It’s within our reach
Last January, in my first Advocate column as CAALA President, I wrote that it was “hard to believe it’s already been five years since I ran for the CAALA Secretary position and now I’ m beginning my term as your President.” Well, it’s even harder to believe that as I write this column I have completed half of my term as CAALA’s President. It sure has gone fast.
When I was installed as President I made it clear that, in my view, Education, Membership and Civility are the most important areas of focus for our organization and I laid out specific goals for CAALA in all three areas.
As for Education, my goal was for CAALA to continue to evolve in providing top-notch programs for our members, including free programs that you can’t get anywhere else. We’ve been doing that with new in-person seminars and online webinars attracting record attendance. Some, like Bob Simon’s successful Spinal Injuries Seminar, were both in person and streaming online. We also brought in Rick Friedman who taught a one-of-a-kind, 3-hour session for CAALA members at no charge. Looking forward, we have CAALA Vegas coming up next month, and in the fall, the first ever Women Trial Lawyer Skills conference for CAALA members only.
With respect to Civility, I believe it’s important that trial lawyers understand that we can zealously advocate for justice on behalf of our clients and still be civil in the process. In order to further our goal to enhance civility, CAALA partnered with the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel (ASCDC) and LA-ABOTA to present a wonderful Joint Litigation Conference titled Promoting Civility & Ethics in the Courtroom. Nearly 250 people attended, including more than 30 L.A. County Superior Court judges.
Moreover, at the Court’s request, CAALA, ASCDC and LA-ABOTA have worked together to implement a PI Mandatory Settlement Conference pilot program to help ease the trial backlog in the Courts. The program is only possible with the volunteer efforts of members from all three organizations. The program is getting positive responses from everyone involved, especially the L.A. Superior Court judges. CAALA and defense bar members have told me they enjoy getting to know and working together with their counterparts.
And that brings me to Membership. My CAALA Membership goals are simple: 3,000/4,000. What do those numbers mean? They mean my goal is for CAALA to finish the year with 3,000 attorney members and 4,000 total members. We can never overemphasize the importance of growing our membership. The stronger our membership numbers are, the more effective we can be. And believe me, we will need to be both strong and effective given the political battles affecting all of our practices that lie ahead.
To put these goals in perspective, five years ago when I was first elected to the Executive Committee, CAALA had about 2,300 members. Today, we have more than 2,800 attorney members and over 3,700 total members. So the goal of 3,000/4,000 is within our reach. Even though many legal bar associations are going through challenging times, CAALA’s membership continues to grow. And it’s not by accident. CAALA has some great Membership programs and resources. Let me tell you about five of them that are important reasons why Membership is growing.
CAALA’s New Lawyers Program celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Each month new lawyers fill the CAALA Conference Center to hear trial and practice tips and strategies specifically for them.
For seven years, CAALA’s Women in Law program has invited women members to take part in women-only roundtable discussions about the challenges faced by female legal professionals.
CAALA’s six dedicated List Serves now have more than 2,200 subscribers, giving you direct access to the CAALA community. These robust List Serves help all members in many different aspects of their practices.
CAALA’s online document bank now has 2,900 easily accessible documents available for attorney and legal staff members; covering 18 areas of law including personal injury, employment, insurance bad faith and police misconduct, just to name a few. These documents include motions and transcripts that can help all of us in our practice.
Our Mentorship program has grown from about 200 participants to more than 500, between mentors and mentees. It’s a valuable resource for one-on-one-support from other CAALA members.
I am working with Membership Co-Chairs Tobin Ellis and David Hoffman and Membership Director Liz Hagan to reach our 3,000/4,000 goals. But, we can’t do it alone. We need your help.
If associates or legal staff in your own firm are not CAALA members, tell them about the amazing benefits of membership and have them sign up. They can learn more at CAALA’s website, www.caala.org.
Six months ago, when I outlined my goals as President, I said that it was time for me to give back to CAALA in a more meaningful way. Now, I ask for you to do the same. We need to reach within CAALA to achieve our Membership goals of 3,000/4,000.
These are difficult times for trial lawyers and we have no choice but to rely on one another, not just for friendship, but for strength and survival.
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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