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!

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.

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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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

Batter Up!

Barristers from the Beverly Hills and Santa Monica Bar Associations went head to head last Saturday in Santa Monica to play an epic game of softball.  Sadly, the home team won in the last inning, with a final score of 7-6, but the weather was great, the game was a blast, and both sides came together for a pizza party afterward.  Thanks to Jonathan Dennis for organizing, and stay tuned for details about a rematch later this year!

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Celebrating the Convergence of Art and the Law | by Anastasia Alen

For those of you who are passionate about art, theater, film, music, and the like in addition to law, you will be happy to know that this year the Barristers Board of Governors has reinvented the Committee For the Arts (CFTA) with many thanks to our President, Autumn Ronda.  The CFTA coordinates programs and events promoting important legal and social issues through the Arts.  I, together with fellow Board member, Dira Imam, co-chair the committee and to start things off on a no less than fabulous note, we held our first CFTA event, “Sights and Sounds From the Courtroom” this past April 30. 

In connection with the Los Angeles Law Library’s Annual Law Week, CFTA co-hosted a free reception celebrating the rule of law through the extraordinary artwork of courtroom sketch artist, Bill Robles, and the music of Gary Green, Esq. and his Big Band of Barristers.  Bill Robles has sketched some of the most infamous trials of the past several decades including that of Charles Mansion, Rodney King, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Michael Jackson, among many others.  Attendees were treated to a display of over 20 sketches while listening to the tunes of Gary Greene and his Big Band of Barristers as well as enjoying wine and appetizers.  Additionally, Bill Robles himself was at the reception promoting The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art, a recently released book featuring Bill’s art on the cover.  The book has 140 illustrations featuring a range of the most memorable trials of the last 50 years, and Bill was kind enough to sign these for purchasers.

It was an unforgettable evening of art, music, law, and socializing to say the least, and a wonderful way to jump-start the CFTA.  Thank you to all who attended! 

For those interested in helping us plan future events, you are welcome to attend a meeting Dira and I will be having in the next month to brainstorm ideas.  Please feel free to contact me (anastasia.alen@gmail.com) or Dira (dira@lhjpc.com) if you have any questions or comments! 


Anastasia Alen is an attorney who works in Legal and Business Affairs at the United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills.  Anastasia is a member of the Barristers Board of Governors.  She is the Co-Chair for the Committee For the Arts, the Liaison for the Entertainment Law Executive Committee, and a member of the Nominating Committee.   She can be reached at anastasia.alen@gmail.com or 310-210-4552.

Three Things:

1) A BIG CONGRATULATIONS! to everyone who passed the February Bar Exam!  Welcome to the California Bar, and we hope to see you at future events.

2) A BIG CONGRATULATIONS! to everyone who graduated law school!

3) A BIG THANK YOU! to everyone who participated in the Bench Bar Bike Ride this morning!  We had a great turn out, with about 21 people, and it was a positively glorious day for a bike ride in the South Bay.  We had a blast!

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Our next ride will be in August.  Keep checking in to learn the particular date!