California Lawyers Association

Starting Fresh

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January 2024

By Betty J. Williams
CLA President

Betty Williams

January 1st always feels like a fresh start to me. To do better…to be better. When I was young, I began the new year by planning simple goals like writing more neatly or talking less (neither stuck). As I grew older, I made promises to myself to quit bad habits, stick to a fitness routine, and spend more time with loved ones.

Some promises were kept. Some were broken and appeared on my list of “resolutions” the following year. However, I never beat myself up when my ambitions outweighed my achievements. Nor should you. It serves no purpose and stalls action. Instead, I prefer to regroup and set new objectives, because as the saying goes, “Most people don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.”

Throughout the year there may be more interesting or meaningful opportunities that didn’t come to mind when the year was new. Whether we intentionally seek out a new job or leadership role, or something unexpected occurs, change is inevitable. How we deal with change impacts the results we realize.

As members of CLA, we are committed to CLA’s mission to promote excellence, diversity, and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. It is imperative we remind ourselves that we sit at the intersection of innovation and dedication. These are not simply words on our website but a call to be part of a community of advocates for those who need a voice.

For example, last year we:

  • Congratulated our colleagues for their professional accomplishments, including former Labor and Employment Law Section Chair Erich Shiners being named assistant director and chief counsel of the California Employment Training Panel, and Executive Committee Member Shelli Strahle voted the best lawyer in Santa Cruz County for a second consecutive year. 
  • Cultivated relationships with our many partners, including ABA President Mary Smith, whom we celebrated last year, and Hellen Hong, CEO of CalBar Affinity, our member benefits provider. Hellen also creates content for our members, including this 2024 Checklist.

It’s thrilling to think about what inspires you, or how you honor yourself in your role, whether it is as a lawyer, a leader, or a friend. I encourage each of us to spend some time thinking about this New Year and what we may bring to it. Welcome 2024 with a spirit of excellence and exploration. Let’s share our objectives and intentions with one another, work together, and do great works for ourselves, each other, and California’s legal field.


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