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2021 News Releases

California Lawyers Association Names Oyango A. Snell as Its New CEO and Executive Director

December 6, 2021

The California Lawyers Association (CLA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Oyango A. Snell as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director, effective December 13, 2021. Snell comes to CLA from the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) where he served as the organization’s first in-house general counsel in its 114-year history. CLA was founded in 2018 upon separation by the California State Legislature with the State Bar of California. CLA is a member-driven, mission-focused organization dedicated to the professional advancement of attorneys practicing in the state of California.

Oyango Snell, California Lawyers Association CEO and Executive Director
Oyango Snell, California Lawyers Association CEO and Executive Director

Holding previous positions representing national, regional, and statewide associations, Snell brings significant association management and government relations experience to CLA at a time when the voluntary bar association is looking to grow its membership and increase engagement with the three branches of state government.

“Oyango is the perfect marriage in personality, character, and discipline to be the next CEO and Executive Director of the California Lawyers Association,” said CLA President Jeremy M. Evans. “We are excited to work together to grow the organization in our next chapter by providing exemplary services and programing to existing members and adding new members, new practice areas, amazing events, and leading in education, legislative affairs, and relationships across the great State of California and the globe.”

“I am humbled by this wonderful opportunity to combine two things that I love dearly – the legal profession and nonprofit association management, Snell said. “I look forward to working together with our volunteers and members to accomplish CLA’s important advocacy and education goals.”

CLA recently rolled out new membership pricing options, including an introductory plan that includes access to CLA-wide benefits such as free access to the Fastcase legal research platform (valued at $995/year), 18 hours of free MCLE, and a wide array of helpful content for members.

Snell, since March 2017, has served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at WSPA, a nonprofit business association organized similarly to CLA and based in Sacramento. Among his many achievements, he created a first-in-class in-house legal advocacy and human resources program, provided legal advocacy for monumental climate policy initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and created a leadership initiative for women in the oil and natural gas industry.

Previously, Snell served as the chief legislative and regulatory counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) in Washington, D.C., from January 2012 to March 2017. From August 2009 to December 2011, he was a solo practitioner in Columbus, Ohio, providing legal counsel and regulatory advocacy to various business groups.

Snell is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) credentialed by the American Society of Association Executives and he earned his Juris Doctor (JD) from The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.

California Lawyers Association Launches Dynamic New Membership Structure

October 4, 2021

 California Lawyers Association (CLA) has announced the expansion and enhancement of its membership structure. The introduction of two new membership options aims to deliver dynamic ways for members and prospective members to engage with CLA. Instead of one, simple membership plan, CLA members can now choose from three different tiers to engage with the association in traditional and evolving ways. Content from the Solo and Small Firm and Law Practice Management and Technology Sections will automatically be available for all CLA members regardless of which membership option is selected.

Membership in one of the largest bar associations in the nation will be offered as follows:

The Introductory Membership:
One of two new options will feature a plan for professionals whose practice, and therefore what they need from CLA, changes frequently. This membership will give the member access to all CLA-wide benefits without becoming a member of a particular Section. Content from the Solo and Small Firm and Law Practice Management and Technology Sections will automatically be included.

The Standard Membership:
The default for current members, who will automatically be enrolled for the remainder of 2021, provides all traditional, standard benefits without having to add a new membership for additional Sections, which can now be separately added at substantially lower costs than before.

The All-Access Membership:
Finally, for the most engaged, involved, and active members, the All-Access option, available via the CLA website only, will include membership and digital access to all CLA Sections. This option benefits those who need broad, digital access to content, and wide visibility, such as in-house general counsel, senior or managing partners, and academics, and includes additional discounts.

Aside from the above membership options, law students, judges, and judicial officers can join up to three Sections at no charge, available on the CLA website only. Newly admitted attorneys will receive the Standard Membership for three years at no charge.

“After listening to members and prospective members, we decided to change our membership and dues structure to align with the wishes of California’s legal community,” said CLA Interim Co-Executive Director Tricia Horan. “First and foremost, we are committed to providing CLA members with incomparable content, resources, and opportunities to connect with colleagues. Aligned with that is our desire to be nimble and change with the times. Starting Fall 2021, current and prospective members will have two new ways to belong to and engage with our association,” CLA Interim Co-Executive Director Ellen Miller added.

Please visit the CLA website to learn more about the roll-out of these new offerings. As of October 1st, 2021, new members can sign up for 2022 and receive membership for the remainder of 2021.

Gilberto Vera to Receive California Young Lawyers Association’s 2021 Jack Berman Award of Achievement

September 23, 2021

The California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) is pleased to announce that Gilberto Vera is the recipient of its 2021 Jack Berman Award of Achievement. CYLA annually confers the Jack Berman Award of Achievement to recognize a new or young lawyer within their first eight years of practice for their distinguished service to the public, the judiciary or the legal profession. This year’s pool of nominees was extremely competitive, and we thank and recognize everyone who submitted nominations.

About Gilberto Vera

Mr. Vera is a Senior Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego where he manages a staff of four attorneys, two advocates, and one case manager on the housing team. Before the start of the pandemic, Mr. Vera’s practice focused on unlawful detainer defense, representing families facing housing insecurity. At the start of 2020 and through 2021, Mr. Vera transitioned his practice to address COVID-19 and the ensuing economic impact and housing crisis. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Vera connected residents to rental assistance, legal representation, and bilingual access to eviction moratorium information that proved invaluable to 1,466 individual households in San Diego County. In addition to direct work with clients, Mr. Vera led trainings in English and Spanish on various local, state, and federal eviction moratoria, and became a sought-after subject matter expert on new legislation by elected officials.

Mr. Vera holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. A first generation Mexican-American, Mr. Vera is a South San Diego native and has dedicated his career to public service with the mantra “to give his community a voice.”

About the Jack Berman Award of Achievement

CYLA established this prestigious award in 1992 in memory of Jack Berman, a young attorney who performed outstanding service to both the public and the profession before he tragically died in a shooting in San Francisco. The Award honors Mr. Berman’s dedicated service to issues of concern to the profession, especially to young lawyers.

In conferring the award, the CYLA Executive Committee considers projects or service to the public, the judiciary, and/or the legal profession that the nominee has taken part in or spearheaded. To be eligible, an awardee must be an active California attorney in their first eight years of practice. The projects or services may be – but need not be – pro bono. The award is intended to recognize an early-career lawyer for their individual achievements and contributions.

The 2021 Jack Berman award will be conferred to Mr. Vera by the CYLA Executive Committee later this fall.

California Lawyers Association Ethics Committee Issues Formal Opinion on Ethical Screens

May 17, 2021

The California Lawyers Association (CLA) Ethics Committee has issued its first formal ethics opinion, Formal Opinion 2021-1, addressing Ethical Screens. The opinion promises to be a vital resource for any law firm wishing to minimize the risk of conflicts. Several Rules of Professional Conduct expressly provide for implementation of a screen without client consent to rebut the presumption of shared confidences, and CLA’s opinion clarifies and expounds on those Rules, including 1.0.1(k) (which provides a definition of the term “screened”).

The opinion addresses the elements an ethical screen must have in circumstances where such a screen is expressly required by the Rules. Importantly, the opinion notes that there may be a distinction between what is ethically required to comply with professional obligations and what a court may view as necessary to avoid disqualification, which sometimes may be granted without a violation. 

The most critical ethical screen factors are those expressly set forth in the Rules. The screen must be implemented in a timely manner, and include preventative measures to protect against the confidential information of the former or potential client from being shared with others in the firm. There should be no communications related to any matter being protected in either direction across the screen. The lawyers whose conflict results in them being screened off should not receive any portion of the fees from the matters they are screened from. And the affected clients must receive notice of the fact of the screen and its terms so they have an opportunity to comment about them. Additional factors may help the efficacy of the screen in preventing the sharing of confidential information, but whether they should be implemented largely depends on the circumstances.

Any ethical screen must ultimately be judged by whether it is sufficient to meet its purpose, to satisfy concerns that a prohibited attorney has not and will not have any involvement with, or communication concerning, the screened matter that would support a reasonable inference that confidential information was or will be disclosed.

CLA’s CEO and Executive Director Ona Alston Dosunmu lauded the Committee’s first opinion. “This important opinion demonstrates our commitment to provide analysis and thought leadership to support the ethical practice of law. CLA will continue to provide its members and the legal community with guidance and resources to promote excellence in the practice of law,” Dosunmu said.

California Lawyers Association and the D.C. Bar Announce Results of Groundbreaking Study on Attorney Mental Health and Well-Being

May 12, 2021

Today, the California Lawyers Association (CLA) and the D.C. Bar shared crucial findings from a groundbreaking research project that offers insight into the personal and workplace risk factors for mental health problems, substance use, and attrition among practicing attorneys. In 2020, the California Lawyers Association and the D.C. Bar announced their participation in the project, which has now yielded the first of several forthcoming papers. Entitled “Stress, Drink, Leave: An Examination of Gender-Specific Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems and Attrition Among Licensed Attorneys,” the research was published today in the peer-reviewed, scientific journal PLOS ONE. This first-of-its-kind research project generated significant, alarming, and highly instructive data which will greatly enhance the legal profession’s efforts to improve the health and well-being of its members.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Roughly half of practicing attorneys are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, with approximately 30% of those falling in the mild range and nearly 20% falling in the moderate-severe range.
  • Over half of the attorneys screened positive for risky drinking, and 30% screened for high-risk hazardous drinking (which is interpreted as alcohol abuse or possible dependence).
  • Women are experiencing meaningfully worse mental health than men and are drinking more hazardously.
  • Considering the higher rates of mental health distress experienced by female attorneys, an expected but nonetheless troubling result is that 1 in 4 women is contemplating leaving the legal profession due to mental health problems, burnout, or stress. 17% of male attorneys report the same thoughts.

The research project was led by attorney mental health and well-being expert Patrick Krill, who collaborated on the work with Dr. Justin Anker from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

“The legal profession continues to have significant work ahead of it to improve mental health and gender disparities among practicing attorneys. Our hope is that this essential research will be a useful tool for performing that work in a timely and effective manner,” said Krill.

