California Lawyers Association

CLA Creates New Section, Holds Virtual Annual Meeting

October 2020

By Ona Alston Dosunmu

The time around the Annual Meeting is always an exciting time and a welcome opportunity to reflect on everything our bar association has accomplished. Our retrospective thoughts tend to go back several months but the past two weeks alone have been extraordinarily eventful! We approved the creation of a new CLA Section focused on legal issues, regulations and education of the profession on privacy law and related issues. Our new slate of officers took the helm. And we hosted our first virtual Annual Meeting, which had record-breaking attendance.

The creation of a new Section focused on privacy law issues demonstrates CLA’s ability to be responsive to member interests and the evolving legal landscape. Through this new Section, CLA plans to attract individuals for whom privacy-related work—GDPR, CCPA, HIPPA, FERPA, to name a few relevant statutes—is one of their primary areas of focus. By bringing new members into the CLA family, they will learn of other CLA offerings, hear about the stellar work other Sections are doing, participate in CLE offered by multiple other Sections and CLA-wide activities such as advocacy, racial justice and access to justice.

I would be remiss if I did not express deep gratitude to our Immediate Past Chair, Chip Wilkins, who had to lead CLA through multiple historically unprecedented crises—yet lead he did. We pivoted to all online programming and met via Zoom. But we did more than adjust and adapt. With Chip at the helm, we advanced important strategic priorities for the organization and laid the groundwork for continued growth and development. I am very excited and look forward to continuing to work with our President Emilio Varanini, our new Board Chair Betty Williams, and our new slate of Board Officers. They are: Ryan Baron, vice chair; Uzzi Ranaan, secretary; and Herb Stroh, treasurer. Vice President Jeremy Evans will also continue in his role for the next leadership year. I have had the pleasure of working with all of these individuals in various capacities since I joined CLA in 2019 and am confident that together we will continue to build and grow CLA into a thriving organization.

Last week we wrapped up our first ever all-virtual Annual Meeting. We have heard rave review from members and there were many high points over the course of the two and half days of programming, including the two plenary speakers. Angela Glover Blackwell from PolicyLink in Oakland gave an inspiring, educational and uplifting explanation of the current moment of racial reckoning in America and why our society may come out stronger and better on the other side of this period of history. And Dr. Mark Taylor gave us a fun—at time hilarious—tour de force through the generations currently in the U.S. workplace. The Annual Meeting was also an opportunity to partner with our siblings on the bench. We hosted two well-received joint sessions with the California Judges Association—a panel and a fireside chat between our respective presidents, Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann and Emilio Varanini.

And we are now gearing up for the (first virtual) Solo and Small Firm Summit, which will be held October 7-8. If you have not registered yet, please do. This is a “do not miss” opportunity to participate in learning focused specifically on the needs of individuals who practice alone or in small firms, which is a significant percentage of lawyers in the state.

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