Bigger and Better, since 1983

Stuart Zanville
2017 August

I usually believe in the philosophy of architect Mies van der Rohe who said that “Less is More.” I like things simple. That philosophy goes out the window, however, when I talk about our association’s signature event. When it comes to CAALA Vegas, my philosophy is “Bigger is Better.”

CAALA’s first Las Vegas convention was in 1983, and the chairs Gary Paul, Tom Dempsey and Tom Stolpman told President Buddy Herzog that they weren’t sure members would attend.

“It was our first time in Vegas,” said Dempsey, “And, we weren’t sure there would be a second time.”

Well, Paul, Dempsey and Stolpman were wrong. Not only was there a second time, but when the 2017 CAALA convention begins on August 31 at the Wynn Las Vegas, it will be the 35th annual Las Vegas convention.

In 1983, the event wasn’t even called a convention. Gary Paul called it the “Las Vegas Seminar” and the theme was “Winning the Race: Organizing and Managing a Personal Injury Practice.” There were 30 presenters and eight exhibitors and the seminar lasted for a day and a half. The attendance was about 300.

The next year the attendance grew, and attendance at the convention has grown every year since, but it didn’t just get bigger – it got better. Today, CAALA Vegas is the nation’s largest and most successful convention of trial attorneys. It has earned a national reputation as the gold standard of legal conventions, and it attracts trial attorneys and legal service providers from across the country. Last year’s convention drew a record attendance of 2,200 attorneys and a total attendance of nearly 3,000 judges, legal staff, law students and legal service providers.

It’s not called a seminar any more. In fact, it’s not even called a convention. Today, it’s simply called “CAALA Vegas.” CAALA Vegas is a brand known throughout the legal world. But, don’t just take my word for it. Do an internet search for “CAALA Convention Las Vegas,” and 383,000 results will appear in one second.

This year’s convention begins on Thursday, August 31 and concludes on September 3. The location is the spectacular Wynn Las Vegas. I can’t think of a better place for a CAALA member and their family to spend Labor Day weekend.

For many years, attendees have told us that “the CAALA Convention really rocks,” and this year that’s especially true, since the CAALA Vegas theme is “Rock of Ages.” It is time to turn the spotlight on every trial lawyer who stands up for their clients against overwhelming odds, and that means the Wynn will really be “rockin’.”

Making sure CAALA Vegas is “Bigger and Better” each year is a daunting challenge, and preparing for the convention is a year-round job. CAALA’s Deputy Director Cindy Cantu is responsible for CAALA Vegas and she works closely with CAALA’s staff and the attorney volunteers who work tirelessly to improve the convention each year.

Education Chair Christa Ramey and Vice Chair Elizabeth Hernandez have assembled a great production team of Convention Co-Chairs in David deRubertis, Daniel Pierson, Laura Sedrish, Mauro Fiore and Rahul Ravipudi.

The convention features twenty education sessions presented by more than 120 of the nation’s most accomplished trial lawyers, jurists and legal experts. They will cover a wide variety of practice areas focusing on the latest developments in trial advocacy.

CAALA Vegas is more than just education, though, and this year is no exception. In addition to the serious sessions, CAALA Vegas is also about connections and fun. The two are combined in the networking cocktail parties that follow the education programs on Thursday and Saturday. Thursday’s Kickoff Party connects friends and colleagues and features live classic rock music. The Saturday Cocktail Party celebrates the legacy of Rock and Roll with an all-access pass to the Bourbon Room at the Wynn’s Intrigue Nightclub for dancing, vinyl and premium cocktails.

Many believe that the highlight of CAALA Vegas is the Masters Speakers Session that will be moderated by Christa Ramey on Saturday afternoon. This year’s session is “Rock Stars of the Civil Justice System,” and it epitomizes the CAALA Vegas “Rock of Ages” theme. A great amount of time and energy is spent selecting the presenters whose cases not only are examples of important litigation, but also went to the “top of the charts” in terms of the media coverage they generated. From cases about Uber to NFL concussions, this year’s lineup includes CAALA stalwarts as well as trial attorneys from across the country. A capacity crowd will fill the hall to listen to this stellar group share how they made a difference and changed their client’s life forever. This year’s lineup of Masters Speakers and Rock Stars of the Civil Justice System are Chris Dolan, Jeffrey Ehrlich, Maryann Gallagher, Jason Luckasevic, Danielle Mason and Mark Robinson.

Registration for CAALA Vegas is open to all attorneys, law firm staff, jurists and law student CAALA members. The registration fee includes all sessions, digital syllabus, continental breakfasts, coffee breaks, plus the Thursday and Saturday parties and Sunday breakfast session.

If you are reading this prior to the Convention and haven’t registered yet, visit or our dedicated convention web site Registration won’t sell out and is open online through Saturday, September 2. If you are already at CAALA Vegas, you’re probably taking advantage of everything that makes CAALA Vegas bigger and better. And, don’t forget the theme; it’s your opportunity to celebrate the rock stars that make up the American Justice System.

Stuart Zanville Stuart Zanville

Stuart Zanville is the Executive Director of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA). Contact him at (213) 487-1212 or by e-mail:

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