Baby Boomers Unite!

The Birth and Maturation of the Senior Lawyer Section

In 2018, CCCBA President James Wu contemplated the initiatives for the CCCBA for the year. He thought of serving the many “experienced” members of the Bar and created the “Senior Lawyers Task Force” to look at topics and issues affecting those attorneys. The Task Force was led by Board Member Renee Livingston and included former presidents Peter Mankin, Dick Frankel and Mike Brown, and past Board Members, Joscelyn Jones Torru (now a judge) and Richard Alexander. CCCBA Executive Director Theresa Hurley helped guide the group.

The Task Force first met in January 2018 and soon discovered that 35% of CCCBA attorney members had been practicing for more than 30 years, 11% for more than 40 years and 20 members more than 50(!) years. Those numbers were likely to increase as Baby Boomers continued to age. The group discussed how the Bar might best assist those members and how those attorneys might use their vast experience to contribute to the Bar as a whole.

In order to understand the needs and abilities of these members, a Senior Lawyer Roundtable was convened in May 2018. A spirited discussion revealed much interest with topics such as Transitioning Out of Practice and Succession Planning, Maintaining a Sense of Purpose, Creating a Sense of Community, Mentoring and Giving Back, and Volunteering/Pro Bono activities. Interest also developed in the possible formation of a Senior Lawyer Section.

The Task Force moved forward by organizing a program at the MCLE Spectacular in November titled “Transition Is A Many Splendored Thing!” The program had two components.

The first covered “Comprehensive Wellness,” including health and mental abilities and issues arising with aging, presented by Dr. Rebecca Parish and Brett Beaver, therapist. The second component was “What Does Transition Look Like?” Roger Brothers covered succession planning for lawyers, and Peter Mankin and Mark Frisbie discussed views, issues and strategies on transitioning a law practice partially or fully from both a large firm and small firm/solo perspective. The program was said to be the most highly attended breakout session of the day.

Encouraged by the enthusiastic response, the Task Force decided that an official section of the Bar would be warranted. In January 2019, after several meetings and a happy hour event, the Senior Lawyer Section was formed, thereby completing the mission of the Task Force. Lorraine Walsh stepped up as the fearless leader, with Deborah Sandler, David Ratner and Peter Mankin forming the initial section board. Aided by free dues, the section had over 400 members in 2019. In 2020, even after dues were charged, the section has more than 160 members, the fourth largest in the Bar.

Quite a few activities were planned for 2019. It was decided that our Bar should have a Law Day event like many bar associations have throughout the country. Former Judge and current Contra Costa District Attorney, Diana Becton, spoke to a well-attended luncheon at Scott’s in May. In November, the section sponsored a private wine tasting at Buon Vino in Walnut Creek.

Once again, a very successful program was sponsored at the 25th Anniversary MCLE Spectacular. This one was titled, “Leaving Your Law Practice and Keeping Your Sanity – How to Create a Successful Transition Plan.” Lee Pearce gave an excellent presentation on the ethical and practical issues of “Getting Out of the Practice.” Lorraine Walsh spoke eloquently about issues involved with a successful transition plan. Clinical Psychologist, Peter Opperman, instructed on navigating the many psychological issues surrounding aging and retirement.

In early 2020, the momentum continued with the planning of a second annual Law Day Luncheon, this time with Candace Andersen, Chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, leading the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment/Women’s Right to Vote. Then, life took a strange turn for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic. The luncheon had to be canceled. However, the Section and Supervisor Andersen hosted a Zoom gathering/webinar on June 17 to cover the Right to Vote celebration, issues in this crucial election year, and an update on the County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our county, along with the other Bay Area counties, was one of the national leaders in formulating timely and intelligent protocols in controlling the outbreak and “flattening the curve.”

While times ahead are uncertain, the section board will be planning events for later in the year. It is hoped that some of the events can be “live,” as social get-togethers have been an important part of the section agenda. If those are not possible this summer or fall, we will plan some virtual events. Watch for future announcements.

A Senior Lawyers Section would be remiss not to honor some of our “super” senior lawyers. Listed here are the names of those CCCBA members with 50+ years in practice.  Imagine the collective wisdom of this group! Hats off to all of them.

Finally, the section would love to have some “new blood” for leadership positions. Whatever the age or condition of your blood, if you would like to help us contribute to the well being and enjoyment of our senior members, please contact Section Chair, Lorraine Walsh, at [email protected]

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