Ask what you can do for CAALA
On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered one of the most memorable quotes in history during his inaugural address when he stated: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” In many ways, that same ideal applies to membership in CAALA.
CAALA’s vision statement is “Empowering Plaintiff Attorneys to Achieve Justice” which it routinely delivers upon with a tremendous lineup of programs and events year after year. And this year is no exception. In 2017, CAALA will present five members-only webinars, six in-person seminars, 10 New Lawyer roundtables, 18 sessions of the Plaintiff Trial Academy and an unprecedented no-charge, members-only Rick Friedman seminar, just to name a few.
In addition, CAALA will be co-hosting a Joint Litigation Summit with ASCDC and ABOTA, which will be a great event that will involve the judiciary and promote civility. This year will also mark the first “Trial Skills for Women Trial Lawyers” seminar, a two-day members-only event that will be an invaluable benefit to CAALA’s female trial attorneys. And the best part is that nearly all of these programs are free to CAALA members.
If the foregoing weren’t enough, we also have the annual CAALA Las Vegas Convention to look forward to, an event which has grown to become the largest and most successful TLA convention in the country, with more than 3,000 attendees. The Vegas convention brings together more than 100 vendors and 2,200 lawyers from all over the state and the country. I can tell you that the CAALA staff and the Education Committee are tirelessly working on plans for the 2017 Vegas Convention to surpass the high standards we have established for the event.
But the benefits of CAALA membership don’t end with these programs and events. CAALA provides invaluable resources including six robust List Serves, an active New Lawyers Group, a dynamic Women in Law Group and a document bank that contains over 2,500 documents, including pleadings, trial transcripts, briefs, articles and papers that cover just about every aspect of our members’ practice areas. CAALA membership also gives us access to special rates for services and products from more than 200 affiliate partners. Finally, CAALA enables us to better network with each other by hosting five membership mixers throughout the year.
Like many of you, I have reaped the benefits of all that CAALA has to offer which has served me well in my career. But my experience with CAALA became so much more enriched fifteen years ago when I decided to get more involved and give back to CAALA by first serving on the Board of Governors and then the Executive Committee. It’s a great feeling to work together with other fellow CAALA members and the staff to help plan and organize the various programs and events that CAALA offers. But the best part is that I have forged lifelong friendships along the way. I have found that the more effort that I put into serving CAALA, the more that I have gotten out of it as a member.
And so, borrowing from the words of President Kennedy, I say to you: “Ask not what CAALA can do for you – ask what you can do for CAALA.” And I’m not talking about monetary contributions. The following are some ways that each of you can give back to CAALA to make us even stronger:
- Attend a Board of Governors meeting. The meetings are open to all members and the meeting dates are posted on the CAALA web site, www.caala.org.
- Get a new lawyer to join the organization. Our current attorney membership is just over 2,700 and our goal for the year is to get over 3,000. The more members we attract, the stronger we become.
- Contribute documents or transcripts to the CAALA document bank. When you settle a case or finish a trial, make it your practice to go through your file and donate helpful briefs or transcripts.
- Volunteer time by serving as a CAALA Mentor or Ambassador.
- Attend a meeting with local legislators to educate them about our issues.
- Get involved with the Education committee to contribute ideas for new and improved programs.
- Volunteer for a Membership phone bank.
- Encourage your staff to join CAALA as legal staff members.
- If you are in practice 10 years or less, attend the monthly meetings of the New Lawyers Group.
- If you are a woman attorney, participate in the Women In Law Group and join their dedicated List Serve.
- Write an article for the Advocate magazine.
These are just a few ways you can get more involved and give back to CAALA. If each of us does just one thing to give back to CAALA in a meaningful way, it will make CAALA exponentially stronger. And in doing so, not only will CAALA benefit, but so will you.
Ricardo Echeverria is a trial attorney with Shernoff Bidart Echeverria LLP, where he handles both insurance bad-faith and catastrophic personal-injury cases. He is currently the incoming President of CAALA and was named the 2010 CAALA Trial Lawyer of the Year, the 2011 Jennifer Brooks Lawyer of the Year by the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association, and a 2012 Outstanding Trial Lawyer by the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. He was also a finalist for the CAOC Consumer Attorney of the Year Award in both 2007 and 2009, and is also a member of ABOTA and the American College of Trial Lawyers.
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