Commitment from passionate and dedicated staff and members
One of my favorite attributes of CAALA is that it is an organization run by extremely passionate and dedicated people, from the staff to the volunteers that serve as its Officers, Board of Governors, and Committee Chairs. The reason CAALA is the best attorney association in the country, and is able to accomplish so much, is the time put in by devoted people who care deeply about the organization and its members. In addition to its annual Las Vegas Convention, and the more than 100 events and programs it offers each year, CAALA takes great efforts to enhance and protect the careers of its members by providing quality education, resources, networking opportunities, forums for New Lawyers practicing 10 years or less, Women in Law, and Legal Support Staff, and by staying involved in political and legislative affairs that affect its members’ practices. I am inspired every day by the extremely committed people behind the scenes of these efforts.
CAALA’s staff consists of Stuart Zanville (Executive Director), Bill Smith (Director of Finance and Operations), Liz Hagan (Membership Director), Kwedi Moore (Development Director), Jordan Smith (Technology Manager), Martha Ruiz (Office Administrator), and Margie Ruiz (Membership Administrator). Each has been with the organization for over a decade, and some for multiple decades. From creating, coordinating and administering CAALA’s programming to maintaining its website, listserves, online document bank, membership databases, and relationships with vendors of services that enhance its members’ practices, CAALA’s staff pour their heart and soul into the organization. They are the glue that holds CAALA together and the reason it runs so smoothly and efficiently.
In addition to its fabulous staff, CAALA is led by a body of volunteers who, although they have busy careers and lives, choose to dedicate a significant amount of their free time to ensuring that CAALA is the very best that it can be. This begins with CAALA’s Officers, each of whom will serve in every position on CAALA’s Executive Committee before serving as the organization’s President.
This year, I have the privilege of serving as CAALA President with some of the most caring and generous attorneys I know, who I am proud to call my very good friends. CAALA’s future is bright with these fine attorneys committed to ensuring that CAALA always serves its members in the best way possible. They are Genie Harrison (President Elect), Douglas Silverstein (First Vice President), Minh Nguyen (Second Vice President), Ibiere Seck (Treasurer), and Martin Aarons (Secretary). Together, with CAALA’s three most recent Past Presidents (Shawn McCann, Mike Arias, and Ricardo Echeverria), we serve as CAALA’s Executive Committee.
In addition to its Officers, CAALA is led by a Board of Governors consisting of 25 elected members, 10 at large members, as well as dozens of Emeritus Board Members (who have served on the CAALA Board for 10 years or more), and many Past Presidents who are still very active in the association. The Board of Governors is a diverse group of people, each of whom brings a unique perspective, but who share the common goal of preserving and improving an organization that for 71 years has sought to support plaintiff’s attorneys in every aspect of their practices.
CAALA consists of various committees which are responsible for different facets of the organization. Each committee has chairs, and many are comprised of numerous committee members who together work passionately to provide the best possible experience for CAALA’s members. Those committees (in alphabetical order) and their chairs include: Diversity and Inclusion (Chair, Michelle Iarusso; Vice Chairs, Belinda Theam and Griselda Rodriguez); Education (Chair, Taylor Rayfield; Vice Chairs, Christina Coleman and Rahul Ravipudi); Law Student Outreach (Chair, Shannon Ward; Vice Chair, Sonya Ostovar); Legal Support Staff (Chair, Lupe Flores; Vice Chair, Rose Gutierrez); Legislative Affairs (Chair, Michael Cohen; Vice Chair, Lawrence Lallande); Listserve (Chair, Timothy Loranger; Vice Chair, Robert Ounjian); Membership (Chair, Daniel Pierson; Vice Chair, Lauren Horwitz); New Lawyers (Chair, Belinda Theam; Vice Chairs, Derek Tran and Sergio Puche); Plaintiff’s Trial Academy (Chair, Christa Ramey); Political Affairs (Chair, Elizabeth Hernandez; Vice Chair, Jennifer Ostertag); and Women in Law (Chair, Louanne Masry; Vice Chair, Candice Klein).
The beauty of CAALA is that any member can get involved in helping the organization thrive as those mentioned in this article have done. When I first became involved in CAALA leadership, I had been practicing for under 10 years, was an associate at a small firm, and was relatively unknown in the legal community. However, inspired by those in leadership at the time, I volunteered to serve on a committee, and attended CAALA’s Board Meetings to learn more about the inner workings of the association that positively contributed so much to my young practice. I was welcomed with open arms and given every opportunity to be involved. Looking back, the decision to volunteer my time was one of the best decisions I have ever made, as my life and practice have both been greatly enriched by the experience I have had being a part of this incredible association.
For those who would enjoy the satisfaction of contributing to an association that services over 3,100 attorneys, and positively impacts its members’ practices and therefore the lives of all of their clients, while feeling a unique comradery that is shared by those working toward a common purpose, I highly recommend it and invite you to contact me to see how you can get involved. I promise, you’ll thank me for it.
Jeffrey A. Rudman is the President of the Consumers Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and the Principal of The Rudman Law Firm, APC, a boutique Martindale-Hubbell AV rated Plaintiff’s law firm handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Jeff has served on the CAALA Board since 2008, and has served as a chair of CAALA’s Membership Committee, Las Vegas Convention, and Education Committee. He is also credited with the creation of CAALA’s Online Document Bank.
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