Join the National Association of Women Judges In Supporting The Informed Voters Project

Informed Voters ProjectThis election season, the BHBA and the Barristers proudly join the National Association of Women Judges in supporting the Informed Voters Project . The IVP is a non-partisan civic education initiative that increases citizen awareness about the process of voting for judges in an election. The IVP does not endorse any particular candidate; the goal is to educate citizens about why they should care about an informed vote for any judge.

The problem: in the last election approximately 50% of Californians voted. Of that 50%, only about 12% voted for judges. That means not only that a small minority of people determine who sits or stays on the  California bench, but also that special interests have a disproportionately strong voice in who wins a judicial election.

What you can do: As a member of BHBA, you have access to prepared presentation materials, op-eds and letters to the editor, and social media & blog posts with links to articles and videos. Here’s how you can get involved (from least to most intensive):

1. Incorporate IVP materials on your website/blog/linkedin/facebook/twitter: IVP has prepared a short video featuring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor discussing the importance of voting for judges. They also prepared materials ready to be posted immediately. Leverage your connections to immediately spark people’s interest.

2. Submit an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor: IVP has templates for both; the templates are ready-to-use. This is a fantastic way to get the message out with your name attached as a concerned citizen.

3. Make community presentations: Attend a short, 45-minute webinar instruction session and take an IVP-prepared power point presentation out to wherever the community gathers. A few suggestions:

  • PTA Meetings;
  • Homeowners’ association meetings;
  • Rotary meetings;
  • Kiwanis meetings;
  • Provisors meetings;
  • Law firm meetings;
  • Chambers of commerce meetings;
  • Wherever groups of people meet!

Not only will you be doing a service to this state, but you will also be holding yourself out to your community as a person who is actively involved in addressing serious community issues. Rarely are we afforded such an opportunity to engage directly and leverage such support to get a message out!

If you are interested: Please contact Brian Smith bsmith493@sbcglobal.net with your level of interest, and we will respond with the appropriate instructions and materials. Once you have participated, please get back to us and let us know how it went so you may be credited with the work you’ve done.

Together, we can use this opportunity to make a real, lasting difference in our community.

Click Here To Email Brian Smith

SaMoShelling Out the Good Stuff

At the September installment of SaMoShel, the Barristers rang in the start of football season with wings and nachos!

The Barristers always meet on the second Tuesday of the month at OPCC SaMoShel (Santa Monica Shelter) to cook and serve a meal to as many as 60 of Santa Monica’s homeless population.  Join us at our next meeting on Oct. 11, from 3-5 p.m.

Congratulations!

Autumn-Ronda-2013 Anton Labrentz

Big kudos to outgoing Barristers President Autumn Ronda and former Barristers Board of Governors member Anton Labrentz on their selection to the list of Super Lawyers Rising Stars of Southern California for 2014.  Keep being awesome!

Celebrate Pro Bono Week Volunteer for the Lawyers in the Library Clinic

The Barristers are proud to announce the official sponsorship of the L.A. Law Library's Lawyers in the Library event to be held in conjunction with the Library's annual Pro Bono Week.

Lawyers in the Library offers complimentary 20 – 30 minute consultations to members of the public who are in need of legal advice, and is held at the L.A. Law Library on a monthly basis. The special Pro Bono Week edition of the clinic will run from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 25, 2014.

The BHBA has pledged to serve the 100+ members of the public attending the clinic, so we need YOU to volunteer for this fantastic opportunity to give back!

Each volunteer only needs to commit to a one-hour time slot on Saturday, October 25th between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. (though you are able to volunteer for the entire four-hour clinic, or any portion thereof, if you so desire).

For more information about the clinic and to sign-up, please visit www.bhba.org/lawyersinthelibrary.

Volunteers don't necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.
– Author Unknown

Leaves Are Falling All Around, It’s Time I Was On My Way* | By Autumn Ronda, Barristers President

Autumn-Ronda-2013What an incredible year it has been.

First, I would like to thank my fellow officers, who have been wonderfully supportive and proactive throughout this exciting and challenging year: Doron Eghbali, President-Elect; Jonathan Dennis, Treasurer (Law Day and Softball Team); and Laura Cable, Secretary (Social Committee).

Also deserving of appreciation is Dira Imam, who, along with one of our new Board Members, Anastasia Alen, has revamped the dormant Committee for the Arts with style and grace, helping me realize my “pipe-dream” of bringing famous courtroom sketches to a Barrister event, by planning the Sights and Sounds reception at the L.A. Law Library, which featured the works of Bill Robles.

