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Update: SCCBA Leadership and Governance

Posted By Matthew H. Poppe, Wednesday, October 12, 2016

by Matt Poppe

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

2016 SCCBA President


The last few weeks saw the election of a new slate of SCCBA leaders, the opening of our ABA Delegate position, and the Board of Trustees’ approval of changes to our By-Laws that establish how the SCCBA is governed.  This President’s Message is devoted to these important developments.


The SCCBA’s Leadership for 2017

The SCCBA held its annual election of officers and trustees in September, and the results were announced last week.

Our one contested election was for President.  As I noted in my last President’s Message, there usually is no election for President because the previous year’s President-Elect automatically assumes that position.  This year’s elected President-Elect resigned, however, so an election was necessary.  The winner of the election was Kate Wilson, an in-house attorney with Extreme Networks, Inc.  Kate has been an SCCBA leader for several years, most recently having been appointed by the Board of Trustees to fill the vacant President-Elect position for the rest of 2016.  Kate deserves our warm congratulations, and I am confident she will provide effective leadership during the SCCBA’s Centennial year in 2017.

I’d also like to thank Kate’s opponent, Eugene Flemate, a real estate and estate planning attorney in San Jose and the current President of the Santa Clara County La Raza Lawyers Association.  Eugene has been a valuable and dedicated SCCBA member, serving multiple terms on the Board of Trustees and contributing in other ways as well, such as on our Finance Committee and Judiciary Committee.  I have enjoyed working with Eugene on the Board this year and hope he will continue to lend us his time and energy.

Several other SCCBA leaders were elected without opposition. They include Kevin Hammon, President-Elect; Gabriel Gregg, Treasurer; Golnesa Monazamfar, Trustee for Palo Alto; Sue Saign, Trustee for South County; and Jose Borger, Lori Costanzo, and Katie Diemer, Trustees for San Jose.  Congratulations to them all!


Opening for the SCCBA’s Delegate to the American Bar Association

As a bar association with at least 2,000 members, the SCCBA is entitled to appoint a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates.  The delegate attends the ABA’s annual and mid-year meetings, represents the SCCBA’s interests, votes on the SCCBA’s behalf, and reports back to the SCCBA Board of Trustees.  The delegate serves a two-year term and receives a $1,500 annual stipend to partially reimburse his or her expenses.

For the last 16 years, the ABA delegate position has been ably filled by Bob Weeks.  Faced with Bob’s decision to pass the baton, the Board of Trustees reviewed the usefulness of the position and decided to continue appointing a delegate if a suitable candidate can be found.  We would like to appoint a member who is well-regarded in the community and is enthusiastic about serving in this role.  We would also like the delegate to engage actively with the Board to plan for the ABA meetings and discuss potential initiatives and votes with us.  If you are interested in this position, please contact me or our CEO, Chris Burdick, to request an application.  Applications should be submitted by October 25.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Bob Weeks once again.  His excellent service earned him the honor of being named the first two-time winner of the SCCBA’s Salsman Award earlier this year, and the ABA showed its own appreciation for his contributions by showering him with multiple standing ovations at its most recent mid-year meeting.  His replacement will have big shoes to fill, but should also find a warm welcome at the ABA thanks to Bob’s dedicated efforts on our behalf.


Upcoming Amendments to the SCCBA By-Laws Regarding Governance Issues

The Board of Trustees has undertaken a yearlong review of the way the SCCBA is governed, looking at such issues as the size of the Board, the process for selecting Trustees, and the respective roles of the Board and Executive Committee.  The Board approved several high-level changes at its September 19 meeting, which will now be translated into specific proposed amendments to the SCCBA By-Laws.  Once finalized, the proposed amendments will be distributed to all SCCBA members and voted on at a special member meeting called for that purpose.  A summary of the proposed changes is provided below.

Board of Trustees:  The Board is the SCCBA’s chief policy-setting body.  It will be reduced from its current size of approximately 30 members to 16 members.  This is consistent with the modern trend among non-profit organizations and is designed to enhance Trustees’ level of engagement, improve the body’s decision making, and increase its efficiency.  Retaining Board seats will be the four officers, three minority bar association representatives, and chairs of the SCCBA Barristers Committee, Diversity Committee, and Women Lawyers Section.  The other six seats will be at-large positions, open to any member who meets minimum qualifications based on past SCCBA involvement.  Elected Board seats will no longer be allocated geographically to different regions of the County.  Representatives of certain other affiliate bar associations will no longer have a seat on the Board, and the Immediate Past President’s seat will become an emeritus, non-voting position.  Except for the officers, Board members will be limited to serving four years in any six-year period—similar to the current limit of two consecutive two-year terms.

Executive Committee:  The Executive Committee consists of a subset of the Board of Trustees that (a) meets more frequently than the Board and (b) is responsible for vetting issues to be presented to the Board and deciding emergency issues subject to later ratification by the Board.  Consistent with the smaller Board size, the Executive Committee will be reduced from nine members to seven.  Its members will be the four officers and three other Board members selected by the President and approved by the Board.  Per a new policy adopted by the Board, the Executive Committee will no longer provide recommendations on how the Board should resolve issues presented to it but instead will leave it to the Board to review the merits of issues and proposals in the first instance (except for emergencies).

Selection of Officers and Trustees:  The SCCBA will hold elections only when Officer or Trustee positions are contested.  The Board considered eliminating elections entirely in favor of an application and appointment process, but concluded that elections will be fairer and will appropriately keep power in the hands of the SCCBA’s members.

Governance Committee:  A new Governance Committee will be formed to assist with recruiting qualified candidates for leadership positions and help with the selection process (while having no authority with respect to the actual selection of SCCBA leaders).  Details regarding the Committee’s composition and procedures will be determined by a task force to be established by the 2017 President.  The By-Laws’ current provisions regarding a “Nominating Committee” will be eliminated.


If you have questions or comments regarding this President’s Message, or suggestions for the SCCBA on any topic, I encourage you to contact me at or (650) 614-7431. 

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