Their research found that mental health problems and hazardous drinking are exceedingly high among currently employed attorneys. Most notably, a significant gender disparity was revealed, with female attorneys experiencing more mental distress, greater levels of overcommitment and work-family conflict, and lower prospects of promotion than their male counterparts. Additionally, the findings raise meaningful concerns about the stress levels of both male and female attorneys, and the possible impact of that stress on the delivery of effective legal services.

CLA’s CEO and Executive Director Ona Alston Dosunmu emphasized the importance of this research for the organization and its members. “We at CLA are so grateful to have this rigorous, data-based analysis to back up what we have all known intuitively. This study will enable us to develop targeted, effective programs to enhance the well-being of our members—particularly women.”

The results of this study highlight the importance of addressing the structural, cultural, and organizational infrastructures responsible for this mental health gender disparity and are an important step towards achieving the profession’s longstanding goals around improving mental health and the retention of female attorneys.

“The D.C. Bar deeply appreciates the study’s authors and our participating members, without whom this critical work would not have been possible,” said D.C. Bar CEO Robert Spagnoletti. “These insights will enable us to better serve our members and help drive awareness about the severity of mental health issues and gender disparities in the legal profession.”

To view the complete findings from this research project, visit the published article in PLOS ONE.

California Lawyers Association Issues Statement Regarding Violence at the U.S. Capitol

January 8, 2021

The California Lawyers Association (CLA) strongly condemns Wednesday’s violent occupation of the United States Capitol during the constitutional process of certifying the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. A commitment to the rule of law, civility, and fairness in the administration of justice is at the heart of CLA’s mission. Just as elected officials swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” upon admission to practice, all California lawyers take an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.”

Usurping constitutional processes through violence undermines democracy. The Congressional consideration of the results of the Electoral College was proceeding in a bipartisan manner in a revered place when it was suddenly interrupted. While other incidents of violence have occurred at the Capitol, it has not been invaded and occupied since the British did so in the 1800s.

We are grateful that law enforcement ultimately retook the Capitol and that the process of bipartisan certification of the Electoral College ultimately continued and concluded. But as lawyers, we must stand for the rule of law. Actions that terrorize representatives from both parties and prevent them from carrying out their role in the peaceful transition of power from one duly elected President and Vice President to the next cannot go unremarked. We condemn the violent takeover and interference with our government and will continue supporting all efforts to safeguard our republic and its over 231-year-old Constitution.

2020 News Releases

California Lawyers Association (CLA) Announces Privacy Law Section Formation

October 8, 2020

California Lawyers Association (“CLA”) is pleased to announce the formation of its new Privacy Law Section, which will focus on thought leadership around the legal, regulatory, and business issues involving privacy in the digital age. CLA’s Privacy Law Section will provide invaluable education and networking opportunities, including webinars, conferences, and exceptional MCLE and continuing professional education programming for lawyers and non-lawyers who are working on the full cycle of data management issues.

In particular, CLA’s Privacy Law Section will encourage a timely exchange of information regarding new and emerging laws and regulations related to the protection of personal data, and create a centralized forum and resource repository with useful and current information about privacy legal issues. The Privacy Law Section will also provide practitioners with the opportunity to network with likeminded colleagues by joining virtual and in-person networking events. In addition, the Section will participate in advocacy and rulemaking activities in Sacramento and provide technical input on proposed changes to privacy laws.

In a statement, CLA’s CEO and Executive Director, Ona Alston Dosunmu, expressed how important this Section is in the current environment. “In California, the right to privacy is enshrined in the California Constitution. Our legal community and legislators have been leaders in debating, proposing and enacting privacy laws that will impact the global economy for decades to come. With the California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, more than ever before consumers and businesses are interested in understanding the privacy law landscape in California and want to connect with others who practice privacy law in California. CLA recognizes the central role that California plays in the global privacy debate and what it means to have privacy. CLA’s new Privacy Law Section will build upon and amplify the work CLA has already been doing in privacy within our existing sections, including Antitrust, Business Law, Intellectual Property Law, and International Law and Immigration. CLA is proud to continue its tradition of leading the way in promoting excellence in the legal profession in California – and in the world. By creating a central meeting place and a home for privacy professionals, CLA seeks to serve not only California licensed attorneys but also other privacy and cybersecurity professionals around the globe who are looking for educational resources and thought leadership in privacy.”

CLA is actively seeking interested candidates to join the Privacy Law Section Executive Committee and to serve on the Section’s committees. CLA members may submit themselves for consideration and receive more information by contacting

California Lawyers Association and Legal Access Alameda Partner to Provide Help to Members of the Community Impacted by COVID-19

August 24, 2020

California Lawyers Association (CLA) and Legal Access Alameda (Legal Access) are proud to announce a new partnership hosting a free online question and answer portal through the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers (FLA) platform. The platform will offer pro bono legal services to Northern Californians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent wildfires, especially low-income residents who face limited access to legal services.

The project is focused on providing legal support to those especially affected by COVID-19, particularly in the areas of labor and employment, housing, and family law. With a four-month pilot program in Northern California starting September 1st, the program will help residents navigate the legal landscape with support from volunteer lawyers and experts in California law. Volunteer attorneys will take required online classes in the relevant law, and expert attorneys will review answers before they go out, in order to ensure that we are providing high-quality legal services.

In a statement, CLA President Emilio Varanini highlighted the importance of getting help where it is needed most. “When disaster strikes, the most vulnerable among us often find it hard to get the legal help they need. This partnership with Legal Access, hosting the Free Legal Answers platform, offers our volunteer attorneys a new opportunity to help our communities directly, providing access to critical resources as they navigate this pandemic.”

Legal Access President Janice Cho also addressed the desire the attorneys have to help. “Giving back is paramount in our profession. Bay Area lawyers and lawyers from around the state are eager to share their expertise with those in need, and the Free Legal Answers platform provides an easy and flexible opportunity to give much needed legal advice.” 

This project is the latest in a series of resources CLA and Legal Access have each developed to support their communities facing difficult decisions and legal obstacles, including the Navigating COVID-19 video series and the statewide website hosted by the Disaster Legal Services Collaborative. If you need help and to access the platform, go to

This partnership is made possible with support from the California Lawyers Foundation, the Bigglesworth Family Foundation, the van Löben Sels/RembeRock Foundation, and the Walter and Elise Haas Foundation, and with the partnership of the American Bar Association. 

California Lawyers Association 2020 Annual Meeting, Solo & Small Firm Summit Will Deliver Networking, CLE Credits, and Innovative Business Solutions in a Virtual Environment

August 7, 2020

California Lawyers Association (CLA) is proud to virtually host its two upcoming premier events: the Annual Meeting, and the Solo & Small Firm Summit. Both events will provide attendees with the ability to earn MCLE credits, network, learn about current trends affecting the legal profession, and interact with distinguished scholars and jurists.

CLA’s Annual Meeting will take place from September 24–26, 2020 and bring together California’s attorneys, academics, and judges. The three-day conference offers top-tier MCLE programming, networking, keynote addresses, and health and wellness activities. The online conference will consist of 20 breakout sessions, three general sessions, and a California Judges Association/California Lawyers Association joint panel and joint swearing-in ceremony.

CLA’s 2020 Solo & Small Firm Summit will be held from October 7–8, 2020 and consist of 11 programs offering MCLE credit. The purpose of the Summit is to address the needs of small and solo practitioners. Topics will include substantive law practice updates, business management and risk, technology best practices, starting and growing a practice, running virtual offices, cybersecurity, ethics, and using apps for growth.

“I’m extremely excited about our 2020 conferences. Because they’re virtual and a fraction of the cost of in-person events, they offer an incredible opportunity for attorneys from all over the state and, indeed all over the world, to participate. These proprietary conferences will give attendees unique opportunities to advance their careers by developing professionally and connecting with colleagues from the comfort and safety of their own homes,” CLA CEO and Executive Director Ona Alston Dosunmu stated.

For more information and to register, visit the CLA Annual Meeting and Solo & Small Firm Summit sites.

California Lawyers Association Supports The California Supreme Court’s Approval of Timely Changes to the California State Bar Exam and Licensure Process

July 17, 2020

This year’s graduating law school class faces tremendous uncertainty amidst the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic. To support recent law school graduates as they enter the workforce, the California Supreme Court recently handed down new bar exam guidelines and rules, supported by input from California Lawyers Association (CLA).

CLA President Emilio Varanini applauded the Court’s efforts and provided additional support for young attorneys. “CLA understands the Court’s need to adapt to address the important issues involving facilitating aspiring attorneys’ entry into our profession at what is an extraordinarily difficult time while protecting the public. From day one through the life of their practice, CLA will continue to advocate appropriately on behalf of aspiring lawyers and otherwise offer them the resources they need to succeed,” Varanini added.

Taking into consideration the tremendous risks with in-person group testing, the September 9-10, 2020 in-person bar exam will now be administered online on October 5-6, 2020 with other options being made available for those for whom taking the exam online may not be a viable option. Registration for the examination is extended through July 24, 2020, and the Court asked the State Bar to issue a “Frequently Asked Questions” guide for the new exam format. CLA welcomes these efforts by the State Bar and the Court to ensure that the exam can take place in a manner that understands the serious risks still posed by COVID-19 and recognizes that not all can easily take the exam online.

Recognizing that California is one of two states with the highest passing score for the minimum competency exam, the Supreme Court directed the State Bar to lower the passing score from 1440 to 1390. The modified passing score is effective beginning with the October 5-6, 2020 bar exam administration and will be prospectively applied to future exams.

In addition to the changes to the California bar exam, the Supreme Court addressed “Diploma Privilege,” which would allow graduates of American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law schools, if not all law schools, to be admitted to the bar without taking the bar exam. Recognizing the hardships faced by recent graduates in studying for and taking the bar exam, the Supreme Court has directed the State Bar to expedite the formation of a provisional licensure program. That program, which was supported by CLA in its comments to the Court, will allow 2020 law school graduates, regardless of whether they attend an ABA or non-ABA accredited school, to practice under the supervision of a licensed attorney, offering potential benefits to both young attorneys and their employers, provided that they take the bar exam by a certain date in the future. However, the Court properly rejected the Diploma Privilege proposal.

