Recognizing the many groups of people that make CAALA what it is
Years ago, I was asked by a bright 3L candidate for an associate position at my law firm how she should go about choosing her legal path. I responded that there are many ways in which to choose a practice area and a law firm – interest, location, type of work, training, money, benefits, opportunities, etc. Each factor is important, I said, and will have different weight with each candidate. But the most important factor – and what differentiates and defines the experience at a law firm – is the people you work with. That 3L took my advice to heart, decided to accept our offer, and today is a partner in our firm and a very accomplished lawyer.
This story got me thinking that CAALA is made up of so many wonderful people that define the experience of being part of CAALA. Our people really are our greatest asset and what makes the CAALA experience the best of any bar association. I want to pause for a moment and recognize all these wonderful groups of people in the CAALA community.
CAALA’s lifeblood is its 3,000-plus attorney members (over 4,000 including the categories listed below). We are such a richly diverse group in so many aspects, such as practice area, style of practice, size of firm, new and more experienced lawyers, location throughout Southern California and beyond, ethnicity and race, religion, gender, etc. The list goes on. But we are all unified by a singular goal – to be the best lawyers we can to achieve justice for our clients. After all, CAALA’s mission is, “Empowering Attorneys Advocating for the People.” I have never seen such camaraderie and helping colleagues, celebrating their successes and lending an ear for the occasional loss.
CAALA is blessed to have so many affiliate members whose businesses provide goods or services to plaintiff trial lawyers. They genuinely want to help CAALA members succeed in their practice. Many of our affiliates have been with CAALA for decades and consistently sponsor, advertise, market and exhibit to CAALA members. The special community that CAALA has built for is members is why so many affiliates want to reach our membership. As just one example, exhibiting at CAALA Vegas sells out every year with a waiting list.
We all know what CAALA means to its attorney members. We created the Legal Staff Support Group to provide legal staff the same opportunity to learn and connect. I was privileged to conceive of and found the Legal Staff Support Group. I never could have imagined that what started as quarterly meetings in downtown Los Angeles would evolve into an entire legal staff track at CAALA Vegas. The more than 500 legal staff members is a testament to how vital this group is.
CAALA has so many amazing people that comprise its committees – Education, DEI, New Lawyers, Women in Law, Law Student Outreach, Legislative Affairs, Political Affairs, Membership, Wellness, Plaintiff Trial Academy (PTA), Finance, the list goes on! These committees are comprised of members, Board of Governors, past presidents and officers. This is where the work gets done, in committees. Committees are a great way for attorney members to become more involved in CAALA.
Board of Governors
CAALA leadership is comprised of 30 elected and 10 Governors, who all come from the attorney member ranks. These are the individuals elected by the members and appointed to lead CAALA. Those who seek to become Governors have shown a commitment to CAALA, often over a number of years. Governors who serve for 10 years become Emeritus Governors. The Board of Governors meets monthly to consider various issues confronting CAALA so that we can meet our short-, mid- and long-range strategic goals. CAALA committees are chaired by Governors. Governors are also the pool of candidates from which CAALA elects its officers. One of the things I missed most during the pandemic was going to the monthly board meetings and seeing so many longtime friends, as well as meeting new people.
Executive committee and past presidents
Every September, CAALA elects a new Secretary for the following year. (This September, it happened to be my longtime friend and law school classmate, Danny Abir.) In six years as they progress up the CAALA officer ranks, that person will serve as CAALA’s President and will remain on the Executive Committee for three additional years as a Past President. These are individuals who have committed nine years to CAALA to run the association. That level of commitment deserves our respect, which is why we acknowledge each of our Past Presidents in attendance at the monthly Board Meetings. That so many past presidents continue to stay involved – often decades after they served – speaks volumes about CAALA and the people who comprise it.
This entry is last not because it’s where they rank, but because CAALA’s staff is the glue that holds everyone together. I am so incredibly proud to work with on an almost daily basis our amazing staff. They really are the secret sauce of CAALA. Under the leadership of Executive Director Kwedi Moore, CAALA has built out its staff with four critical hires this year who will serve as the foundation of success for years to come. This is the first time in quite a while that we have the full complement of staff that an association the size and stature of CAALA needs.
Douglas N. Silverstein is an employment attorney and has won 19 of his last 20 trials, recovering punitive damages is his last 6 trials. He’s been appointed lead class counsel in dozens of wage and hour class and PAGA actions and has impacted the rights of hundreds of thousands employees. He has argued cases in the California Courts of Appeal, Second, Ninth and D.C. Federal Circuits, and has numerous published opinions, including the first California case recognizing FEHA associational discrimination. For seven years straight, Doug has been honored as one of the top employment attorneys in California by The Daily Journal. Doug is the Immediate Past Chair of the LACBA Litigation Section, where he meets regularly with federal and state court judges, and bar leaders to advance the cause of justice. Prior to becoming an attorney, Doug worked as a sommelier. He coached his kids to the California state soccer championship, until they realized they could go further without him and became hockey players.
by the author.
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