the quality of programs and services.

We must unite our synergies and best practices through our competencies and partnerships. While we may have incredible strengths individually, through collaboration and teamwork we can utilize the multiplier effect and make an impact beyond our individual disciplines. Benefits are gained when all sides sit together to learn about growing areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data privacy law.

Our partnership goals are made apparent through the successes of the California Lawyers Foundation. This is an excellent vehicle for us to increase the diversity and inclusiveness in our state’s legal profession. Beyond our role to grant funds, we are helping the legal community to be more reflective of California’s population. Most recently, the foundation added the California Legal Pathway Collaborative, offering a pathway for underrepresented high school students to learn about the legal industry. CLPC recently hosted an incredible Legislative Day at the capitol, where over 200 students heard from lawmakers, officials, and judges. This is an example of the potential to make a difference in the lives of young adults and others in society normally closed to this possibility. Discussions are being held to hold a similar event for students in southern California.

I am confident that, together, we will do incredible things. As your CEO, I am a facilitator for CLA to achieve new heights. I am here with open-mindedness in service to you. I encourage you to share your ideas, challenges, and concerns so that together we can understand and trust each other as we forge a solution-oriented organization dedicated to improving the legal profession while providing access to justice to the people of California. Together we will harness our collective talents and transform ourselves into a great organization.

In closing, opportunity and potential are the words that come to mind as I reflect upon these first 60 days. Staff and volunteer members have expressed optimism about the future.  Let us seize this opportunity to harness our potential to build that better future.

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