These new measures together support new law school graduates as they move into the workforce and begin their careers while still safeguarding the public. With the resources available to young attorneys through CLA and other organizations, this year’s law school graduates will be ready to enter the practice of law and provide legal services to the public as it emerges from the pandemic.

California Lawyers Association Provides Important Public Resources During Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic

May 5, 2020

The California Lawyers Association (CLA) and its team of volunteers and staff have created and compiled a wealth of resources to aid the public as the world experiences the incredible upheaval brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. CLA’s COVID-19 Public Resources page is a steadily growing portal of information and guidance designed to help navigate this crisis.

CLA CEO and Executive Director Ona Alston Dosunmu emphasized the importance of supporting the public at large. “As attorneys, we are trusted advisors and community leaders and now, more than ever, it is important to support each other, our neighbors and our communities,” Dosumnu said. “When a crisis like this occurs, we must pull together to come out stronger on the other side.”

CLA and its volunteers have created several new resources to help guide individuals and businesses through these uncertain times. Expert attorneys from across the State have contributed articles and thought leadership in their specialties to the Resources Page, including articles on California evictions and co-parenting, as well as contributions to outside sources of information. CLA has also created a new public focus video series, “Navigating COVID-19 Issues” which addresses important issues faced by families, businesses, and employers. The series already has 28 installments online and on CLA’s YouTube Channel with more added weekly. Each video taps into the legal specialization of CLA’s experienced volunteers and covers a range of topics:

  • Employee and Employer Concerns
    • Employee Benefits
    • Update: Employee Benefits
    • Employee Benefits SPANISH
    • Update: Employee Benefits SPANISH
    • Employee Health and Safety
    • Employee Health and Safety SPANISH
    • Employee Leave Laws
    • Employee Leave Laws SPANISH
    • Employer Concerns
    • Employer Concerns SPANISH
    • Notify Your Employees About HR 6201 Rights
    • Communicating with Your Workforce
  • Family Law Concerns
    • General Information about Custody and Spousal Support
    • Child Support and Spousal Support
    • Custody and Visitation
    • Domestic Violence Protection During the Pandemic
  • CARES Loan Program and Tax Concerns
    • Loan Programs: What’s In It For Me?
    • Loan Programs: Applying for C19 Loans
    • Loan Programs: Increasing EIDL Loan Value
    • Loan Programs: Loan Forgiveness
    • Loan Programs: Building Success
    • Tax Implications and Eligibility of Benefits Under the CARES Act
  • Bankruptcy Issues
    • Essential Insolvency Questions and Concerns for Business Owners
  • Tenant and Real Property Concerns
    • Overview of California’s Eviction Moratorium
  • Hospital and Healthcare Concerns
    • Healthcare Provider Employment Concerns
    • Telehealth Updates
    • Immediate Challenges Facing Hospitals
  • Other Concerns
    • Cyber Security Basics for the Work from Home Economy

All videos have English closed captions, and many are either available in Spanish or have Spanish closed captions. 

In addition, CLA has carefully curated a selection of other resources, including analyses and summaries of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, webinars on COVID-19, and free legal resources from Disaster Legal Assistance Collaborative. This is supplemented by a list of resources available through local government and agencies, banking institutions, industry groups, and mental health groups.

The COVID-19 Public Resource page and Video series are part of CLA’s Access to Justice Initiative. Find these resources and more at

California Lawyers Association and CalBar Connect Partner to Bring More Benefits to California Attorneys

April 13, 2020

 The California Lawyers Association (CLA) and CalBar Connect announced a new partnership today. CLA is focused on empowering California attorneys by providing valuable resources to overcome the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The alliance will help more California attorneys access an array of exclusive discounts offered by CalBar Connect’s many partners, saving time and resources during a difficult time. From business products and services to insurance and major appliances, attorneys can save on premium brands and services. Plus, a portion of purchases made through CalBar Connect is invested in legal aid organizations providing free legal services to Californians in need, setting up shop in rural areas where lawyers are few and far between, and working toward a California where no one is treated unfairly in our justice system.

“Partnering with CalBar Connect is an extension of our mission to deliver high-quality programs, events, and resources to California attorneys and to promote access to justice by providing funding to legal aid programs throughout the state. We encourage our members to check out all the discounts they can access through CalBar Connect,” said CLA CEO and Executive Director Ona Alston Dosunmu.

“We’re thrilled to partner with CLA and offer our wide range of discounts on premium brands to a larger audience. California attorneys can access discounts for work and home as well as additional benefits if they join CLA,” said Cal Bar Affinity CEO Bianca Sierra Wolff.

California Lawyers Association Statement Regarding Attack On Supreme Court Justices

March 6, 2020

The mission of the California Lawyers Association (CLA) includes promotion of fairness in the administration of justice and defense of the rule of law.

Current events are an important reminder of core tenets of our Constitutional Democracy and the role of lawyers and judges in it. As an organization comprised of officers of the court and as a representative of the legal profession, we are called to defend the rule of law, to discourage attacks on the independence of the judiciary, and to support the separation of powers.

The independence and fairness of the justice system are critical to the functioning of society. It requires a system in which the law is clearly communicated, fairly enforced, and where everybody is accountable to the same laws. The rule of law restricts the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

While protected by the First Amendment, personal attacks on judges by elected officials, warning that potential decisions in cases pending before the court will result in adverse consequences to those judges, are inappropriate. Attacks on those who are required to make decisions based on the facts presented, the law, and precedent – whether they be judges, lawyers, jurors, or others involved with the administration of justice – are unwarranted, undercut the ideals of fair enforcement, impartiality, and the equal application of laws to everyone, and denigrate a critical component of our government. The three co-equal branches of our Constitutional Democracy – Executive, Judicial and Legislative – each play a vital role. And each must respect the authority of the others.

California Lawyers Association Announces Its Second Annual Legislative Day

February 25, 2020

Lawmakers will address current legislative issues of interest to the legal profession at the California Lawyers Association’s (CLA) second annual Legislative Day on March 4, 2020 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento, CA. The day-long event will provide a unique opportunity for CLA members to meet with decision makers in Sacramento and discuss key issues shaping the legislative landscape.

The event includes an Awards Luncheon featuring a Keynote Speech by Assemblymember Mark Stone, Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Legislator of the Year Award recipients Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember David Chiu will also be on hand to accept their awards.

Saul Bercovitch, CLA’s Director of Governmental Affairs, noted that “this is only our second Legislative Day and participation has doubled from last year, with over one hundred people registered to attend.” Ona Alston Dosunmu, CLA’s CEO and Executive Director, said: “I am thrilled about the level of engagement by CLA members with our advocacy efforts. CLA is very excited to offer this event to our members, and looks forward to expanding engagement and enhancing opportunities as we continue to grow.”

California Lawyers Association Statement On The Rule Of Law And The Judiciary

February 14, 2020

The mission of the California Lawyers Association (CLA) includes promotion of fairness in the administration of justice and defense of the rule of law.

Current events are an important reminder of core tenets of our Constitutional Democracy and the role of lawyers and judges in it. As an organization comprised of officers of the court and as a representative of the legal profession, we are called to defend the rule of law, to discourage attacks on the independence of the judiciary, and to support the separation of powers.

The independence and fairness of the justice system is critical to the functioning of society. It requires a system in which the law is clearly communicated, fairly enforced, and where everybody is accountable to the same laws. The rule of law restricts the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

While protected by the First Amendment, if criticism of those who are required to make decisions based on the facts presented, the law, and precedent – whether they be judges, lawyers, jurors, or others involved with the administration of justice is unwarranted, it undercuts the ideals of fair enforcement, impartiality, and the equal application of laws to everyone and denigrates a critical component of our government. The three co-equal branches of our Constitutional Democracy – Executive, Judicial and Legislative – each play a vital role. And each must respect the authority of the others.

California Lawyers Association Trusts & Estates Section Amicus Brief Echoed In California Supreme Court Decision In Barefoot V. Jennings

January 27, 2020

The California Lawyers Association (CLA) is pleased to announce that its position in its first ever amicus brief was confirmed by the California Supreme Court in the recent Barefoot v. Jennings opinion. The brief, filed by CLA’s Trusts and Estates Section, addressed issues of standing in revocable trust cases as dictated by the Probate Code.

At issue was whether a disinherited beneficiary has standing to challenge in probate court the validity of a revocable trust’s disinheriting amendments on grounds of incompetence, undue influence, or fraud. The opinion, authored by Justice Chin, is a unanimous reversal of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and confirms that under the Probate Code a person who was disinherited indeed has standing in probate court to bring a challenge to the validity of the trust amendments that resulted in their disinheritance.

“Our successful amicus brief in Barefoot demonstrates CLA’s extraordinary expertise and the deep bench of legal talent among our members. I am incredibly proud of our Trusts and Estates Section and look forward to other amicus briefs filed by CLA,” said Ona Alston Dosunmu, CLA’s CEO.

The brief was drafted by Howard Kipnis, Herbert Stroh, Ciarán O’Sullivan, and Bryan Phipps. Leah Spero of CLA’s Amicus Committee and Greg Wolff of CLA’s Committee on Appellate Courts provided invaluable assistance along the way. Many others were involved (including the entire Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section and Saul Bercovitch, CLA’s Director of Governmental Affairs) in formulating the ultimate product.

California Lawyers Association Announces Groundbreaking New Research Project on Lawyer Mental Health and Well-being

January 6, 2020

The California Lawyers Association is pleased to announce its participation in a groundbreaking new research project designed to advance the understanding of and support for mental health and well-being in the legal profession.

The project, to be spearheaded by attorney mental health and well-being expert Patrick Krill, will be launched in late March and will build upon and expand findings from the landmark 2016 ABA/Hazelden Betty Ford study that Krill led. Along with his colleague Dr. Justin Anker, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, Krill is designing a survey that will assess the current prevalence of mental health and substance use problems among licensed attorneys and identify underlying risk factors and contributing causes for those problems.

