Cheers to You for a Fantastic 2019

The Contra Costa County Bar Association celebrated its 85th birthday in 2019, and we owe this longevity to all of our incredible volunteers, staff members, law students, attorneys, judicial officers, affiliate members, and sponsors.  Having a milestone birthday year is also a good year to refresh and recharge.  The CCCBA did just that with our brand new website and logo.  As described in more detail in my July 2019 President’s Message, the new website and logo are the products of hours of continual work by our dedicated staff and committee members who reviewed the copy, analyzed animation, voted on colors, fonts, shapes, and the new logo itself.  We hope you too enjoy the more modern and easy-to-navigate website and are proud of the new logo.  If you haven’t already, you may be receiving “swag” with the new logo – (hint: attendance at any of our events usually gets you these nice benefits sooner rather than later).

These past two years have also been quite eventful for our CCCBA and the Contra Costa County Superior Court.  Most recently, on October 25, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed CCCBA member Julia Campins to the Contra Costa County Superior Court!  Congratulations Julia!  Since 2018, our litigators now enjoy appearing before at least eight new judicial officers including Hon. John Devine, Hon. Virginia George, Hon. Linda Lye, Hon. Wendy McGuire Coats, Hon. Leonard Marquez, Commissioner Diana Kruze, Commissioner Christine Donovan and Commissioner Jennifer Lee.  We are fortunate to have a bench that is so diverse and willing to partner with the CCCBA.

As you may know, judicial candidates go through a very rigorous application and evaluation process.  This process is highly confidential.  The CCCBA has been lucky to have an incredibly dedicated group of volunteers who participate on our Judicial Evaluations Committee.  While their work and even their identities are kept confidential, I know they take their role seriously, perform their duties with integrity, and do so without most anyone knowing that they are volunteering their time for this important task.  Thank you to the JEC – you know who you are!

Unfortunately, our judicial officers have also been the subject of extensive ridicule and even alleged threats of violence.  In 2019, the CCCBA Board decided to speak out against these unreasonable attacks and issued its Statement condemning such behavior. Understandably, there is almost always one party to a case who is disappointed with a judicial ruling.  However, when that disappointment evolves into threats and unfounded accusations, judicial offers (who typically are prohibited from commenting) rightfully look to others, like the CCCBA, to condemn such conduct.

It was another banner year for our Sections as well.  At 85 years old, the CCCBA saw the creation of two new sections:  the Senior Section and East County Section.  Both have already hit the ground running.  For example, our Senior Section put on a successful Law Day program, and the East County Section held its first mixer.  In addition, our Women’s Section put on the first Family Fun Day this summer – and it was a huge hit!  The Women’s Section also raised $3,500 in scholarship funds and awarded three scholarships to law students.  The Estate Planning and Probate Section had its 26th Annual Estate Planning Symposium, and in addition to its ever-popular MCLE events, the Family Law Section started holding social events as well.  Several other sections also had a very active 2019, and we had incredible section participation at the 25th annual MCLE Spectacular!

Our Diversity Committee also had an incredibly busy year.  We awarded the 2nd annual Diversity Awards at our Officer Installation Lunch in January, and held our 2nd annual Lunar New Year dinner – which was much larger than the prior year, and where we raised $2,500 for the Center for Youth Development through Law. The Diversity Committee also put on a Racial Reconciliation Forum and it was so well-received that we are already working on a sequel in 2020.  We also held our 2nd annual Minority Bar Coalition (MBC) Mixer and raised $2,500 for a scholarship via ChangeLawyers.  All the work of many of our incredible committee members has not gone unnoted.  First, the American Bar Association awarded an ABA Partnership Award to the CCCBA for our Diversity Checklist!  And, three of our current Diversity Committee members received MBC Unity Awards – congratulations to Lisa Roberts, Mika Domingo, and Gina Boer.

Not surprisingly, our members continued to be generous with their time and resources.  Together we raised $45,000  for the Center for Youth Development through Law during our annual Bar Fund Benefit.  We also held an excellent Pro Bono Expo in conjunction with our All Section Mixer, our monthly free legal workshops continued to be well-attended, and our Court Tour program remained very popular.  Additionally, the 28th annual Food From the Bar event raised $38,000 for the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Counties!

But wait, there’s more:

  • Between January and October 2019, we put on 72 MCLE programs plus the 25th Annual MCLE Spectacular in November.
  • We continued to provide the Member Information Series on Maximizing Social Security, Retirement Healthcare, Student Loan Debt, and Navigating Life Transitions.
  • We are planning a series of nine practice management and educational programs for 2020.
  • We successfully and smoothly transitioned the Criminal Conflicts Panel program away from the CCCBA while ensuring that Panel Members did not experience any disruption to their practice and supplemental income.
  • From January through September 2019, we made 2,657 referrals through the Lawyer Referral and Information Service.
  • We held our first event at CalShakes, and our 3rd annual A’s game and tailgate party was another success.
  • We had 13 folks attend the first MCLE & Cultural trip to Portugal in 2019, and are already planning a trip to Cuba in 2020.
  • And we held five Happy Hour gatherings, and started Coffee gatherings, through the county, which were always well attended.
  • In addition, the CCCBA Editorial Board put out the nationally award-winning Contra Costa Lawyer Magazine each and every month

On a personal note, my term as President is now winding down. I could not have navigated these past two years without the support, guidance and wisdom of so many of you.  I want to thank all of the staff for their hard work and dedication to the CCCBA.  I would also like to thank all the Board Members, Section Leaders, and all volunteers, members and sponsors for your time, energy, and focus on helping the CCCBA thrive and live up to its mission.  And, I know that the CCCBA will be in great hands for the next few years, and poised to thrive for another 85!  Thank you for making the CCCBA the best bar association around!  Cheers to you!