Sports and CAALA have a strong connection

CAALA is going for its 37th consecutive Convention championship in Las Vegas. The number and diversity of attendees gets greater each year

Stuart Zanville
2019 August

Our leaders, starting with 2019 CAALA President Shawn McCann, are avid sports fans as are many members of our Board of Governors. Several, including Taylor Rayfield, Danica Crittenden and Geoff Wells, were prominent collegiate athletes.

There are also plenty of similarities between trial attorneys and top-flight athletes. Both are fiercely competitive, passionate about their craft and committed to excellence.

This column is about CAALA’s annual convention, but I’d like to make a sports analogy to describe it. So, if you aren’t a sports fan, bear with me.

On Labor Day weekend, CAALA will present our annual convention at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. It will be the 37th edition of the event, which began as a simple travel seminar in Las Vegas and has evolved into our association’s signature event.

But CAALA’s convention is much more than that; it has become one of the nation’s most respected gatherings of trial attorneys, judges and legal professionals. It now attracts attention and attendees from across the country.

If you are a sports fan, you know that becoming a champion is difficult; but even more difficult is repeating as a champion. Maintaining the highest level of success is probably the most difficult challenge in sports. The same is true in the trial lawyer association world. Being recognized as the best at something is difficult to achieve and even more difficult to sustain.

If you like the sports analogy, CAALA is going for its 37th consecutive Convention championship this year.

Sustaining that level of excellence isn’t easy, and creating a vibrant, dynamic convention with a new look and feel every year is not an easy task. Because CAALA’s membership changes every year, creating an event that appeals to that new audience poses an ongoing challenge for CAALA’s professional staff.

If you are a sports fan, you probably like statistics. Let me give you a few about our Convention.

I joined CAALA in July of 2004, and my first Convention was in August of that year. Comparing that year to this year is one way to illustrate the changes that have taken place in recent years; and the changes that will take place at this year’s convention.

Here are some statistics:

In 2004, the Convention’s registered attendance was 1,734. How does that compare to today?

The 2018 Convention had a registered attendance of 2,573. Now, we won’t know the final attendance numbers until next month, but at this point our registration is more than 200 ahead of last year.

But attendance is only one way of judging whether the Convention is successful. Another way is to look at the speakers and presenters.

In 2004, there were 58 speakers who made presentations during the three-day convention. This year, there will be 105 speakers over four days, speaking on a variety of legal topics.

In 2004, among the presenters were 15 female trial attorneys. This year there will be 52 female trial attorneys presenting. That’s something that makes all of us proud and gives you an idea of the changes taking place at CAALA.

In sports, you must bring in new faces every year to keep your team strong; and among this year’s Convention presenters are more than 30 who have never spoken before at a CAALA convention. Each has proven expertise on the topic they are speaking about.

This year’s convention will be at the Wynn Las Vegas from Thursday, August 29 through Sunday, September 1. Attendees will earn 20 hours of MCLE credit including four hours of Ethics, one hour of Elimination of Bias and one hour of Competence Issues.

The lineup of speakers and topics was developed through the hard work of CAALA’s Education Chair Elizabeth Hernandez, Co-Vice Chairs Martin Aarons and Taylor Rayfield and Convention Co-Chairs Christina Coleman, Timothy Loranger, Minh Nguyen, Robert Simon, Natalie Weatherford and Twila White.

One of the highlights of the convention is the opportunity to meet and learn from sitting bench officers. This year, 10 sitting L.A. Superior Court judges will be part of the education panels, including L.A. Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile, Assistant Presiding Judge Eric Taylor and Supervising Judge of the Civil Courts Samantha Jessner.

This year’s convention will see the return of the popular morning Yoga program hosted by Nick Rowley. Also continuing is the special Convention track for Legal Staff professionals. And, for the first time, there will be a dedicated area for New Lawyers to connect during the Convention.

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

If you haven’t registered yet, visit or our dedicated convention website Online registration is open through Saturday, August 31.

Discounted registration is available for CAALA members, members of other Consumer Trial Lawyer Associations and members of Los Angeles Minority Bar Associations.

Whether or not you are a sports fan, by attending CAALA Vegas you become part of a championship team.

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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