A tremendous learning experience

Ricardo Echeverria
2017 August

I’ve been a trial lawyer for nearly 25 years and over the course of my career, I’ve learned many things. Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is to “never stop learning.” I tell lawyers all the time that we always evolve and get better as trial lawyers when we continue to learn. That’s why we call it “practicing” law.

After being in practice for a long time, some trial lawyers think they know it all. That’s understandable, but I don’t agree, and neither did the great John Wooden, the iconic UCLA basketball coach. Wooden once said “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” I totally agree with Coach Wooden.

As CAALA’s President, I hear from members all the time about how much they learn by being a CAALA member. Whether it’s attending one of our highly respected MCLE programs, participating in the CAALA List Serve, or just talking to other members at a mixer or a meeting, CAALA is all about learning and sharing information and ideas.

As we all know, CAALA’s signature event is CAALA Vegas, our association’s annual convention. In just a few weeks, nearly 3,000 CAALA members, judges, legal staff, law students, attorneys and legal professionals will gather at the Wynn in Las Vegas for our 35th annual convention.

CAALA Vegas is the nation’s largest and most successful convention of trial attorneys. It’s an amazing experience which is why it has become the gold standard for any legal convention.

If you’ve attended, you know that CAALA Vegas is many things. It’s a great weekend in a great location; it features presentations from the nation’s most accomplished trial attorneys; it offers fabulous networking receptions and more than 140 exhibits from the best legal service providers. Everyone has a different reason for attending, but to me, more than anything else, CAALA Vegas is about learning and sharing.

First, you can meet nearly all your annual Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements by spending Labor Day weekend with your peers, friends and family in Las Vegas. That’s tough to top. But the learning experience is much more than just 20 hours of MCLE credit.

I attended my first CAALA Convention 20 years ago. For a young lawyer, nothing could compare to sitting there listening to amazing trial lawyers teaching me how to become one of them. That still holds true today. I’ve been fortunate to have attended nearly every CAALA Convention since that first one 20 years ago. And I can say unequivocally that I’ve learned something from every single CAALA Vegas Convention.

CAALA Vegas succeeds because it is constantly changing, growing and evolving. It succeeds because it always offers new, cutting edge learning experiences. That doesn’t happen by accident. Cindy Cantu is CAALA’s Deputy Director, and she oversees the CAALA Convention, working closely with the CAALA staff and volunteer CAALA members who make it possible. CAALA Education Chair Christa Ramey and Vice Chair Elizabeth Hernandez spend hundreds of hours throughout the year working with Cindy and the Convention Co-Chairs to make sure that the learning experience at CAALA Vegas is second to none.

This year’s Convention Co-Chairs are David deRubertis, Daniel Pierson, Laura Sedrish, Mauro Fiore, Louanne Masry and Rahul Ravipudi. They have put together an incredible program with 20 education sessions presented by over 140 of the nation’s most accomplished trial lawyers, jurists and experts covering a wide variety of practice areas and latest developments in trial advocacy.

There are new topics this year that certainly weren’t on the program when I attended my first convention. They come straight from today’s headlines and are among the most discussed legal topics by the media, the public and the trial bar.

These topics include Gender and Racial Discrimination, Equal Pay Act and Gender Pay Gap, Elimination and Prevention of LGBTQ+ Bias, Autonomous and Driverless Cars and Discovery in the Social Media Age. You can’t get more current and cutting-edge than those.

As many of you know, I have a passion for music, and especially Rock N’ Roll. So I’m excited that this year’s convention theme is “Rock of Ages.” I’m especially looking forward to the Saturday Masters Speakers Session featuring “Rock Stars of the Civil Justice System” sharing how they made a difference and changed their client’s life forever.

This year’s Convention also features a brand new group of presenters. For the first time, CAALA Vegas is offering a Legal Staff Education Track. It’s a program for legal-staff professionals taught by legal-staff professionals. We are very excited to offer that track for the legal staff that are so important to our practices.

I don’t have the space to list all the speakers who will be at CAALA Vegas this year, but you can see the complete list by going to the convention web site and clicking on the ‘Topics & Speakers’ page. Everything you need to know about the convention can be found on the web site. The web site is also the best place to register for the convention, if you haven’t done so already.

CAALA Vegas 2017 begins on Thursday, August 31 at the Wynn Las Vegas and concludes on Sunday, September 3. The first education session is at noon on Thursday. If you are a procrastinator, online registration will remain open thru Saturday, September 2.

When I attended my first Convention 20 years ago, I never imagined I’d be attending this year as CAALA’s President. I did know that I learned things that first year that I would never forget. So come Rock with us at the Wynn on Labor Day weekend and you’ll learn what I mean.

Ricardo Echeverria Ricardo Echeverria

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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