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California Lawyers Association

From the Desk of the Executive Director

By the time this appears in your inbox I will be starting my 3rd month with CLA. The old saw about “time flies . . .” has certainly proven to be true. I am very much enjoying the opportunity visit with Section Executive Committees and to learn about the amazing work going on across the organization. So far, I’ve spent time with roughly a third of the Section Executive Committees and met, albeit in some cases briefly, almost every Section Chair and Board Representative. I continue to be blown away by the tireless hard work and extraordinary amount of volunteer time CLA leaders give to the organization.

As I’ve gone about the business of learning CLA, one volunteer leader asked me a question that gave me pause and caused me to reflect on CLA’s journey. It crystalized for me how differently our members may be experiencing the transition from the old State Bar to a new, voluntary bar association from the way the CLA team here in Sacramento is experiencing it. The question was, essentially: “When will things get back to normal?”

At the time I wasn’t sure how to answer. For one, my impression is that “normal” under the State Bar wasn’t always optimal. In addition, “normal” to me suggests doing what the Sections and bar associations normally do, which may risk squandering the awesome opportunity presented to CLA to build something new. What this person was really asking may have been: “When can we volunteers with busy practices, families and lives rely more on the CLA team to do the heavy lifting of producing CLEs, journals and resources and reduce the burden volunteers have been carrying—a burden that is above and beyond that normally carried by even the most stalwart volunteers in established professional and industry associations? My hope is that this is beginning to happen already and that by the end of the year we will have settled into a “new normal” so our volunteer leaders are not working quite so hard. More importantly, we want our volunteer leaders working on the right things—strategic direction and identifying need, not logistical administrivia or attempting to micromanage the infrastructure by committee.

That said, my hope is that we will never be “normal” if that means not experimenting, innovating, growing and changing to become a bar association that meets the needs of the profession as they exist today and as those needs evolve tomorrow because that’s the goal–to build the bar association of the future, to create a bar association for 2025 and beyond, not to replicate the tired old bar associations of the 1970s or before.***

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