Sacramento, CA

Executive Director

Job Title:  Executive Director
Classification: Exempt
Reports to: CLA Board of Representatives and the CLA President

The California Lawyers Association (CLA), a nonprofit, voluntary 501(c)(6) bar organization, is one of the largest voluntary bar associations in the country, with 50,000 lawyer members of at least one CLA Section[1], and over 40,000 members of its newer professionals’ group, the CYLA.[2]  CLA has 18 Sections, over 20 committees, and an affiliated 501(c)(3) foundation—the California Lawyers Foundation (CLF).

CLA was launched in 2018 when the Sections and CYLA separated from the State Bar of California. The State Bar of California retained regulatory functions whereas the voluntary associational aspects typically associated with bars are now carried out by CLA. CLA’s annual budget since inception has ranged from $7 to $11 million; CLA employs 29 individuals, including the Executive Director. 

What CLA Does

CLA’s mission is to promote excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. Drawing on the long and rich history of the CLA Sections, in a typical year CLA produces dozens of CLE programs attended by thousands of attorneys from around the state, country, and world. In addition, CLA routinely produces hundreds of online educational offerings—some for CLE credit and some to help build community and to educate about issues ranging from such diverse topics as racial justice, how to become a judge, and health and wellness topics. CLA also provides free and low-cost continuing legal education consistent with its statutory requirement to do so.

Consistent with CLA’s mission, CLA has three key initiative areas:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion;
  • Civics Education and Outreach; and
  • Access to Justice.

Both the Association and the CLF undertake programming in all three initiative areas. 

CLA advocates on behalf of the legal profession in the State of California. Through its role as the lead bar for the California delegation to the ABA House of Delegates, CLA also advocates on behalf of the profession on the national stage. CLA offers California’s legal community the opportunity to make connections, get educated and celebrate one another through two flagship events—it’s Solo and Small Firm Summit and Annual Meeting. CLA works diligently to cultivate collegial and mutually beneficial relations with a number of external stakeholders. Towards that end, CLA convenes monthly calls for all bar executives and member leaders in the state.

Position Summary:

The Executive Director, based at CLA headquarters in Sacramento, is responsible to the CLA Board of Representatives and CLA President for the effective operation of CLA. The Executive Director provides leadership to staff and manages the operations of CLA using sound business principles, effective fiscal management, and assures statutory and contractual compliance. The Executive Director also represents CLA, when appropriate, with key stakeholders including members, the Legislature and judicial associations.

The Executive Director advises and assists the Board of Representatives, which is responsible for policy, strategy, and oversight, and the President, in the development of CLA; to implement Board policies and organizational strategy; and to administer the day-to-day operations of the Association, including providing superb professional support to CLA’s Sections and Committees. The Executive Director advises and makes recommendations to the Board of Representatives and the President on Association-wide matters; directs and supervises the overall administration and implementation of policies, programs, and services; effectively develops and manages budgets; and partners with the Board to achieve and sustain financial sustainability.

As the leader of staff, the Executive Director manages the relationship between staff and members in Sections, committees, and task forces to ensure a smooth, effective working relationship; an inclusive and productive environment; and rewarding membership and employment experiences, all for the benefit of CLA. The Executive Director has exclusive authority for the hiring, firing, training and development, supervision, promotion, and compensation of all personnel.

Key indicators of success in the first two years will include continuing the successful implementation of the new membership and dues structure and of the association management system with the ultimate goal of helping CLA, including its Sections, thrive and grow; assessing progress against (and, if appropriate, revising) the Association’s operations in light of its strategic plan (once adopted); retention of staff; increasing brand awareness and visibility; increasing member value; retaining and recruiting members; and increasing non-dues revenue and balancing CLA’s community (central) budget.

Skills and Requirements:

The Executive Director is analytical, creative and possesses extensive knowledge and experience in professional organizations, and ideally, in bar associations. They should have the capacity to design, develop and implement business plans derived from strategic plans, and to effectively managing and mentor key personnel. The Executive Director should have the ability to communicate the values and interests of CLA to key stakeholders. The Executive Director should also be flexible, patient, diplomatic, and passionate about member focus and member advocacy.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A J.D. degree;
  • Admitted to the State Bar of California or the bar of any state or the District of Columbia;
  • At least seven years of experience in positions of increasing managerial and leadership responsibility;
  • Proven management, leadership and supervisory skills;
  • Strong creative and strategic skills;
  • Experience developing and managing budgets;
  • Experience hiring, training, developing, supervising, and appraising personnel;
  • Patience and flexibility, including the ability to manage competing and changing agendas; and
  • Strong oral and written communications skills.

Functions Include:

  • Overnight travel required, primarily statewide, but occasionally nationwide, to attend conferences, Section Executive Committee meetings, CLA and CLF conferences and events, and other CLA organizational partner events; and
  • Evening and weekend work required to participate in meetings, conferences, events, etc.

Further Narrative Regarding the Position:

The Executive Director will:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace and in CLA activities.
  • Continue to attract and train a quality professional team with member service as a unifying goal; to develop the next generation of CLA professional leadership; and to set forth a succession plan with contingencies for all senior executive staff roles. They will be a strong supporter and manager of staff; and work with leaders to help develop a positive, mutually respectful partnership and positive organizational culture between member leaders and the professional team. They will instill in staff at all levels a service orientation and a vision of CLA as an organization of and for its members. To that end, the successful candidate will ensure a high level of service, assistance, and responsive communications to all members of CLA. They will delegate effectively but maintain responsibility. They will have a working knowledge of the different staff and member functions to facilitate the management and supervision of CLA employees tasked in those areas.
  • Negotiate and approve prudent contracts, consistent with CLA’s policies; assure compliance, as appropriate, with any restrictions associated with CLA or CLF funding sources and generally steward the organization’s resources in a manner consistent with the best interests of CLA members.
  • Ensure that CLA maintains cutting-edge technological and social media infrastructure to support its activities and position CLA to be digital-first and lead in an increasingly competitive environment, including outreach, Section and committee support, and member services.
  • Effectively represent and articulate CLA’s mission and goals to internal and external audiences.
    • They will continue effective channels of communication and information distribution within CLA and maintain a personal commitment to and instill in staff a strong commitment to transparency. They will ensure that CLA officers and the CLA Board are kept informed about developments impacting the profession as a whole or the organization. They will report to the Board of Representatives and President at regular meetings and through interim communications and communicate regularly and consistently to CLA members and, when appropriate, to the public.
    • They will be an active promoter of CLA, and as delegated by the Board and under CLA policy, coordinate with member leadership to represent CLA to external stakeholders (i.e., the legislature, sibling bar associations, the courts, etc.) and represent CLA at organizations and with peer association and bar professionals (such as ECLA, ABA, NABE, NCBP, ACLEA, ASAE and other professional groups). The President and Executive Director are the only two individuals authorized to speak on behalf of the Association, including to the media.

Indications of interest, inquiries, applications and nominations should be directed by email to:

Barbara Mendel Mayden
Young Mayden, LLC


[1] Under the current (2021) structure, each Section membership is a separate membership; one cannot join the Association itself separately without being part of a Section.  Under the new (2022) structure, individuals will join the Association and may join the Section(s) of their choice; Section membership is no longer mandatory.

[2] Under the current (2021) structure, CYLA members pay nothing for eight years. Under the new (2022) structure, they will receive three (3) years of free membership and thereafter must pay.

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CLA Membership is $99 and includes one section. Additional sections are $99 each.