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California Lawyers Association Showcases Itself at First Annual Meeting

California Lawyers Association

The enthusiasm generated by the launch of the California Lawyers Association was on full display at the group’s first convention-style meeting in San Diego Sept. 14-15. Around 600 lawyers attended the event featuring a broad array of continuing education programming, keynote speakers, awards ceremonies and networking opportunities. A joint-swearing in ceremony for the boards of the California Lawyers Association, known as CLA, and the California Judges Association was also part of the festivities at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.

The CLA was created in response to the legislatively mandated separation of the State Bar of California’s 16 specialty law sections and the California Young Lawyers Association. When CLA kicked off operations at the start of 2018 to house those groups, it began with roughly 100,000 members, becoming one of the largest bar associations in the country. CLA leaders told Legal Talk Network they were thrilled to have a chance to build a new bar from the ground up and delighted with how things have gone in year one. We at CLA are very excited because for the first time we now have a true statewide bar association, as opposed to our sections being part of what is essentially a regulatory agency,” CLA President Heather Rosing said during an “On the Road” podcast. “We can transcend what we did at the State Bar [and] do a whole heck of a lot more as the largest statewide voluntary bar association in the country,” added Rosing, a former State Bar vice president.  

CLA’s key initiatives include efforts to diversify the legal profession, promote access to justice and support California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye’s civic learning work. Emilio Varanini, CLA’s vice president, said collaboration will be key to the group’s success in those areas. “The way we are trying to serve these goals is through active partnerships where we can add value,” he told Legal Talk Network.

The California Young Lawyers Association, known as CYLA, also is an integral part of CLA. California attorneys in their first eight years of practice are automatically considered members of the group, which accounts for half of the 100,000 CLA members. Lauren Powe, the immediate past chair of the young lawyers’ group, told Legal Talk Network that CYLA offers education programs for young attorneys, including in the webinar format. It also provides e-news updates on topics of interest. A legal trivia contest was one highlight of a young lawyers’ reception held at the annual meeting, but the gathering in San Diego featured plenty of time for serious reflection as well.

Former U.S. Representative Brian Baird, who served six terms in Congress representing Washington as a Democrat, delivered the Morrison Lecture during a lunch event the first day. His timely topic: “Can constitutional democratic republics exist without facts and reason?” Baird told Legal Talk Network he made sure to include a call to action for the lawyers in attendance. “Attorneys have a right and responsibility in a democratic republic to stand up for the essential importance of fact and reason,” he said during an “On the Road” podcast.”

To learn more about the CLA annual meeting and CLA itself, check out the podcasts listed below that were recorded by Legal Talk Network at the inaugural event.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Hear from the Leaders of the Bar

CLA leaders Heather Rosing, Jim Hill, Emilio Varanini, Pam Wilson and Chip Wilkins discuss the new association’s first year and their goals for the future with host Laurence Colletti. They also highlight some other big events in the works, such as an access to justice summit.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Believing in Facts with Congressman Brian Baird

Former U.S. Representative Brian Baird discusses with host Laurence Colletti the Morrison Lecture he gave at CLA’s annual meeting. Baird, who represented Washington state as a Democrat, discusses Americans’ ability to distinguish facts from opinions and the effect this is having on our democracy.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: The California Young Lawyers Association

If you’re a budding lawyer in California and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Lauren Powe, the immediate past chair of the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA), shares with host Laurence Colletti what the group has to offer attorneys in their first eight years of practice.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Independent Contractors and the Perils of Misclassification

Why should you hire an independent contractor to work for your company? Employment attorney Cynthia Elkins discusses the difference between them and regular employees. She also chats about California’s adoption of an ABC Test in this realm.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Solo and Small Firm Section

Five members of the executive committee from CLA’s Solo & Small Firm Section discuss what their section has to offer. Robert Klein, Sabrina Green, Steven Mayer, Philip Shapiro, and Sarah Redparth also discuss the section’s planned summit next year.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Cross Examining Experts

What are the tips and tricks trial lawyers use against their opponents? Fish & Richardson’s Juanita Brooks and McCormick Barstow’s Larry Wayte discuss with host Norman Rodich how to be successful at trial, including the best ways to examine an expert witness.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Securing Your Law Firm the Right Way

Is your law firm and your client’s data secure enough? Michael Iseri, founder of LAWPP, speaks with host Laurence Colletti about what steps law firms can take to do a better job in this area.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Lawyers who Tweet

Attorneys Erin Gerstenzang and Megan Zavieh discuss how lawyers can use Twitter and other forms of social media the right way. They also chat about how social media ethics for lawyers can be complicated, but definitely worth knowing.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Ways to Avoid Employment Lawsuits

Employment attorneys Shirin Forootan and Tamara Freeze share with host Phil Horowitz the top things companies should do in order to head off employment lawsuits. Their advice includes not taking away unemployment benefits, heavily documenting the behavior of problem employees and properly handling requests for accommodation, among other steps.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: California Rules of Professional Conduct Update

How will the changes to the California Rules of Professional Conduct impact you? Neil Wertlieb, an experienced transactional lawyer, discusses with host Jim Ham the biggest rules revisions, who will be impacted the most and the potential concerns that some already have.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Environmental Law Section

Hosts Chip Wilkins and Eric Adair talk to Suma Peesapati, Jennifer Novak, and Jon Rohrer about the CLA’s Environmental Law Section and enforcement issues that non-environmental lawyers should keep on their radar. They discuss how those unfamiliar with the laws and regulations can respond to actions brought against them and what to do when you see others not complying.

CLA Annual Meeting 2018: Selecting the Right Jurors

Criminal defense attorneys Jim Lambe and Janet Hong discuss with host Sara Rief what makes jury selection a crucial part of the trial process and how attorneys can efficiently handle the different aspects of voir dire. They speak about the tools they use, how to deal with the jury’s preconceptions and helpful hints on peremptory challenges.

List of Interview Participants (in alphabetical order):

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Lyle Moran is a freelance writer based in San Diego. He specializes in legal reporting, but also has experience covering state and local government agencies. Lyle most recently reported for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, where he covered law schools and the State Bar of California. Prior to that, he worked for the San Diego Daily Transcript. His work has consistently garnered awards from journalism organizations.