With a fresh perspective, new Board Member, Ari Giannis, strengthened our ties with the law school community by founding the new Law School Outreach Committee. Our other new Board Members, Lawrence Freiman, LeRoy Williams, and Elizabeth Hall have also jumped in headfirst, contributing to the Board in various capacities.

Diligent as ever, Immediate Past President, Jeanine Percival Wright (Community Outreach), Lauren Gabbaian (New Media), David Paletz (Social Committee), Brian Schaller (Lunch With), Yan Goldshteyn (New Member Committee), Nick Francescon and John Grimball (Vintage Bouquet), and Wil Wenzel (Free Legal Clinic) continued to amaze with their respective Committees.

Like one of the fine wines she brings to her fabulous Vintage Bouquet, Leigh Leshner has only become more extraordinary with her contributions as time passes. She leaves the Barristers this year, but we are delighted that she will still serve with us as an Honorary Board Member. Another veteran Board Member, Megan Peitzke (Courthouse Walkthrough), recipient of this year’s coveted Lawrence J. Blake Award, will also retire as a Barrister and join us as an Honorary Board Member.

A sad but hopeful farewell to those well-respected, long-term Board Members who retire from their positions on the Board: Anton Lebrentz and Brian Smith (Free Legal Clinic), and former Past President, Jaison Benjamin. Each of these Board Members leaves us with very big shoes to fill.

I’m immensely proud of what I was able to build, with the help of new Board Member, Rachel Balchum, with the launch of our new Pro Bono Committee. Facilitating joint programming among the BHBA and local legal aid organizations, and furthering this symbiosis through the distribution of our Pro Bono Newsletter, we are connecting our Barristers with the members of our community in need of pro bono representation.

Lastly, I am thrilled and relieved that I retire from my Presidency with a strong sense of accomplishment, knowing that my primary goal for the year was realized — creating a Mentorship Program for our Bar. With the help of my Co-Chair, Zev Shechtman, we have set into place a program that will reach far beyond my term, helping young lawyers establish themselves as successful members of our profession — this alone makes “it all” worth it.

*”Ramble On,” Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)


Autumn Ronda is a Tax and Estate Planning attorney at Valensi Rose, PLC in Century City. You may contact her at ar@vrmlaw.com or 310 277 8011.

Barristers Backpack Drive Supporting the Children’s Law Center

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Drop-off backpacks and school supplies at the Bar until 8/22!

It is back to school time and the Barristers Pro Bono Committee is holding a Backpack Drive to benefit the Children's Law Center of California (CLC)!  

Abused and neglected children in foster care move from one placement to another an average of four times. Many of these children do not have any bags to carry their textbooks to and from school, and are forced to carry their belongings in tattered plastic bags.  Make a difference in the life of one of these foster children with a simple donation. 

BHBA members can drop off new backpacks and school supplies such as pens, pencils, crayons and notebooks to the BHBA headquarters for donation to CLC, any time prior to August 22, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. If you plan to be at the Bar for a program or meeting, that is the perfect opportunity to bring in a donation! 

Children's Law Center of California is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. For more information please visit www.clccal.org. If you would like a receipt for your backpack donation, please include your name, address and the value of your donation along with your backpack. 

For more information or if you have any questions, please feel free to email Barristers Pro Bono Committee co-chairs Rachel Balchum, Elizabeth Hall or Autumn Ronda.

Supercharged SaMoShel

We had a great turnout at our last SaMoShel event, and everyone was chopping, grilling, scooping SOMETHING to perfection.  The menu was Carribean themed, and everyone we served was so greatful we even got some applause!  Check out pictures from the event below, and remember: the next SaMoShel will be this weekend on August 9!

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July 2014 Barristers Pro Bono Newsletter

Dear Barristers,

The mission if the Barristers Pro Bono Committee and this Newsletter is to match members of our community who are in need of free legal services, with the abundance of young lawyers who are in need of practical legal experience.  Read more about this ideal match in a recent Bar Brief article entitled, Match Made in Bar Heaven.

To facilitate said pairing, we encourage you to volunteer for pro bono work by taking advantage of one or more of the many opportunities listed below!

BHBA BARRISTERS

Barristers Monthly Free Legal Clinic

Volunteer the first Saturday of each month (note: July clinic held on second Saturday due to holiday) at our very own BHBA Monthly Free Legal Clinic at Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills, where volunteer attorneys answer legal questions presented by the public! Join us Saturday, July 12, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  If you are interested in volunteering, or want more information please feel free to contact co-chairs Brian Smith, or Wil Wenzel.

