Recognizing the past, looking to the future and learning to rely on one another
The CAALA Gala, our annual Installation and Awards Dinner, is Saturday, January 14 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, you can do so at the CAALA website: www.caala.org.
The Gala is a great celebration, but it’s also an event with a split personality. Part of the program looks back and part of it looks ahead.
The Awards part of the program recognizes accomplishments of attorneys and jurists for 2016, including Trial Lawyer of the Year Maryann Gallagher, Rising Star Award winner Alyssa Schabloski and Trial Judge of the Year Carolyn Kuhl.
Dave Ring will look back and review his year as CAALA’s 2016 President.
But part of the program also looks ahead. 2017 President Ricardo Echeverria will be installed along with officers Mike Arias (President-Elect), Shawn McCann (First Vice President), Jeff Rudman (Second Vice President), Genie Harrison (Treasurer) and Doug Silverstein (Secretary). L.A. Superior Court Presiding Judge Daniel Buckley will also install the 2017 Board of Governors.
President Echeverria will talk about his goals for 2017, setting the tone for the new year. And for CAALA, that tone is decidedly upbeat.
All of CAALA’s benchmark metrics are positive. Our membership numbers are strong in all categories. Our finances are stable and on budget. Support from our affiliates and sponsors exceeds last year. Perhaps most important, participation in the events and programs we present is outstanding. This is true from our small-format roundtables to the record-setting CAALA Vegas.
In 2017 we will continue to deliver on our vision statement which is “Empowering Plaintiff Attorneys to Achieve Justice.” We will do that by providing members with even more outstanding programs, events and resources at no charge. No other trial lawyer association provides such valuable benefits cost-free to its members.
Education Chair Christa Ramey and Vice Chair Liz Hernandez have worked closely with Deputy Director Cindy Cantu and the Education Committee to develop an outstanding 2017 Education Program Schedule.
The schedule includes six in-person seminars and five live CAALA-produced webinars. New topics include a seminar on Spinal Injuries and a Joint Litigation Summit in conjunction with the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel (ASCDC). At President Ricardo Echeverria’s suggestion, there will also be a seminar offering Trial Skills for Women Trial Lawyers. The Webinar schedule also includes a three-part Employment series.
CAALA will also continue the six-week Plaintiff Trial Academy, which has become one of our most important Education programs for newer members.
Our signature event, CAALA Vegas 2017 will present 20 education sessions. The 2017 Convention co-chairs are David deRubertis, Daniel Pierson, Laura Sedrish, Mauro Fiore, Louanne Masry and Rahul Ravipudi.
CAALA will also continue presenting four highly popular education programs for Legal Staff members. Under the leadership of Doug Silverstein and Laura Sedrish, the Legal Staff Programs exceeded all expectations in 2016 with more than 100 paralegals and legal staff professionals attending each session. There are now more than 400 Legal Staff professionals in CAALA, twice as many as in 2015.
CAALA will bring members together by hosting member mixers throughout the year. These mixers have also become increasingly popular, giving members the opportunity to meet face-to-face.
Membership Co-Chairs Tobin Ellis and David Hoffman have worked with Membership Manager Liz Hagan to develop a new Case Collaboration program that will be presented in addition to the Practice Series program that focuses on business issues facing attorneys.
New Lawyers Committee Chair Alyssa Schabloski and Vice Chair James West have developed a schedule of ten programs that kicks off with a presentation from Ricardo Echeverria on January 24.
Women in Law Co-Chairs Amy Solomon and Ibiere Seck will lead three Women in Law Roundtables in 2017.
CAALA’s member resources in 2017 include six List Serves, the on-line Document Bank and the Mentor Program. All are important resources and benefits of membership.
Tim Loranger will serve as 2017 List Serve Chair with Vice Chair Fran Campbell. More than 2,100 CAALA members participate on the List Serves.
Relying on one another
OK, I wasn’t going to talk about politics in this column, but I know that the mood for a lot of our members got much worse on November 8. It’s an understatement to say that many CAALA members aren’t happy about the Presidential Inauguration that takes place a week after the CAALA Gala. Let’s admit it, many are still in shock or in mourning. But when it comes to CAALA, there’s every reason to feel good.
A large part of our success is because of the programs, events and resources we offer, but there’s something else that unites our members.
In the November 28 issue of The Nation, D.D. Guttenplan wrote a few words in a column that could have been written about CAALA. They explain why our association is so strong and so important to our members, especially considering what happened on Election Day.
Guttenplan wrote, “If we can’t rely on the president, or the Congress, or the courts, we have no choice but to rely on one another. Not just for comfort, but for strength — and survival.” Beginning with the CAALA Gala, in 2017 CAALA will continue to be an organization where members can gather to rely on one another.
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