“As the bar association for all California attorneys, CLA is excited to participate in this important research project. The health—including mental health—and well-being of our members is critically important to us,” said CEO and Executive Director Ona Alston Dosunmu. “We hope the findings from this critical survey will provide insights into ways to better serve and assist our members and the profession.”

The anonymous and confidential survey will investigate a range of individual risk factors for mental health and substance use problems (stress sensitivity, early life adversity, impulsivity, sleep, diet, exercise, social and financial health, burnout, personality disorders, drinking to cope with negative emotions) as well as cultural and workplace risk factors (stress in environment, incivility, toxic goals, incentivized and rewarded behaviors, attitudes towards substance use and self-care, availability and
utilization of support resources). Importantly, the survey will also ask respondents to share their views about what can and should be done to promote better mental health and personal well-being within the profession.

This research is crucial to furthering the progress that has been made around attorney mental health in recent years and will allow the profession to develop and deploy meaningful strategies and resources to improve the health of its members and to chart a more sustainable future.

“The legal profession has made great strides in the realm of mental health, substance use, and well- being over the last few years but, in many ways, our work is just beginning. Increased knowledge and understanding of the problems are vital to our ongoing efforts towards a long-term cultural change that will truly improve the health and well-being of lawyers. We need to move beyond prevalence data alone, and to shed light on the many risk factors that exist on both the profession-wide and individual level. I am incredibly grateful to the CLA for its enthusiasm for this work and its desire to lead on this front,” Krill said.

According to Krill, the survey will also be distributed to members of the D.C. Bar, the largest unified bar in the country. The D.C. Bar’s participation in the research project not only increases the sample size and geographic diversity of the study, but also demonstrates the type of collaborative approach necessary to successfully address profession-wide challenges. Analysis of the results is expected to take several months from the time data collection ends, with the findings to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

2019 News Releases

California Lawyers Association Announces Judge Carol S. Brosnahan is its 2019 Aranda Access to Justice Award Recipient

October 16, 2019

California Lawyers Association (“CLA”) is proud to announce that Judge Carol S. Brosnahan of Alameda County Superior Court is the recipient of its 2019 Aranda Access to Justice Award. The award, now in its 20th year, is presented in partnership with the California Judges Association and the Judicial Council. The award will be given to Judge Brosnahan at the Judicial Council’s November 14, 2019 meeting.

Named in honor of the late Judge Benjamin Aranda III, the award honors a judge demonstrating a long-term, tireless commitment to improving, and promoting fairness and access to, the courts, especially for low-and moderate-income Californians.

2019 Aranda Award Recipient Judge Carol S. Brosnahan is celebrating her 40th year on the Alameda County bench, where she operates the county’s behavioral health court and is held in the highest regard by her peers, colleagues, and former classmates, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sent a congratulatory note to Brosnahan this past April. She has been referred to as a “grass-roots” judge, who renders fair rulings with integrity, and without bias based upon socio-economic status or any other non-relevant factors.

“Judge Carol Brosnahan exudes all of the phenomenal qualities we look for when selecting Aranda Award recipients. She is an inspiration, and her commitment to public service, particularly in the area of mental health, demonstrates her integrity and passion,” says Ona Alston Dosunmu, CLA’s CEO.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year quoted Jeff Chorney, an Alameda County public defender who often represents mentally ill clients. “She seems to be driven by a real desire to make the world a better place…I think people in Alameda County might not know who she is, but a lot of people have felt the effect of what she has done.”

About California Lawyers Association:
Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is the bar association for all California attorneys. 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.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association Announces Election of New Officers and Board Members

October 15, 2019

California Lawyers Association (CLA) is proud to announce the election and appointment of new organization-wide Officers and Board Members, who will assume their responsibilities this week. The new posts were announced at the recently completed 2019 Annual Meeting“Navigating the Future for all California Attorneys,” which was held in Monterey, CA from October 10-12, 2019.

In a joint statement, CLA’s outgoing President, Heather L. Rosing, and outgoing Chairman of the Board, Jim Hill, extended congratulations to the newly-elected Officers and incoming Board Members, as well as new CLA Section Chairs, Officers, and Executive Committee Members.

“We are lucky to have such incredible leaders… While our terms are coming to an end, we are proud of what we have collectively accomplished and are excited about the future!” said Rosing and Hill.

The outgoing leaders also thanked all those who participated in the election process, including all members of the Nominations and Governance Committees, CLA CEO Ona Alston Dosunmu, the Board of Representatives, and all the candidates for office.

“While we will all miss Heather and Jim,” said CLA CEO Ona Alston Dosunmu, “they laid a strong foundation upon which our new leadership team, led by Chip [Wilkins] and Emilio [Varanini], will build. I’m very excited to work with them and our other new Officers to continue building CLA in the year ahead.”

Below is a list of New Officers and Board Members:

New Officers

President—Emilio Varanini
Vice President —Jeremy M. Evans
Chair of the Board of Representatives—Howard “Chip” Wilkins
Vice Chair of the Board of Representatives—Betty Williams
Secretary—Sara Rief
Treasurer—Ryan Baron

New Board Members

Tom Greene (Litigation)
Maria Sager (Workers’ Compensation)
Uzzi Raanan (Business Law)
Sabrina Green (Solo and Small Firm)

Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is the bar association for all California attorneys. 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.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

2019 “Vanguard Awards” Winners Announced By Intellectual Property Law Section Of The California Lawyers Association

September 18, 2019

The Intellectual Property Law Section of the California Lawyers Association (“IP Law Section”) congratulates the winners of the 2019 Vanguard Awards: Hon. Michael Fitzgerald, U.S. District Court Judge, Central District of California; Catherine Lacavera, Vice President, Legal, Google; Francoise Gilbert, CEO, DataMinding; and Anthony Reese, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law. The 2019 Vanguard Awards will be held on Friday, November 15, 2019, 6:00 p.m. during the 44th Annual IP Institute, “IP Without Borders” conference, November 14-16 at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

The Vanguard Awards, held each year during the IP Law Section’s annual IP Institute, honors outstanding legal professionals in the judiciary, private and in-house practice, academia, and the public sector for their significant contributions to the advancement of intellectual property law.

Michael Fitzgerald was nominated to the federal bench in 2011 by then-president Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2012. His intellectual property law cases include the well-known 2018 copyright infringement case against Taylor Swift. Judge Fitzgerald was the first openly LGBT person to be appointed to the federal bench in California. 

Catherine Lacavera is Vice President, Legal at Google LLC. She manages a team of approximately 300 attorneys and technical advisors and oversees a global litigation docket that has included more than 1000 intellectual property matters with cases involving Viacom, YouTube, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.

Françoise Gilbert has extensive, in-depth experience with data privacy and security issues, the Internet, eBusiness, and information technology law. She is a prolific speaker throughout the United States and internationally on privacy, security, risk management, outsourcing, information technology, and eBusiness law.

Anthony Reese specializes in copyright, trademark, and internet aspects of intellectual property law. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford Law School and at NYU School of Law, and has taught copyright law in several international programs. Professor Reese has published numerous articles and casebooks on copyright law and digital copyright matters, with a focus on the complexity and nuances of copyright doctrine.

About the IP Institute
The IP Institute is the IP Law Section’s flagship annual event. The 2019 multi-day conference includes cutting-edge panels on patent litigation before the European Patent Office and the USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board; the California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU’s GDPR; enforcing IP rights in China; pharmaceutical trade secrets; food and IP; big data patents and AI; blockchain; and lootboxes. Information about the IP Institute can be found here.

About the CLA Intellectual Property Law Section
The IP Law Section of the California Lawyers Association (formerly under the State Bar of California) was organized in 1976. With nearly 7,000 members, the IP Law Section is one of the largest intellectual property organizations in the world. For more information on the IP Law Section, click here.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association Announces Its 2019 Awards Recipients

September 16, 2019

California Lawyers Association (“CLA”) is proud to announce its 2019 CLA Awards recipients – attorneys, judges, and programs that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to promoting justice, diversity, high ethical standards, and excellence in the legal profession. Many of the award recipients work with vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, low-income farm workers, and those in non-English speaking communities. Recipients will be honored in an awards ceremony as part of CLA’s 2019 Annual Meeting, held October 10-12 in Monterey, CA, and throughout the year. CLA’s Awards committee is chaired by Renee Stackhouse and Adrieannette Ciccone.

“I am very excited for the California Lawyers Association to be celebrating the legal profession,” said CLA Executive Director Ona Alston Dosumnu. “The extraordinary individuals being honored by CLA represent the very best of the legal community and we at CLA are thrilled to recognize them for their achievements.”

2019 CLA Awards Recipients

Excellence in Civics Engagement Award
California attorney who has championed the advancement of civics programs, campaigns, projects or efforts that promote the understanding of civics and the 3rd branch of government.

  • Ruthe Catolico Ashley, Esq. – Executive Director, Emeritus, California LAW

Excellence in Diversity Award 
Outstanding efforts made by a law firm, bar association, and organization to promote diversity in the legal profession, in their organization or among their peers.

  • Bar Association – John M. Langston Bar Association of Los Angeles
  • Law Firm – Buchalter, APC
  • Organization – California LAW

Legislator of the Year
Member of the California State Assembly or Senate who has championed the advancement of the legal profession.

  • Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson 
  • Assemblymember David Chiu 

Loren Miller Legal Services Award
An attorney who has demonstrated long-term commitment to legal services and who has personally engaged in significant work extending legal services to the poor.

  • Linda Kilb – Director, Legal Services Trust Fund Program, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Harry B. Sondheim Professional Responsibility Award
Outstanding long-term contribution to the advancement of attorney professional standards in California.

  • Richard Zitrin – Zitrin Law Office

Bernard E. Witkin Medal
Attorneys and non-attorneys who have made significant contributions to the quality of justice and legal scholarship in California.

