An exciting new chapter for our organization
When I first joined CAALA, our office was in an aging high-rise in the mid-Wilshire district. The space could barely accommodate the CAALA staff. Meetings and events were held away from the office, which many of our members never visited. Even after joining the Board of Governors in 2003, I never went to the CAALA office. There wasn’t any reason to make the trip. All of our Board of Governor meetings were held at the DoubleTree in Santa Monica at the time.
In 2005, the old office lease expired and then-CAALA President-Elect Steve Glickman led a search to find new office space. Steve picked a bigger site in downtown Los Angeles, but most meetings and events were still held in other locations.
That changed in 2007 when CAALA President John Torjesen made the decision to move all meetings and the events CAALA presented to the new downtown office. The decision wasn’t unanimous; a lot of people questioned whether members would even make the trip downtown. Torjesen insisted that CAALA should have a real headquarters in the heart of downtown L.A. and he pushed hard to make it happen.
A year after moving into our current office we renovated it, adding a 1,000-square-foot conference center for meetings and events. But basically, the space has stayed the same. Well, CAALA has been in that space for 11 years, and once again, it’s time for change. And once again, this will be change for the better.
In 2007, no one could have imagined how CAALA’s office would be used. It has truly become the hub of activity for our association. This year alone, more than 90 meetings, events and programs are being held in the CAALA office.
But as our existing lease was coming to an end, the CAALA staff realized that even though the office was better than the old one on Wilshire Boulevard, we had simply outgrown it.
Some meetings overflowed the space, and the design that looked so good in 2007 was exposed as being inefficient. There wasn’t the state-of-the art technology required to put on first class programs and events. It was better than what most associations have, but far less than what a first class, cutting edge association should have. And first class, cutting edge is exactly what CAALA has become.
So, I am pleased to tell you that after 11 years in our current space, CAALA will be moving into a brand new office in a few months. Following an extensive search, CAALA’s staff and leadership identified a new location that will allow us to grow, expand and greatly improve the quality of our programs and events. While the move will come after my term ends, I’m proud of the new home that CAALA members will enjoy for the foreseeable future. It will be an exciting new chapter in our organization’s history.
The new space is the building next door to our current location. The address is 888 W. 6th Street, at the corner of Sixth and Figueroa. But instead of taking someone else’s office and making it fit our needs, we are starting from scratch. The best news is that we will now have an entire floor to ourselves.
Just a few days before writing this column, I visited the new location and saw the final stages of the demolition. We now have a blank page on which to write a new and exciting chapter in our association’s history.
The space will feature a wonderful, modern design and look and feel that sets the tone for the changes we are experiencing in CAALA. Our membership is now approaching 3,000 and we must provide for their needs and interests to keep the new members engaged.
The focal point of the space will be a state-of-the-art conference facility that is fifty-percent larger than our current space. It will be designed to be suited for small meetings as well as large ones. We’ll have a state-of-the-art audio/video system and smaller breakout rooms to give us even more flexibility.
From the time you step off the elevator directly into our new space, you will know you are in CAALA’s headquarters, not someone else’s office.
CAALA is a unique association in many ways. We counter the trend that members don’t want to meet in person. Our members are just the opposite. The participation for all our meetings, events and programs is at record levels, as is our membership.
Our CAALA headquarters for the next decade will set a new standard for excellence. In a few months, you’re personally invited to visit your new CAALA headquarters and see for yourself why we are so excited.
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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