Echeverria honored to serve as your new CAALA President
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been five years since I ran for the CAALA Secretary position and now I’m beginning my term as your president. The time sure flew by and it’s been an honor to be on the Executive Committee under the leadership of past presidents Mike Alder, Lisa Maki, Geoff Wells, Joe Barrett and Dave Ring. I’ve learned a great deal from all of them, and it has helped prepare me for my presidency in 2017. Before outlining some of the goals that I want to accomplish this year, I thought I would give you a little background on me.
I grew up rather simply on a dairy farm in Chino, the son of two Basque immigrants who came to this country with nothing but the hope of living out the American dream. And boy did they.
The first dairy farm my father purchased in Orange County with his two older brothers in 1958, milking 123 cows, has now grown to an operation milking over 10,000 cows. It’s from my parents that I learned the value of a good work ethic, working side by side with them and my older brother seven days a week.
My parents also taught me the importance of humility, respect and civility. When I grew up, the Chino Valley dairy community was a melting pot of immigrant cultures and ethnicities. There were the Basques, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Mexicans, Swiss, and others, most of whom spoke English as a second language, and all of whom respected each others’ values and cultures. While I didn’t know it at the time, the values I learned from my childhood would serve me well in my career as a trial lawyer.
My decision to go to law school was not an easy one. I had been groomed to return home after college to start up another dairy in the family business. While my parents had other ideas for my future, they were always supportive and now travel from Bakersfield to come watch virtually every closing argument that I give. I have been blessed to have such a solid foundation of support from my entire family.
I started practicing law in 1993 as an associate with Shernoff Bidart & Darras. I had previously worked at the firm as a summer law clerk in the prior two years. It’s the only firm at which I have ever worked and it’s hard to believe that it’s now been 26 years since I first walked in the door. The firm has been my professional family from the start. Bill Shernoff and Mike Bidart mentored me and taught me everything good that I’ve learned about practicing law and trying cases.
I’ve been a CAALA member from the start of my career and the organization has been a huge part of my practice. In 2002, when Mike Fields was the incoming CAALA President, I became a member of the Board of Governors, where I have served for the last 15 years. The organization has given me more than I could ever give back. The education and professional development CAALA has provided me has been invaluable. But the friendships I have forged in the process have been priceless. In 2010, I was honored as the CAALA Trial Lawyer of the Year, a definite highlight in my career which I could never have achieved without the support from the organization. It was then that I decided it was time for me to give back to CAALA in a more meaningful way, which is when I decided to run for the Executive Committee.
In my view, the two most important areas of focus for the organization are education and membership. Just like they say in sports “always work on improving the fundamentals,” so it is with CAALA when it comes to education and membership. We will continue to evolve in providing top-notch programs for our members. This will include free member-only programs including a three-part Employment Series Webinar, an Interactive Deposition Demonstration Seminar, and Spinal Cord Injury Seminar, just to name a few (and there will be more).
Although it’s only January, plans are already in full swing for the 2017 CAALA Vegas Convention; we are looking to constantly improve on each year’s success.
Finally, I’m excited to introduce a new free program, which will be a Trial Skills Seminar for Women Trial Lawyers, which will be open only to CAALA women members. It’s through these excellent educational programs that we are able to attract new members and keep current CAALA members active.
I’m here to serve YOU!
I have the privilege of working with a great Executive Committee including Mike Arias, Shawn McCann, Jeff Rudman, Genie Harrison, Doug Silverstein, along with Past Presidents Geoff Wells, Joe Barrett and Dave Ring. We will be blessed to have the great support from the CAALA staff including Stuart Zanville, Cindy Cantu, Bill Smith, Kwedi Moore, Liz Hagan, Margie Ruiz, and Martha Ruiz. The entire staff is committed to constantly growing and improving the great member benefits CAALA provides without ever having a sense of complacency.
In closing, I’m honored, and frankly humbled, to serve as your 2017 President. I’ll do everything to the best of my ability to serve each of 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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