  • James J. Brosnahan – Senior Counsel, Morrison Foerster
  • Herma Hill Kay – Dean, UC Berkeley

Excellence in Civics Engagement Judicial Award (In partnership with the California Judges Association)

  • Honorable Barbara A. Kronlund – Superior Court Judge, State of California, San Joaquin County Superior Court

About California Lawyers Association:
Established in 2018, CLA is the bar association for all California attorneys. 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.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association 2019 Litigation and Appellate Summits to Address Effectiveness in the Courtroom, General Counsel Guidance

September 5, 2019

California Lawyers Association’s 2019 Litigation and Appellate Summits, the special one-day event featuring an array of programs designed to provide resources, insights, and educational opportunities, will feature a keynote address and discussion with California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, among other renowned speakers. It will be held on Friday, September 20, 2019 at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.

Attendees will receive valuable guidance from general counsel regarding outside counsel, and hear from a panel of federal and state judges on how to be more effective in the courtroom. Expert panels will provide updates on new developments as Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame members demonstrate key trial skills. In addition to sharing ideas and networking, attendees will be able to fulfill MCLE hours while switching between the appellate and litigation tracks. Participants in the Litigation track will earn 8.25 hours of MCLE, including 1 hour of Legal Ethics, while participants in the Appellate track will earn 6.25 hours of MCLE, including 6.25 hours of Legal Specialization in Appellate Law.

Keynote speaker Justice Leondra Kruger of the California Supreme Court will share her views on the challenges facing California courts and the lawyers who serve them. Attendees can expect to hear thoughtful commentary on cutting edge legal issues, important perspectives on effective advocacy, and the story of Justice Kruger’s personal journey to the high court. The summits will conclude with this year’s Appellate Lawyer Hall of Fame induction.

CLA is grateful for the generous support of its Sponsors:

Diamond Sponsor

  • Horvitz & Levy LLP

Gold Sponsor

  • Varner & Brandt LLP

Silver Sponsors

  • ADR Services, Inc.
  • Akin Gump
  • American Arbitration Association
  • Arrowhead Evaluation Services Inc.
  • Commerical Surety Bond Agency
  • Counsel Press
  • Duane Morris
  • JAMS
  • Lawyers’ Mutual
  • Polsinelli

Luncheon Sponsor

  • California Appellate Law Group

Reception Sponsor

  • HansonBridgett

About the Litigation Section: The CLA Litigation Section is dedicated to promoting excellence in all areas affecting dispute resolution, including the protection of the rights of all litigants, pre-trial discovery, the expeditious trial of lawsuits, alternative dispute resolution, effective judicial administration, uniform rules of court, and the protection and preservation of the independence of a judiciary of high quality.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association (CLA) Intellectual Property Section Announces New Cannabis IP Interest Group

August 14, 2019

California Lawyers Association (“CLA”)’s Intellectual Property Law Section (“IP Section”) is pleased to announce the formation of a new interest group within the IP Section that will focus on intellectual property issues in the cannabis industry. The Cannabis Intellectual Property Law Interest Group (“Cannabis IP IG”) will provide education and networking opportunities to IP Section members in all intellectual property areas, including patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights, with a focus on the cannabis industry.

In particular, the Cannabis IP IG is designed to encourage a timely exchange of legal information in this rapidly evolving area of law, and to provide a centralized forum and resource for all California lawyers, judges, law students, and paralegals interested in obtaining useful and up-to-date information about intellectual property legal issues in the cannabis industry. The Cannabis IP IG will also provide those practicing, and those interested in practicing, in this area of the law with an opportunity to network with likeminded colleagues. 

David Branfman of Branfman Mayfield Bustarde Reichenthal LLP in Solana Beach and Elizabeth J. Rest of Crown, LLP in San Francisco have been named Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the IP Section’s Cannabis IP IG. 

The Cannabis IP IG plans to offer monthly telephone call-in meetings on the first Thursday of each month for all interested lawyers, judges, paralegals, and law students, as well as live seminars and webinars on a host of challenging intellectual property law issues continually confronting cannabis businesses, entrepreneurs, and their lawyers, together with a variety of networking opportunities.

CLA’s IP Section is proud to continue its tradition of leading the way in the dissemination of information and the exploration of cutting edge legal issues in California – and the world. For more information and to join the new Cannabis IP IG, please contact Chair Dave Branfman at and/or Vice-Chair Elizabeth J. Rest at

The CLA Intellectual Property Law Section (formerly under the State Bar of California) was organized in 1976. With nearly 7,000 members, the Section is one of the largest intellectual property organizations in the world.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association (CLA) Annual Meeting to Deliver Connection, Industry Insights, and Innovative Business Solutions

August 7, 2019

California Lawyers Association (CLA) will host its Annual Meeting, “Navigating the Future for all California Attorneys,” on October 10-12, 2019 in scenic Monterey, California. The three-day conference is 2019’s premier gathering for all attorneys in California, providing unique opportunities for professional connection and discourse on pressing topics. Attendees will fulfill MCLE requirements, build networks, learn about current trends affecting the legal profession, and interact with distinguished scholars and jurists. Last year, over 600 legal professionals attended CLA’s Annual Meeting.

CLA’s conference assembles attorneys, academics and judges from all over California. It offers outstanding CLE programming, networking, keynote luncheons, awards, receptions, and exhibits. One networking reception will take place at the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, while others will welcome attendees, honor awardees, and highlight the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA). The Annual Meeting will provide 74 MCLE-credited programs taught by a faculty of more than 150 legal scholars and jurists. Attendees can earn up to 16.75 hours of MCLE credit, including legal specialization credit.

2019’s Annual Meeting will open with CLA’s inaugural Bar Leaders Conference, a gathering of leaders from bar associations across California. CLA’s Spotlight on the Supreme Court luncheon will feature a conversation with the California Supreme Court’s longest-serving and newest Justices, Justice Ming Chin and Justice Joshua Groban. The famed Morrison Lecture, a highlight of the State Bar’s Annual Meeting for over 85 years, will also be presented. This year’s Morrison Lecturer is Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the most frequently cited legal scholars in the nation. The Annual Meeting will also include a special joint swearing-in ceremony with the leadership of the California Judges Association and presided over by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye.

Attending one of the most vital and influential gatherings in the State of California ensures connections with fellow legal professionals and unparalleled educational opportunities. The pre-registration deadline is September 12, 2019. For more information and to register, visit the CLA Annual Meeting site here.

Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is the bar association for all California attorneys. 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.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association Introduces New Branding and 2019 Membership Promotion

August 6, 2019

California Lawyers Association (CLA), the Bar Association for all California attorneys, announced today the launch of a new brand identity, logos, and website. The striking graphic redesign aligns with CLA’s mission of promoting excellence, diversity, and inclusion in the legal profession, as well as fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. CLA is celebrating its new brand launch with a membership promotion allowing new members to join for only $40.

The bold graphic elements work effortlessly across digital and physical channels, portraying a consistent message to CLA’s 100,000+ members. The new, responsive website highlights the value that CLA provides, from advocacy and education to news and networking. In addition, CLA’s 16 individual sections and the California Young Lawyers Association each provide additional practice area-specific resources and member benefits including journals, webinars, and conferences.

From its strategically located headquarters in Sacramento, CLA is a strong advocate and dynamic voice for its members. CLA was established when SB 36 separated the long-standing Sections of the State Bar of California to create a new professional association. With over 100,000 members, it is the nation’s largest statewide voluntary bar association, dedicated to supporting the growth and continued success of its members.

“In our first 18 months of existence, we have worked very hard to demonstrate our value to our members. Involvement in CLA provides California attorneys with truly unique opportunities that cannot be found elsewhere – extremely sophisticated MCLE, award-winning conferences, and networking events, as well as many service-oriented opportunities,” says CLA’s Inaugural President Heather Rosing. “We are also extremely pleased to be the voice for all California attorneys, through our advocacy efforts.”

“Serving California lawyers at every stage of their professional lives is our primary purpose. Our members are our lifeblood. We are extremely proud of the new imagery and messaging accompanying our growth. To celebrate, we are offering a limited time membership promotion,” adds Ona Alston Dosunmu, Executive Director.

Visit California Lawyers Association online for more information on the benefits of membership and how CLA empowers California lawyers to thrive.

Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is the Bar Association for all California attorneys. 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.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association Solo & Small Firm Summit: The 21ˢᵗ Century Law Firm

June 3, 2019

California Lawyers Association’s (CLA) Solo & Small Firm Summit aims to address the needs, from business management and technology to substantive law practice updates, of solo and small firm practitioners. The three-day summit will take place in California from Thursday, June 13 through Saturday, June 15, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach.

The summit covers important issues for employers to stay compliant with California’s unique and complex rules and regulations regarding environmental and employment laws. Attendees will also learn how to attract new clients by putting together realistic and targeted marketing plans through sessions such as “What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About Social Media” and “Small Law Firm Marketing: Discipline and Persistence for Success.”

Highlights include the rare opportunity for a conversation with California Supreme Court Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan during the Friday lunch program as well as a discussion between Appellate Court Associate Justice Eileen Moore, Associate Justice David A. Thompson, and Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson on the topic of preserving adequate record for appeal.

Solo & Small Firm Summit is expected to attract solo and small firm practitioners from all over California. Networking opportunities for attendees to connect with and learn from each other include breakfast and lunch programs, plenary sessions, a wine and cheese reception, and the Solo & Small Firm Section’s annual reception and presentation of their 2019 “Excellence in Practice” and 2019 “Excellence in Service” Awards.

For more information or register for the event, please visit

CLA is grateful for the generous support of its Solo & Small Firm Summit Sponsors:

Gold Sponsors

  • Solo & Small Firm Section of California Lawyers Association (CLA)
  • CEB
  • Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company
  • McGowanPRO

Silver Sponsors

  • Elkins Employment Law
  • Mercer

Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is the bar association for all California attorneys. 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.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

California Lawyers Association (CLA) Intellectual Property Section Conference To Address Critical Internet, E-Commerce and IP Legal Issues

May 28, 2019

“IP and the Internet,” a full-day conference focusing on cutting edge legal issues concerning the Internet, e-commerce and intellectual property will take place on Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center in Los Angeles.

