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Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It is such an honor to be President of the Santa Clara County Bar Association. The SCCBA is a wonderful organization to be a part of. I have met amazing lawyers, judges and community leaders. I have made personal and professional connections that will last a life time. I have held other leadership roles in the SCCBA including Barristers Chair, Finance Chair, Treasurer, and President-Elect. Now I get the opportunity to be, as one of my good friends says, “The Queen of the Sharks.” (Though I must admit I hate when people refer to lawyers as sharks.) The SCCBA is one of the premier Bar Associations in the Country and I look forward to leading it into the new decade.

My first order of business as “Queen” is to command you to attend the 2011 Installation Event which will be held on January 18, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the SCCBA offices. At this event, the new leadership of the SCCBA will be installed, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mary Arand and I will speak, the Salsman Award will be presented and my good friend and fellow colleague, Steve Krause will be performing.  You can learn more about Steve Krause and his music at www.stevekrausemusic.com.

The President of the SCCBA, if he or she chooses, undertakes a project to better our members and/or the community. This year my project is entitled “Essential Skills for Lawyers in the New Decade: Leading Lawyers to Success.”  As we enter the new decade, lawyers will be faced with new challenges, such as dealing with the current state of the economy, technology changing by the minute, many lawyers being out of work, increased use of ADR/Mediation, competition with non-lawyers and online services for work, crowded courthouses, increased competition for work, and other challenges. As a result, lawyers need to refine their skills to be successful in the new decade.

My project will consist of three main areas: leadership, technology and essential skills. UnderLeadership: throughout the year, we will explore what it means for  lawyers to be Leaders. How does a lawyer lead in the courtroom, in the community and in their practice area? What makes one lawyer stand out amongst other lawyers? How did our current legal community leaders obtain their leadership role? What skills do leaders possess?

I will also will be working within the SCCBA to see how we are training lawyers to be leaders within our organization and refining the leadership skills of our current leaders. At the SCCBA Executive Committee Retreat a few weeks ago, Chris Burdick and I led two leadership building activities. One was identifying Leaders in the World and Our Community and the other was what individual leadership skills does each member of the SCCBA Executive Committee bring to the group. Both activities were met with praise from the group.

For Technology: this year, Immediate Past-President Mark Shem will lead the E-Discovery Task Force which will present four seminars on E-Discovery.  With more of our world going paperless lawyers are going to need know how to use technology to obtain electronic information from opposing parties, file with courts electronically and know how to use software that is specific to one’s area of practice. I have asked each of our sections and committees to sponsor a seminar or a brown bag luncheon on a piece of technology that is used in their practice area. I also encourage everyone to attend the E-Discovery Seminars.  An announcement with the dates of the four seminars will be sent out this month.

Finally under Essential Skills: I have asked each committee and section to also sponsor “Best Practice Seminar or Nuts and Bolts Seminar” on a specific area of law. We, lawyers, move and work at a fast past and sometimes forget the basics. Also there are many new lawyers, who due to the current job market, are opening up their own offices, so it is important that the SCCBA is offering them training so they can be successful. 

SCCBA Presidents also have the duty to try to continue to sustain our membership and increase membership to our organization. It would be fantastic if we could increase our membership by at least 300 lawyers this year. If you know a fellow lawyer who is not a member, please encourage them to join. 

SCCBA Presidents also deal with our continuing relationship with the State Bar. This year the State Bar is exploring how it is governed. The 2011 State Bar fee bill, approved by the legislature and signed by the governor in September 2010, included a provision for creation of a Governance in the Public Interest Task Force, charged with improving the public protection function of the State Bar. Appointed by the president of the State Bar Board of Governors, the task force is made up of seven lawyers and three public members of the board. It also includes five ex-officio members. By May 15, 2011, the task force is to submit a report to the Supreme Court, the governor and the Senate and Assembly judiciary committees "containing recommendations for enhancing the protection of the public and ensuring that protection of the public is the highest priority in the licensing, regulation, and discipline of attorneys.”  I will be working with the SCCBA Board of Trustees and Executive Committee to make recommendations on this issue.

 I had the opportunity to speak with the current State Bar President, William Hebert at the swearing in of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and he is looking forward to our input on this issue. He is aware of our strong Bar Association.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful New Year.  I look forward to leading you into the new decade.

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