A special look at the words and phrases that defined a year like no other

Stuart Zanville
2020 December

It’s December. Whether your calendar is on your wall or on your wrist, 2020 will be over in a matter of days. For better or for worse (I agree, mostly for worse) the year like no other is coming to an end.

As one year ends, another begins; and for 72 years CAALA’s year has begun with the annual Installation and Awards dinner. 2021 will be no different. The dinner will take place on January 23.

Like so much else in this COVID-19 world, the Installation and Awards Dinner will be different than in past years, but it will still retain the tradition that makes it one of the most anticipated events of the year.

For 72 years the dinner has given CAALA members and the entire Los Angeles legal community a chance to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of their peers. More importantly, it is the event that introduces CAALA’s new President and leadership.

For the first time, this year’s dinner will be virtual. Instead of dressing up and driving to a hotel, you will be able to enjoy it from the comfort of your home. You also don’t have to worry about the dinner selling out.

Genie Harrison will be installed as CAALA’s 2021 President and her Executive Committee is the most diverse in the history of our organization: Douglas Silverstein, Minh Nguyen, Ibiere Seck, Martin Aarons and Liz Hernandez.

The 2020 Attorney honorees are Dale Galipo (Trial Lawyer of the Year) and Sophie Etemadi (Rising Star).

CAALA also wants to salute the finalists for the two awards. The four finalists for Trial Lawyer of the Year were Chris Dolan, Joseph Low, Alan Romero, and Courtney Rowley. All are outstanding trial lawyers whose efforts help achieve justice for people who have been harmed or injured.

The four finalists for the Rising Star award are Daniel DeSantis, Jake Douglass, John Hinman and Chance Pardon. They are the future of this organization.

CAALA’s Trial Judge of the Year award will be presented to the Hon. Kevin Brazile, L.A. Superior Court’s 2020 Presiding Judge. Judge Brazile is being honored for guiding the Los Angeles Superior Court through its most challenging and turbulent year with grace, humility, and perseverance.

CAALA will also recognize one of the legal world’s truly iconic figures, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She will be honored posthumously as CAALA’s Appellate Justice of the Year.

Attending virtually might not be the same as being there in person, but it will still be a memorable event for Genie Harrison, the CAALA leaders and the annual award winners. We hope you can be with them on January 23.

Before I conclude my last column of 2020, I would like to take a moment to reflect on a year none of us predicted and all of us hope will never be repeated.

I would like to share with you some words. If you are a reader of this column, you know that I have a special interest in written communication – style and words. I also like lists.

There are certain words and phrases that were used throughout 2020 in ways that they were never used before. These are common words and phrases that existed before but took on all new meaning in 2020. I’m not sure that they describe 2020, but when you utter them, they evoke clear feelings about 2020. At least they do for me.

So here is a list of simple words and phrases we became all too familiar with during the past year. These are words that took on new meaning for us.











And, of course, the ubiquitous ZOOM. (I Zoom, you Zoom, we all Zoom.)

All of these are words or phrases whose meanings are changed forever thanks to COVID-19.

There is one more phrase that I would like to share with you. It is a phrase that was used or heard by most of us and is one that evoked very specific feelings every time. It also provides advice as we move past 2020. The phrase is: “UNMUTE YOURSELF.”

Anyone who participated in a Zoom meeting, which by now is pretty much all of us, heard that phrase. Most of us said it, had it said to us, or both. Some might think it is a negative phrase. After all, when you first heard it you thought you were being admonished for not doing Zoom the “right way.” I see it differently. 2020 was a year where we connected and communicated better than ever, even though we were not physically with each other. We were more open, honest, and direct with our feelings as we went through the challenges of COVID apart but together. I see UNMUTE YOURSELF as a positive message. Keep connecting, communicating, and sharing thoughts and ideas with your family, friends, and peers. It’s good advice, even if it comes from a peculiar type of meeting introduced to us during a most peculiar year.

My best wishes to each of you for a healthy and safe holiday as we put 2020 behind us and move forward into a new year.

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: stuart@caala.org.

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