Presented by the Intellectual Property Law Section of California Lawyers Association (CLA), “IP and the Internet” will address evolving Internet-related legal issues such as California’s new Consumer Privacy Act, the federal copyright Music Modernization Act, the European Union (EU)’s new Copyright Directive, and rapidly evolving legal issues affecting e-commerce. The conference provides 5.75 hours of MCLE credit.

Keynote Speaker Mike Masnick, Founder of TechDirt and CEO of Floor 64, will discuss the new EU Copyright Directive and its effect on the “open Internet” concept. Mr. Masnick will also discuss the controversial “Article 13,” mandating online platforms to filter copyrighted material from their websites.

Other panels include Prof. Tyler Ochoa of Santa Clara Law School, George Borkowski of Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass, and Brad Prendergast of SoundExchange on Music Modernization Act, and Kevin DeBre and Luis Wharton of Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and Tavio Hobson of Truf discussing the lifecycle of mobile apps. Panelists will host lunch “table topics” on GDPR, California’s bot disclosure law, cannabis and the Internet, “lootboxes” and the continuing viability of Privacy Shield.

“The Internet is a critical medium for commerce today. California businesses, and professionals advising them, are faced with complex legal issues at state, federal and international levels,” said Emily Yu, Conference Chair. “This conference will provide crucial, up-to-the-minute information on pressing legal issues affecting the Internet and e-commerce.”

“IP and the Internet” is expected to attract business executives, in-house, private practice, government and nonprofit attorneys, law school professors, and law students. The conference will include networking opportunities during breaks and at a reception following the program. More information and online registration are available at

About the Intellectual Property Law Section: The CLA Intellectual Property Law Section (formerly under the State Bar of California) was organized in 1976. With nearly 7,000 members, the Section is one of the largest intellectual property organizations in the world.

The full press release can also be viewed here.

Daily Journal Covers Access to Justice Seed Funding

The July 22, 2019 print edition of the Daily Journal covered the decision of California lawmakers to provide funding to help the California Commission on Access to Justice split from the State Bar. The new legislation mandates that the first $150,000 in revenue from the State Bar’s affinity insurance products in 2020 and 2021 will go to the commission.

CLA President, Heather Rosing provided the following quote for the article:

“The people on the access commission are some of the top leaders in the quest to ensure access to justice for all Californians, so it is critical the access commission have some initial funding. Without funding, they will not be able to continue on with this really important work.”

CLA Picks Up Five ABA House of Delegates Seats

February 6, 2019 — The American Bar Association (ABA), after a vote at its midyear meeting in Las Vegas, has granted California Lawyers Association (CLA) five seats in ABA’s House of Delegates, to be implemented as soon as August of this year. With support from the State Bar of California, the state will soon be represented in the ABA by six delegates from the State Bar and five delegates from CLA. 

“CLA is excited to work with both the State Bar and the ABA to promote excellence, diversity, and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. The work of the ABA House of Delegates and that of CLA intersect very nicely,” says CLA President Heather Rosing.

Following CLA’s split from the State Bar, the sharing of delegates will help better represent the interests of all California lawyers in the ABA and in its policies. State Bar Executive Director and Board of Trustees Chair Jason Lee drafted a letter in support of CLA’s involvement.

The letter states “such a split of the state-wide delegation recognizes that both the State Bar and California Lawyers Association should be represented in the American Bar Association House of Delegates to ensure full and fair representation of the interests of California attorneys on the range of issues that span both organizations.”

This month, CLA moved into its new Sacramento headquarters and bolstered staff to augment its advocacy with the Legislature. During CLA’s first Annual Meeting late last year, ABA president Bob Carlson lauded CLA’s efforts.

“We have had a long history of working with the State Bar, and now we look forward to turning the page and starting a long history of working with the California Lawyers Association,” he said. “What we need is a strong national voice in collaboration and cooperation with strong state and local voices,” he added.

CLA intends to actively and responsibly utilize its delegate seats. CLA members are public and private attorneys, in-house counsel, judges, governmental officials, law professors and law students, and other legal professionals who help to promote excellence and diversity in the legal profession and the administration of justice.


Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is a nonprofit, voluntary organization, and the new home of the Sections of the State Bar of California and the California Young Lawyers Association. 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. For more information, visit

Contact: Tej Baath, 916-284-2000,

2018 News Releases

Help the Survivors of the California’s Camp Fire (Butte County) Woolsey Fire (LA and Ventura Counties) and the Hill Fire (Venture County)

Sign up to volunteer:

Attorneys will be needed to help staff information hotlines and provide direct legal services through various California legal services programs and area law schools. Attorneys may also be needed to help supervise law students who can provide service. There are several places to sign up to assist with these efforts. This listing will be refreshed as more opportunities become available: State Bar of California Registry.

Pepperdine Law School currently has set up a clinic and they are in need of volunteers now to assist.



Butte County 1-800-345-9491 
Los Angeles County 1-800-870-0732
Ventura County 1-877-301-4448

The State Bar of California has set up a resource page.

Morrison and Foerster LLP has created comprehensive guides to help victims in disasters. 

Disaster Legal Aid Collaborative of Northern California (formerly the Bay Area Resilience Collaborative) has training videos and resources available to train attorney volunteers. Information is currently housed on the Alameda County Bar website.

Disaster Legal Aid also has a significant number of resources, including resources for advocates, and sample forms

The National Employment Law Project has updated materials to assist those who were not able to attend work in light of fires.

United Policyholders also has made available disaster resources as it relates to insurance issues

Free Access to Fastcase is also available to attorneys or volunteers in need. Click here to register for a  free trial . Or email for additional support.

If you would prefer to make a financial donation to support legal services programs, please consider donating here:

Legal Talk Network Speaks with California Lawyers Association at 2018 Annual Meeting in San Diego

October 24, 2018 – At our Annual Meeting in San Diego, CLA leaders and members spoke with the Legal Talk Network on a variety of topics. Legal Talk Network’s On the Road series, which covers conferences and other legal industry events and meetings, features these conversations online as podcasts.

In one podcast, CLA President Heather Rosing, Acting Executive Director Pam Wilson, Chair Jim Hill, Vice Chair Chip Wilkins, and Vice President Emilio Varanini discussed CLA leadership and the future of the organization after its split from the State Bar. Congressman Brian Baird, who delivered the Annual Meeting’s Morrison Address, also spoke with Legal Talk Network about distinguishing facts from opinion in today’s political climate. In another podcast, CYLA Past Chair Lauren Powe talks about the benefits of joining the California Young Lawyer’s Association.

Other selected podcasts include Jim Lambe and Janet Hong on the jury selection process; Suma Peesapati, Jennifer Novak, and Jon Rohrer on enforcement issues in environmental law; Nell Wertlieb on changes to the California Rules of Professional Conduct; Shirin Forootan and Tamara Freeze on avoiding employment lawsuits; Erin Gerstenzang and Megan Zavieh on social media for lawyers; Michael Iseri on cybersecurity for law firms; Larry Wayte and Juanita Brooks on cross examining experts; Robert Klein, Sabrina Green, Steven Mayer, Philip Shapiro, and Sarah Redpath on the Solo and Small Firm Section; and Cynthia Elkins on classifying independent contractors.

Click here to access all of the podcasts from the Annual Meeting. 

California Lawyers Association Business Law Section to Co-Sponsor California Consumer Privacy Act Panel with Santa Clara University

October 22, 2018 – Sacramento, California – The Business Law Section of California Lawyers Association (CLA), together with the Santa Clara University School of Law, the Santa Clara Privacy Certificate Program, and the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), will co-sponsor a panel on the California Consumer Privacy Act at Santa Clara University on November 1, 2018. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 will widely impact businesses and individuals alike, prompting changes in privacy policies, contracts, and data handling practices at both statewide and national levels. The panel will conduct an important discussion on the new law and its potential impacts.

Panelists will feature California Consumer Privacy Association Chair Alastair Mactaggart, whose ballot initiative led to the passage of the 2018 law, as well as Lindsey Tonsager, West Coast lead for Covington & Burling LLP privacy and cybersecurity practice, and Professor Lydia F. de la Torre, co-director of the Santa Clara Law Privacy Certificate Program. Joshua de Larios-Heiman, Co-Chair of CLA’s Business Law Section’s Internet and Privacy Law Committee, will moderate the panel.

“We at CLA are honored to be co-sponsoring a panel of thought leaders to promote better understanding of the California Consumer Privacy Act,” said Joshua de Larios-Heiman. “CLA is mandated to educate California attorneys on important legal developments, and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 is one of the most important legal developments in recent history. CLA is fulfilling its mandate by co-sponsoring events such as this one. I look forward to moderating the panel and helping to extract practical insight from the esteemed panelists,” added de Larios-Heiman.

Lydia de la Torre, who teaches comparative data protection law at Santa Clara Law School, says, “Santa Clara University is committed to educating the next generation of data protection and privacy professionals and, for that purpose, we adopted in 2014 a rigorous first-in-the-nation Privacy Law Certificate program that requires students to complete rigorous academic, experiential, and publication requirements. I have been researching State data laws for over a year and, in my judgement, the California Consumer Privacy Act 2018 is the most important development in the field and is likely to be the model that other States and the Federal government will follow to enact future privacy and data protection laws. This event will be a great opportunity to explore its requirements and help uncover paths to compliance.”

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 grants California residents the right to access their personal information; know which categories of personal information about them are being collected and shared; request deletion of personal information; and opt-out of data “sells.”

More information and registration details can be found here.


Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is a nonprofit, voluntary organization, and the new home of the Sections of the State Bar of California and the California Young Lawyers Association. 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. For more information, visit

Contact: Josh de Larios-Heiman,, 415.519.0696

California Lawyers Association Partners with Fastcase

Members Gain Free Access to Leading Legal Research Library

October 17, 2018 – Sacramento, CA and Washington, DC – California Lawyers Association(CLA) and Fastcase today announced a partnership that will provide free access to Fastcase’s nationwide legal research system for all members of the nation’s largest statewide voluntary bar association.