PUBLIC COUNSEL

As many of you know, the BHBA was a founder of Public Counsel, which is the nation’s largest pro bono law firm in the nation and helps more than 30,000 people every year through the power of law. Public Counsel's activities are far-ranging, and impact a wide array of people who live at or below the poverty level. Volunteer lawyers, law students, and legal professionals have the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects. For more information on Public Counsel, please contact their Pro Bono Director David Daniels.

Children’s Rights Project – Force for Foster Youth Team

Public Counsel’s Children’s Rights Project (CRP) is building a new team of 25 to 30 attorneys to help non-minor dependent youth resolve outstanding tickets and warrants in the courts. Volunteer attorneys should expect to take on up to four cases per year. Each individual case should no more than 7 to 10 hours to resolve – many of these tickets are dismissed by the courts outright in the interest of justice once the jurist learns of the foster youth status of the client. Want to join the team? Please contact CRP’s Senior Staff Attorney Ruth Cusick.

Bankruptcy Self-Help Desk and Clinic

Public Counsel seeks volunteer attorneys who wish to help individuals through the bankruptcy process, either by counseling individuals one-on-one at the self-help desk, or by presenting to a group in a workshop-style clinic. Volunteers will gain valuable client-counseling skills and increase the breadth of their bankruptcy knowledge due to the plethora of bankruptcy and bankruptcy-related issues that arise at the Bankruptcy Self-help Desk and Clinic. The Self-help Desk, located at the Federal Building, is open to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Clinics are held every other Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Public Counsel office.  Please contact Maggie Bordeaux for more information.

Bankruptcy Reaffirmation Hearings

Public Counsel is also seeking attorneys who want to gain valuable client-counseling skills by advising debtors regarding the consequences of reaffirming a particular debt prior to their reaffirmation hearing. Reaffirmation Hearings take place at the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Court and the Woodland Hills Bankruptcy Court.  Please contact Maggie Bordeaux for more information.

BET TZEDEK LEGAL SERVICES

Bet Tzedek provides assistance to all eligible needy residents throughout Los Angeles County, regardless of racial, religious, or ethnic background. Bet Tzedek's pioneering projects combine direct legal representation with outreach, education, and legislative advocacy, resulting in equal access to justice for over 15,000 low-income Angelenos last year alone.  For more information, or to volunteer for one of the listed opportunities, please contact Bet Tzedek's Pro Bono Director, Diego Cartagena.

Real Estate Fraud/Financial Elder Abuse

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney with real estate experience who has litigated in probate court to serve as pro bono counsel in a real estate fraud and financial elder abuse matter. The case involves helping an elder veteran with Alzheimer’s disease remove a fraudulent deed of trust from his home, and obtain damages for elder abuse. You can view a memo on the issues by clicking here.

Estate Planning Matter

Bet Tzedek is seeking an attorney with estate planning experience to serve as pro bono counsel to help an elderly client with his estate planning needs. You can view a memo on the issue by clicking here.

Small Claims Spanish Clinic

Bet Tzedek is seeking the assistance of Spanish-speaking attorneys to volunteer at the Spanish-language session of its Small Claims Clinic. The clinic is held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Southwestern Law School. The next clinics are scheduled for July 10 and August 14.  Click here to find information regarding the clinic!

CHRISTIANCHRISTIAN LEGAL AID OF LOS ANGELES

Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles (CLA-LA) believes that pursuing "justice for all" is the best way to offer a hand-up to the most vulnerable in society. CLA-LA is a non-profit corporation, which assists clients regardless of their religion, race, color, creed, national original, ancestry, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or age. CLA-LA offers free legal services to the poor throughout Los Angeles County and provides volunteers with training, fellowship, and FREE MCLE opportunities. For more information on CLA-LA and their offerings, please contact their Legal Fellow, Sarah McKendricks.

FREE MLCE Immigration Trainings at LA Law Library

Join CLA-LA for a full day of FREE MCLE training and lunch on Immigration at the LA Law Library on July 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Various attorneys and CLA volunteers will be teaching on a variety of immigration-related topics. Up to 2.5 MCLE credits available. Email info@cla-la.org to sign up.

Legal URGENT Care Clinic

CLA-LA is seeking the assistance of attorneys, law students and paralegals to volunteer at their upcoming Legal URGENT Care Clinics. Upcoming clinics will be held from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on July 19 at the DREAM Center in Echo Park, on July 26 at the World Impact School in South Central LA and on August 9 at Cornerstone West LA in Santa Monica. Please email volunteer@cla-la.org to sign up.

