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Thank you for an extraordinary year as SCCBA President

Posted By Dianne L. Sweeney, 2014 SCCBA President, Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dianne L. Sweeneyby Dianne L. Sweeney

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

2014 SCCBA President


While it seems to me that 2014 passed in a matter of weeks and I am eager to continue the work that still must be done, I wanted to take this moment to thank each of you for an extraordinary year.  I have been profoundly honored and grateful to serve as your President this year.  One of the many benefits I have enjoyed as president is having the vantage point to see the accomplishments of our organization as a whole.  To see member, after member, working to better our legal community.  While I list some of the specific achievements below, what the SCCBA has more broadly accomplished is a renewed and more focused commitment to those principles that bind us as an organization—professionalism, diversity/inclusion, commitment to pro bono service and a desire to see our members develop thriving law practices.  These principles emanate through the daily actions of the SCCBA and guide our leadership and our members down parallel paths to ensure that our day-to-day work mirrors our mission.  


Working to maintain and improve the legal system is one of the most important contributions we can make as lawyers and I thank each of you for your ongoing support of the SCCBA in its mission to improve the legal system here in Santa Clara County.  It takes only a short read of the daily news around the world to appreciate again the vital role of lawyers, judges and courts in free societies.  One critical benefit that we enjoy in Santa Clara County is that we have a bench and a community that enthusiastically shares our values.  


I am confident that our successes will continue under the incoming leadership of the bar.  The leaders for 2015, John Mlnarik (president), Matt Poppe (president-elect), Kate Wilson (secretary) and Nicole Isger (treasurer), have each been actively involved in our leadership and are each committed to the mission of the SCCBA.  I wish them all the best in 2015 and thank them for their dedication and continued service.  


While the Board and I have had the pleasure of leading the volunteer component of the SCCBA, our achievements could not have been possible without the daily support and guidance of our CEO and General Counsel, Christine Burdick and her staff.  Through countless events, meetings and requests, whether long in planning or at a moment’s notice, the staff has worked diligently to deliver excellence on each occasion.  Sara Brylowski, our new marketing director, both developed and implemented an entirely new marketing look and feel across our entire platform, including launching a new website.  Angie Loyola, Irene Cortez, Tiffany Taubodo, Delores Hernandez, Veronica Chavez, Alisa D’Angelo, Smita  Joshi and Craig Melton have, in various ways, ensured that our volunteer members are able to deliver excellent content to our members (through traditional MCLE events, webcasts, blogs, social mixers and community service), connect potential clients and counsel through our lawyer referral service program, resolve fee disputes through the fee arbitration process and, all the while, ensuring that our budget is balanced, our bills are paid, our phones are answered and our technology platform is up and running.  It takes a village to accomplish our work so please join me in thanking each one of them for their service, support and good sense of humor.


I also want to thank the 2014 volunteer leadership team that has provided countless hours to advance all the activities and programs sponsored by the SCCBA.  First, I want to give special recognition and thanks to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees who are on the front line to provide input to me, our CEO, Chris Burdick and the Board.  They are:  the 2014 SCCBA Officers (John Mlnarik, Nicole Isger and Matt Poppe) as well as members Kate Wilson, Jill Fox, Carlos Orellana, Gabriel Gregg and Elisa Tolentino.  The 2014 Executive Committee provided thoughtful input and invaluable support to me throughout this year.


Last but not least, I want to think the 2014 Board of Trustees comprised of both elected trustees and representatives of our minority bar associations and SCCBA Diversity, Barristers and Women Lawyers.  They have given the SCCBA a new foundation for the Board’s ongoing comprehensive strategic planning that will continue into 2015.  These fine leaders include our Executive Committee members, former presidents Steven B. Haley and Mindy Morton, and trustees Adam J. Davis, Aileen F. Casanave, Carmen Rosas, Christopher W. Dull, Dana Brody-Brown, Elisa T. Tolentino, Kevin M. Hammon, Lauren E. Jones, Laurie M. Charrington, Megan E. Ottoboni, Ram Fletcher, Robert B. Wong and Sylvia Perez-MacDonald.  I would also like to thank Bob Weeks for his long-term service as our ABA Delegate as well as our former-president Mark Shem, who just completed his term as the State Bar Trustee for our District. 


Some of our accomplishments in 2014 include:

  • New Website designed to better showcase the work and resources available to SCCBA members including streamlining the process to join SCCBA committees and sections, opening new channels to connect with other members so that new ideas and opportunities can be readily shared.
  • Formation and Launch of The Center for Ethics & Professionalism.  The Center showcases our extensive work and commitment in this area and provides a host of centralized resources to members.
  • Creation and release of our new logo which balances a modern look and feel with our deep ties to our nearly 100 year history.
  • Completion of our First Phase of Strategic Planning at a Board level to ensure, among other things, that our long-term plans account for the demands of our newer and future members as well as the retirement of some of our baby-boomer members. 
  • Continued commitment to the community through our Lawyers in the Community as well as the Courtroom Program.  This year we held another Second Harvest Food Bank Service event and began a collaborative process with the San Jose Mayor’s Office to ensure that our members are more aware of City commission and board volunteer opportunities
  • Held the 2014 Bench/Bar Leadership Professionalism Summit as one of the various steps we took to keep the Code embedded in our day-to-day practice and experience with the courts.
  • The Northern District of California adopted its first civility code based on the SCCBA Code of Professionalism. We are now asking other counties to join in that effort so we can further share the benefits that the Code has long provided to our local legal community.  
  • Launched the new Judicial Assessment Committee, implementing the Judicial Assessment Procedure for the first time and created a new survey that will be distributed in first quarter 2015.

For nearly 100 years, the SCCBA has been a leader in our community and, as we approach our century-mark, I am proud to report that the SCCBA is a vibrant and critical leader in the local and statewide legal community and, I am proud to have been given the opportunity to serve as your President.  I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season and look forward to seeing you in 2015.


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