Beginning early 2019, CLA members will receive access to one of the largest law libraries in the world. This member benefit will be included as a complimentary resource for all members of at least one paid  CLA Section (formerly Sections of the State Bar of California).

CLA’s leadership team has evaluated potential partners to provide benefits for its members and determined that a partnership with Fastcase, with its leading research libraries, analytics, sorting tools, and visualization options, is the best option for offering legal research to its members.

“At CLA, one of our primary goals is to provide a wide variety of resources to attorneys in California, to allow their practices to thrive and their clients to receive the highest quality legal services,” said Heather Rosing, CLA’s first President. “We are proud of what we have accomplished during our inaugural year in terms of benefits for the legal community. Coming in year two, we are excited to announce our new partnership with Fastcase that will allow our members free access to online legal research and more.”

CLA members will receive access to the nation’s most comprehensive legal research services for free – a service that would otherwise cost lawyers and law firms thousands of dollars each year. The research benefit includes unlimited research, printing, webinar training, and reference support; it is not restricted by time or number of transactions. The service also includes unlimited, industry-leading mobile apps, and live customer support from reference attorneys on the Fastcase team.

The subscription is a comprehensive nationwide law library available online anytime, anywhere. Members will be able to access Fastcase through the CLA website at where they will be able to log in with their bar username and password beginning early 2019.

The new member benefit provides access to Fastcase’s extensive legal library of caselaw from all state and federal courts, statutes and regulations from all 50 states and the federal government. The service also includes Fastcase’s industry-leading advanced technology to make legal research smarter and easier, including its mobile apps, patented Interactive Timeline to visualize search results, “Forecite” to suggest cases you missed, and Bad Law Bot, the first big data service to identify negative citations to judicial opinions.

Legal researchers can extend their capabilities in Fastcase with the opportunity to access value-added products, which include the published materials of Full Court Press, data analytics and docket updates with Docket Alarm, and artificial intelligence tools in the AI Sandbox, as well as access to secondary law materials through Wolters Kluwer, Aspen, and CCH.

Thirty-one state bar associations and dozens of metro, county, and specialty bar associations offer Fastcase’s smarter legal research tools as a free benefit to members. Many of the largest law firms in America subscribe to Fastcase, as well as the majority of American law schools and leading corporate counsel. Through these partnerships, Fastcase is made available free to more than 900,000 lawyers, nearly three-quarters of all lawyers in America.

“We started Fastcase to democratize the law, to make it more accessible to more people,” said Fastcase President Phil Rosenthal. “This partnership is significant because it increases access to justice for members and their clients. We couldn’t be more proud to do this work in partnership with the California Lawyers Association. We applaud the leadership team for their diligence and commitment to bringing innovative offerings and resources that meet the needs of their members. ”


Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is a nonprofit, voluntary organization, and the new home of the Sections of the State Bar of California and the California Young Lawyers Association. 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. For more information, visit


As the smarter alternative for legal research, Fastcase democratizes the law, making it more accessible to more people. Using patented software that combines the best of legal research with the best of Web search, Fastcase helps busy users sift through the clutter, ranking the best cases first and enabling the re-sorting of results to find answers fast. Founded in 1999, Fastcase has more than 900,000 subscribers from around the world. Fastcase is an American company based in Washington, D.C. For more information, follow Fastcase on Twitter at @Fastcase, or visit

California Lawyers Association Names Ona Alston Dosunmu Its New Executive Director

October 16, 2018 – Sacramento, California – California Lawyers Association (CLA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ona Alston Dosunmu as its new Executive Director, effective January 2, 2019. Dosunmu is currently the Vice President and General Counsel of The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She succeeds acting Executive Director Pam Wilson, who has led the organization since its inception in January 2018. 

Dosunmu will leave Brookings after serving as a key member of its senior executive team for 16 years. Recently she also served as corporate secretary  and Chair of the Inclusion & Diversity Committee. She also contributed to the Institution’s international expansion and helped establish its first Office of the General Counsel. Prior to joining Brookings, Dosunmu worked as an associate at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P.; Latham & Watkins; and Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn, P.L.L.C. Dosunmu received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and earned her B.A. in journalism and M.A. in sociology from Howard University.

“CLA has come very far since the January 1, 2018 rollout as the largest voluntary statewide Bar Association in the country, and we are delighted to welcome Ona Dosunmu as our new Executive Director,” says Heather Rosing, CLA’s inaugural President. “Ona’s deep experience, collaborative style, and familiarity with the issues facing the profession of law will be invaluable to the continued growth of CLA,” Rosing adds.

“I’m thrilled to serve the lawyers, board and other extraordinary volunteers in advancing CLA’s goals and mission. I look forwarding to leading and building a top-flight staff, engaging with our diverse and dedicated legal community and meeting many members in the coming weeks,” Dosunmu said.

Roland Brandel, co-Chair of the Executive Director Search team and one of the longest-serving leaders of the (formerly State Bar) Sections, added, “For several months, our Board-appointed team conducted a nationwide, inclusive, intense search for the best available candidates. The Board set high standards for the unique opportunities CLA presents. Many applied. In Ona, the Board selected a superlative, proven leader.”

 “We are thrilled to have Ona lead THE Bar Association for ALL California Lawyers,” said Jim Hill, inaugural Chair of CLA’s Board of Representatives. “The skills she brings with her from the Brookings Institution are going to be invaluable to us as we grow our own membership and expand our member benefits, much of which has already started under the leadership of our interim executive director, Pam Wilson, and scores of volunteers and other staff.” 

In addition to her professional and academic credentials, Dosunmu has significant experience serving on nonprofit boards—most recently as a director of the Children’s Law Center, as well as a member of Corporate Counsel’s Institute Advisory Board and Corporate Pro Bono Advisory Board.

Dosunmu’s appointment comes at a critical juncture for CLA, which continues to expand and will soon relocate its headquarters to Sacramento effective January 1, 2019.


Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association (CLA) is a nonprofit, voluntary organization, and the new home of the Sections of the State Bar of California and the California Young Lawyers Association. 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. For more information, visit

Contact: Tej Baath, 916-284-2000,

Daily Journal Covers CLA Annual Meeting, Award Ceremony For Retired Justice Kathryn Werdegar

Lyle Moran’s article “Pioneering Justice Kathryn Werdegar awarded Witkin Medal by California Lawyers Association” was published in the Daily Journal on September 18, 2018. California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye presented the Witkin Medal at CLA’s Annual Meeting in San Diego on Saturday, September 15. Cantil-Sakauye said the award, which recognizes someone who made an extraordinary impact on “justice and legal scholarship in our state,” is “tailor-made” for Werdegar.

Werdegar has been a pioneer for women in the legal field, serving on the Supreme Court for 23 years before retiring last year. During her tenure, she wrote crucial opinions in criminal, environmental, and labor law “with a clarity that is unmatched.” She was also the third woman and the first mother to serve on California’s Supreme Court. Werdegar told the Daily Journal that receiving the award is “something she will always cherish.” After the ceremony, she offered encouragement to women lawyers in the audience, saying “you can have it all if you maintain some connection, some determination and have faith in the future.”

Daily Journal Covers CLA Annual Meeting, ABA President Bob Carlson’s Support of CLA

Lyle Moran’s article “ABA president offers support for California Lawyers Association at first convention” was published in the Daily Journal on September 17, 2018. American Bar Association President Bob Carlson addressed CLA’s Annual Meeting attendees on Friday, September 14. “What we need is a strong national voice in collaboration and cooperation with strong state and local voices,” Carlson told the DJ about his commitment to working with CLA.

Carlson expressed enthusiasm about working with CLA to address issues such as lack of diversity in the legal profession and defending the independence of the judiciary. CLA President Heather Rosing told the DJ that CLA is “well-positioned” to discuss and raise awareness for these issues “without the strictures of a government agency” — a unique role explored through the Annual Meeting.

Nicole H. Gordon Named 2018-2019 Executive Committee Chair Of The Environmental Law Section

Nicole H. Gordon, partner at Sohagi Law Group, is the Executive Committee Chair of CLA’s Environmental Law Section for 2018-2019. This is her 5th year on the Section’s Executive Committee, and her 13th year in the Section. Her practice focuses on advising public agencies on complex land use and environmental matters, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Planning & Zoning, and the Endangered Species Act. She frequently lectures on these matters in courses, conferences, and workshops sponsored by UCLA, the American Planning Association (APA), and the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP).

Gordon says that being a part of the Environmental Law Section “keeps you at the cutting edge in what’s going on in environmental law,” and allows you to interact “with the top attorneys in the state who deal with the issues most relevant to our firm’s clients and the state as a whole.” The Section will hold its 27th Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, from October 18-21.

California Lawyers Association Announces 2018 Award Recipients

Sacramento, CA – September 6, 2018 – California Lawyers Association (CLA) is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of four prestigious annual awards, historically given out by the State Bar of California. Going forward, these notable awards will be presented annually by CLA. The State Bar transferred these awards to CLA earlier this year after it transitioned its Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) to CLA pursuant to Senate Bill (SB) 36. The awards will be presented at CLA’s Annual Meetingon September 14-15, 2018 in San Diego.

Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar (Ret.) will receive the 2018 Bernard Witkin Award, named for the renowned legal scholar and bestowed upon individuals who have helped shape the legal landscape through an extraordinary body of work. Justice Werdegar, who recently retired from the bench after having served for 23 years on the California Supreme Court, has authored more than 500 majority, concurring and dissenting opinions that have helped define the contours of California law. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye will present the award at CLA’s Signature Luncheon on September 15.

Attorney Stephen Ronfeldt will receive the 2018 Loren Miller Legal Services Award, named after the African American lawyer, judge, and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. This lifetime achievement award is given to a lawyer who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to extending legal services to the poor. Mr. Ronfeldt was selected for his half-century of unwavering dedication to serving poor and under-represented populations. CLA President Heather Rosing will present this award on September 14.

