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A New Year for the Association and for our Local Legal Community

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 9, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

by Dianne L. Sweeney
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
2014 SCCBA President

Happy New Year to each of you and thank you for your ongoing support of the Santa Clara County Bar Association! 2013 was an excellent year for our Bar and much of that was due to the thoughtful and dedicated leadership of our now former president, Steve Haley, the Executive Committee, the Board and, of course, the ongoing support and guidance of Chris Burdick and the Association’s staff.

It is an honor to serve as your president in 2014. Having practiced in Santa Clara County for my entire career, I am continually grateful for the excellent legal community and bench that we have in Santa Clara County. In addition to my role at the Bar, I am a trial lawyer and a member of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP. My practice focuses on complex commercial and property tax litigation.

2014 marks the 97th birthday of our outstanding organization at SCCBA, making us one of the oldest county bar associations in the United States. We also continue to be one of the largest local bar associations in the country -- larger than some state bar associations. In 2014, the Board will undertake significant planning efforts to ensure our Bar is vibrant and well-positioned to serve the legal community for the next 100 years. These strategic planning efforts will, among many things, address the changing nature of membership-based non-profit organizations, the upcoming retirement of many lawyers from the baby-boomer generation, and the importance of social media to the newer members of our legal community. As the Board develops our strategic plan, I will keep you apprised of their decisions and how you can best support our efforts.

The 2014 Board, as well as the officers, will take their respective oaths of office on January 22, 2014 at the Silicon Valley Capital Club in downtown San Jose at 5:00 p.m. The swearing-in ceremony will be followed by a cocktail reception and plenty of time to network. Our Presiding Judge, the Honorable Brian Walsh, has graciously agreed to administer the oaths of office and provide some brief remarks. I encourage all members to join me, Judge Walsh, and members of our bench and legal community in congratulating our 2014 leaders. This special event at the Silicon Valley Capital Club is made possible by the sponsorship of Pillsbury, and I am grateful to my firm and each of my partners for generously agreeing to host this event and to give us an opportunity to celebrate our leadership and the new year together.

As many of you know, our Bar was one of the first local or state bars to develop a Code of Professionalism. This Code was developed in 1992 under the forward-thinking leadership of Judge Walsh when he served as president. That same year, the Court issued a Standing Order adopting the Code as a guideline for appropriate conduct of all practitioners who appear in Santa Clara County. The Code’s preamble provides that

...all lawyers are encouraged to zealously represent their clients within the highest bounds of professionalism. The legal profession must strive for the highest standards of lawyer behavior to elevate and enhance our service to justice.

Over 20 years later, our Code is still regarded as a leading authority for professionalism and the related duties including civility, integrity, candor, diligence, respect, and courtesy. In 2007, for example, the State Board of Governors adopted a set of civility guidelines based upon our Code of Professionalism. In my view, the concurrent commitment of our members and the Bench to foster a professional and collegial atmosphere makes Santa Clara County a tremendous venue to practice law. Notwithstanding the significant inroads we have made over the last two decades, each year we must take steps to ensure we protect and expand professionalism in our County. This year, we will discuss with the Court our desire to hold a Professionalism Summit with the trial team leaders of the Court to discuss our day-to-day experiences and how we can continue to foster professionalism and reduce incivility. You can help these efforts by joining the Professionalism Committee and ensuring that you have signed the Professionalism Pledge. Also, if you are mentoring a new lawyer, please ensure you direct them to the Code and to the pledge. If you haven’t already, you can easily pledge to the Code, by editing your Membership Directory Profile and selecting that option. Your commitment will be reflected in your listing on the online Membership Directory at the Bar’s website.

I look forward to seeing each of you at Installation on January 22nd and I wish you the best in 2014.

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