Connecting members to the Court

CAALA offers many opportunities to meet judges in a more casual, relaxed setting

Shawn McCann
2019 July

Last month, I had the privilege of moderating part of the Joint Litigation and Civility Conference that CAALA presents each year with ASCDC and LA-ABOTA. On my panel was Judge Kevin Brazile, Presiding Judge of the L.A. Superior Court. During the program, Judge Brazile’s comments were insightful and instructive, as he talked to the room filled with more than 200 attorneys. Judge Brazile also spoke to the attorneys before and after the program, in a much more casual and relaxed setting.

Other members of the LASC Court leadership were in attendance, including Assistant Presiding Judge Eric Taylor, Civil Courts Supervising Judge Samantha Jessner and Civil Assistant Supervising Judge Ruth Kwan. Several other judges were also there. I was happy to see the judges actively engage with the attorneys in the room. Obviously, there is a big difference between interacting with a judge in a courtroom and talking for a few minutes in a social setting.

Looking around the room, it reminded me just how valuable it is for CAALA members to have the opportunity to meet and speak casually with the LASC judges. For attorneys, It’s the best way to meet judges in a more relaxed setting. For judges, it’s a way to learn more about the attorneys they might see in a courtroom. For both, it’s a way to learn about the issues that affect them.

The Joint Litigation Seminar isn’t the only time that CAALA invites LASC Court leaders to connect with CAALA members. Judges play a major role in our CAALA Gala Installation and Awards Dinner, with judges honored and in attendance. Throughout the year CAALA invites judges to speak at or attend numerous events and programs.

Judge Brazile also recently spent a Thursday evening speaking to CAALA’s Board of Governors at their monthly meeting. He delivered a formal presentation about the State of the Court, but as he usually does, he made himself available before and after the meeting to talk casually with CAALA’s officers and members. Always generous with his time, Judge Brazile shared his wisdom and experience at CAALA’s Plaintiff Trial Academy and attended the closing reception.

Next month, Judge Brazile and Judge Jessner will speak not once, but twice at CAALA Vegas. Whenever they attend a CAALA event, they always make themselves available to talk with and listen to CAALA members. Last year, more than 50 sitting judges attended the convention and nearly a dozen spoke on the convention’s education panels.

In March, Judges Theresa McGonigle and Rupert Byrdsong spoke during lunch at the Trial Skills for the New Attorney program that CAALA does every year. The casual comments of judges offering trial tips to young attorneys are well received and are a highlight of the event.

It’s not the only method of communication between LASC Judges and CAALA members. This entire issue of the Advocate magazine is dedicated to the Courts, with articles written by judges.

Another way that CAALA connects members to the Court is the Central Civil Bench Bar Committee, chaired by Judge Samantha Jessner. Attorneys and judges serve on the Committee and several CAALA attorneys are members. The Committee meets monthly and is an important channel of information to and from CAALA members and the Court. The meeting minutes are distributed to all CAALA members and contain valuable information about Court changes. CAALA members of the Bench Bar Committee are Mike Arias, Jack Denove, Ricardo Echeverria, Victor George, Steve Glickman, Gretchen Nelson, Dave Ring, Amy Solomon, Geoff Wells and Jeff Westerman. I am also a member of that committee. Contact me or any of the Committee members if you have something you want us to bring up to the Court.

Building relationships between our Association and the Court isn’t new for CAALA. For as long as I’ve been a member, I’ve seen how CAALA gives members the opportunity to connect with the judges. It’s an opportunity that members should not miss.

After spending a lot of time with Judge Brazile, Judge Jessner and other L.A. trial court judges, I’ve come to realize that connecting with CAALA members isn’t a chore or an obligation for them, it’s something they enjoy doing.

Judge Brazile constantly thanks us for being a conduit between the trial bar and the judiciary in Los Angeles. He welcomes the opportunity to hear from trial lawyers who use the Court system every day. He enjoys hearing their thoughts and opinions and he and the other judges do listen.

In working toward our mission of empowering the plaintiffs’ bar to achieve justice, CAALA will continue to give our members a chance to get to know their partners on the bench.

Shawn McCann Shawn McCann

Shawn McCann is a partner at Banafsheh, Danesh & Javid. He graduated from Loyola Law School in 2003. Shawn handles a broad variety of cases regarding personal injury and product liability. He serves on the Board of Governors for Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles and Consumer Attorneys of California and was recently admitted into American Board of Trial Advocates. He currently serves as CAALA President.

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