Attorney Panida Pzonca will receive the 2018 Jack Berman Award of Achievement, named for a young attorney who performed outstanding service to both the public and the profession before he tragically died in a San Francisco shooting. This award is conferred by CLA’s California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) and recognizes a new or young lawyer for distinguished service to the public, the judiciary, or the legal profession. Ms. Pzonca was selected for her remarkable efforts toward eradicating slavery and human trafficking, particularly in the Thai community. CYLA Chair Lauren Powe will present this award on September 14.

Law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (AALRR) will receive the 2018 Law Firm/Legal Employer Diversity Award, which is bestowed upon law firms or legal employers for outstanding efforts in promoting diversity in the legal profession. Since its formation in 1977, AALRR has made diversity a consistent priority, with a goal of creating a culture of inclusivity that can be measured directly in numbers. Diana BectonChair of the State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness , will present this award on September 14.

CLA is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit, voluntary organizations for lawyers and expects more than 500 legal professionals at its Annual Meeting.

Contact: Heather Linn Rosing 
California Lawyers Association
619-239-8131 x2229 

Ellen Miller-Sharp, CEO and Executive Director of San Diego County Bar Association, to Join California Lawyers Association as Director of Bar Collaborations and Special Projects

Sacramento, CA – August 28, 2018 – California Lawyers Association (CLA) today announced the addition of Ellen Miller-Sharp as the organization’s new Director of Bar Collaborations and Special Projects.

Miller-Sharp currently serves as Executive Director and CEO of the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA). Before her 11-year tenure at SDCBA, Miller-Sharp worked at the American Bar Association and the State Bar of California, gaining valuable insight and experience in the effective administration of bar associations.

“CLA is so fortunate to welcome Ellen to its executive team,” said CLA President Heather Rosing. “She recently earned the National Association of Bar Executives’ 2018 President’s Award of Excellence. Ellen simply knows how to get things done, and we couldn’t be more fortunate to have her skills, talents and connections joining CLA.”

In her new role, Miller-Sharp will be forging connections between CLA and other bar associations across California with the express goal of developing joint opportunities for educational programming, networking events, and more. Miller-Sharp will also help promote CLA’s commitments to diversity, fairness, and civic engagement, utilizing her experience from similar projects with the San Diego County Bar Association.

“I am excited to build on the historic work and numerous accomplishments of the Sections,” added Miller-Sharp. “The CLA leadership is working hard to give a voice to all lawyers in California, and I am excited to be a part of the drive to establish CLA as the nation’s preeminent bar association.”

Miller-Sharp will begin her new role with CLA in November 2018, while helping the San Diego County Bar Association transition to a new CEO.


CLA is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit, voluntary organizations for lawyers. It is the new home of the Sections of the State Bar of California, as well the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA). CLA’s mission is to promote excellence and diversity in the legal profession and the administration of justice.

Contact: Heather Linn Rosing 
California Lawyers Association  
619-239-8131 x2229

California Lawyers Association Begins ‘Shaping the Future for All California Lawyers’ with First Annual Meeting on September 14-15, 2018

Sacramento, CA – August 9, 2018– California Lawyers Association (CLA) is hosting its Annual Meeting, Shaping the Future for All California Lawyers, from September 14-15, 2018 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. CLA is the nation’s largest statewide voluntary association for lawyers and the home of the State Bar of California’s former Sections. The State Bar “spun off” its Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) earlier this year pursuant to Senate Bill (SB) 36, which required the change. CLA was formed as an independent, non-profit organization and, on January 1, 2018, the State Bar transferred all Section and CYLA memberships to CLA. All Section and CYLA members are now CLA members.

With the State Bar no longer hosting its popular annual multi-day gathering of California attorneys and judges, CLA has crafted its Annual Meeting using the same successful model. The CLA conference will include outstanding CLE programming, networking, an interactive session with CLA leadership, two keynote luncheons, awards, receptions, exhibits, and more. The Annual Meeting will provide 48 MCLE-credited programs, taught by a faculty of more than 100 legal scholars and jurists, as well as collaborative events hosted in conjunction with the Conference of California Bar Associations, California Women Lawyers, and other organizations. Attendees can earn up to 12 hours of MCLE credit, including legal specialization credit.

The keynote luncheons will feature a conversation with Justice Kathryn Werdegar, as well as the renowned Morrison Lecture, which was a highlight of the State Bar’s Annual Meeting for more than 85 years. Morrison Lecturers have included Harvard Dean Roscoe Pound, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, Ambassador George F. Kennan, U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, and U.S. Senator Frank Church. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye will be conducting the swearing in ceremony for the new leaders of both CLA and the California Judges Association.

CLA expects more than 500 legal professionals to attend this newly-constituted annual convention for California attorneys—launching what it believes will become one of the most vital and influential gatherings for all legal professionals in the State.

The pre-registration deadline is August 22, 2018. For more information and to register,visit the CLA Annual Meeting site here.

Heather Linn Rosing
California Lawyers Association
619-239-8131 x2229

California State Bar Sections Form New Nonprofit Organization

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 19, 2018 – The California Lawyers Association (CLA) has now officially launched, shifting oversight of the 16 Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) from the State Bar of California to a voluntary organization, as required by legislation passed in 2017. With nearly 100,000 members, the CLA is the nation’s second-largest professional association for attorneys, smaller only than the American Bar Association. Its first President Heather L. Rosing, first Vice-President Emilio Varanini, Board of Directors and officers began the work of the organization’s inaugural year this week.

“With the launch of CLA, we are on an exciting path toward advancing the legal profession in California,” said Rosing, the first President of the organization. “From day one, we offer a wealth of benefits to practicing California lawyers, and we anticipate adding many, many more. Our goal is to become an indispensable legal resource for the legal community and a tireless advocate for our lawyers and our courts.”

CLA will continue to build on the mission of the Sections, providing educational and networking opportunities, including in-person events, webinars, and publications, for members of the 16 Sections—Antitrust, Business Law, Criminal Law, Environmental Law, Trust and Estates, Family Law, Intellectual Property, International, Labor & Employment, Law Practice Management, Litigation, Public Law, Real Property, Solo and Small Firms, Taxation, and Workers’ Comp—and CYLA. Having been freed from the limitations inherent in being part of a regulatory agency of the State of California, the CLA’s ability to serve and advocate for lawyers, to foster and strengthen ties between lawyers from all practice areas and within and among all segments of society and government is unlimited.

The CLA’s just-launched website, www.calawyers.orgallows CLA members immediate access to all Section materials as well as a link to join the CLA if you are not already a Section member.

Last year, the State Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 36, which allowed for the incorporation of the Sections and CYLA into a private, 501(c)(6) organization. The unanimous vote by the Legislature followed input from the State Bar and Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 36 into law in October, initiating the transition from the government agency. The State Bar will continue to operate as a regulatory entity, overseeing California attorney admission, licensing, and discipline.

“The California Lawyers Association is an exciting new chapter for our Section and CLA members generally. The new organization allows us to be more responsive to member needs, to provide a broader range of cost-effective products and services, and to conduct focused advocacy to help ensure our members’ professional success,” said Matthew J. Spark, Chair of the Intellectual Property Law Section. “We look forward to providing an enhanced level of service and community to the membership.”

“Scores of our Section volunteers have worked incredibly hard this past year along with leaders and volunteers of the other Sections to emerge as an integral component of the CLA, soon to be known within and outside our state borders as the bar association for all California lawyers,” said Jim Hill, Chair of the new CLA Board. “We will continue to make excellence our standard. We will become only stronger as part of the CLA.”

Under the new organization, each of the 16 Sections and CYLA has elected one delegate to the CLA Board, ensuring equal representation. State Bar staff and the Council of State Bar Sections—the leadership body through which all Sections previously interacted—oversaw the transition to the nonprofit organization from 2017 to 2018. Membership in the Sections is automatically transferred to CLA and will remain intact and renewable, as long as members pay annual dues to the State Bar and Section membership fees to the CLA (through the State Bar).

For more information on the mission of the California Lawyers Association or how to join, please visit

About California Lawyers Association:

California Lawyers Association (CLA), a nonprofit, Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(6) organization, is committed to promoting excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. CLA comprises the Sections and California Young Lawyers Association, and represents the vast diversity of California’s legal community and the various areas of law practiced throughout the state. For more information, visit

News for CLA Members

Do Atty Hopefuls With Criminal Records Get A Fair Shake?, Law360, July 21, 2019

2021 CLA Media Mentions

Thriving In Their 40’s: Demetria L. Graves, Los Angeles Business Journal, December 21, 2022
Making Peace in Mediation – A Conversation with Daniel Spector, JDSupra, October 4, 2021
Sonoma County prosecutor Laura Passaglia appointed court commissioner, The Press Democrat, September 30, 2021
Tips from the Bar: Jeremy Evans, BLAWG 401, July 1, 2021
Keller selected to prestigious Chambers USA and Chambers Global rankings of business lawyers, PR Newswire, June 2, 2021
Gary Thelander is recognized by Continental Who’s Who, PR Newswire, March 31, 2021
Klinedinst PC Names Heather L. Rosing CEO, Announces New Leadership Promotions, Klinedinst PC, February 1, 2021
Jennifer L. Keller Ranked #1 by Super Lawyers 2nd Year in a Row, PR Newswire, January 21, 2021

2020 CLA Media Mentions
2019 CLA Media Mentions
2018 CLA Media Mentions

CLA’s Advocacy Efforts Featured in Daily Journal

CLA’s Advocacy Efforts Featured in Daily Journal Lyle Moran’s article, “New state lawyers group marks a year of legislative influence,”  [Daily Journal on December 27, 2018], highlighted the role CLA has and will play in advocating for the legal profession.  CLA’s opposition to an attempt to tax legal services, which failed to become law, is just one example of CLA’s successful advocacy in representing its 100,000 members before the Legislature.  CLA’s advocacy efforts will increase in 2019, “We are looking to increase our stature as a resource to the Legislature,” Association president Heather L. Rosing said.  The creation of CLA through the separation from the State Bar gives the organization greater latitude in its efforts to represent its members.  “We are writing on a broader canvas so to speak,” Director of Government Affairs Saul Bercovitch noted.

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