ALLIANCE FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

The Alliance for Children's Rights protects the rights of impoverished, abused and neglected children and youth. By providing free legal services and advocacy, the Alliance ensures that children have safe, stable homes, and access to the healthcare and education they need to thrive.  For more information on available opportunities, or if you are interested in volunteering or attending upcoming trainings listed below, please contact the Alliance's Pro bono Director, Laurel Adcock

Special Education Advocacy FREE MCLE

The Alliance is offering a FREE MCLE training on Pro Bono Special Education Advocacy. The training is scheduled for August 20, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 333 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 550. Attorneys will learn to gather necessary records, ensure completion of appropriate assessments, negotiate Individualized Family Service Plan (for children 0-3) and Individualized Education Plan (for children 3+), and challenge inappropriate denials or decisions. After completing the training, attendees will be eligible to work with the Alliance on Education Advocacy cases. Click here for more information.

Foster Care Benefits Cases for Representation

The Alliance is on the lookout for more pro bono attorneys to take benefits cases. By advocating for funding and services, attorneys can help provide a stable home to a child in need. Pro bono attorneys speak with the caregivers, obtain and analyze records, prepare letters, negotiate with the Department of Children and Family Services, draft briefs, prepare for hearing and ensure compliance with judges’ orders.

Legal Guardianship Cases for Representation

The Alliance is also seeking pro bono attorneys to help eligible caregivers obtain legal guardianship of their children by representing them in probate court. Pro bono attorneys meet with the family, prepare the Petition for Guardianship and represent the family at unopposed hearings in probate court. 

We hope you find this Newsletter valuable and look forward to the Barristers taking active roles in these incredible opportunities!

Very truly yours,

Rachel Balchum, Pro bono Committee Co-Chair, and

Autumn Ronda, Pro bono Committee Co-Chair and Barristers President

If You Build It, They Will Come | By Autumn Ronda, Barristers President

Autumn-Ronda-2013My managing partner was recently educating me on the “good ol’ days” in the practice of law, back when attorneys stayed with their firms for the length of their career and the industry was considered practically recession-proof. What really caught my attention, however, was when he mentioned that an associate attorney could actually make partner, without a book of business. Now, I know that firms have always stressed the importance of associates developing their knowledge of the law and perfecting their technical skills, but these days, good lawyering won’t always save you from the chopping block. In order to make yourself indispensable, even young attorneys must start building a healthy book of business.

The only way to do this is through business development, which requires marketing. I’ve met newly minted lawyers who flawlessly deliver their professional pitches, but generally, networking and branding are terms that strike fear into the hearts of young lawyers. So how can Barristers begin to develop these undisclosed prerequisites of a successful legal practice — in a painless manner?

I suggest focusing on building your professional reputation before you build your “brand.” Anyone can brand themselves in a particular manner by perfecting their sales pitch and having a substantial web presence, but reputation is based on what other practitioners, referral sources, and clients say about you. Thus, the only way to build a good reputation is by consistently and successfully demonstrating your professional integrity and skill. While building a reputation is more difficult and takes more time, it ultimately serves you better, because it is built on substance.

Involvement in the Barristers Board of Governors, and its Committees and activities provides young attorneys with a plethora of opportunities to build their professional reputation:

• Plan and moderate a CLE panel – the panelists will be impressed with your contributions.

• Help plan a Bar fundraiser – influential members of the legal community will take note of your philanthropic nature and organizational skills.

• Write articles for Bar publications – readers will remember your name as a contributing member of our profession.

• Volunteer for pro bono work – you will work closely with experienced practitioners who may refer you cases.

• Participate in changing legislation with the Resolutions Committee – enough said.

There are so many subtle ways to develop your professional reputation through Bar involvement, and these activities tend to come more naturally than those that are solely networking- based. Before you know it, you will have branded yourself organically, without needing a degree in marketing.

Remember that all of this takes time. Work hard to craft your reputation now, and you will build the foundation you need to develop your own client base, while having made yourself an indispensable member of your firm.


Autumn Ronda is a Tax and Estate Planning attorney at Valensi Rose, PLC in Century City. You may contact her at ar@vrmlaw.com or 310 277 8011.

PI Summer Mixer a Success!

The Personal Injury section's innaugural summer mixer brougt attorneys together from all different practice areas. Barristers had a great time!

From left: Barristers President Autumn Ronda, Lawrence Freiman, and Personal Injury Section Vice Chair (and Barristers Treasurer) Jonathan Dennis

From left: Barristers President Autumn Ronda, Lawrence Freiman, and Personal Injury Section Vice Chair (and Barristers Treasurer) Jonathan Dennis