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!

Get the most out of your BHBA Membership!

Do you want to learn:

How you can participate in a Section and its executive committee – and why?
How you can participate in a bar committee – and why?
How you can get to know the members, directors, officers and chairs of the bar – and why?
How you can cultivate sources of referrals and network for "career enhancement"?
How to get the most from your member benefit providers?
How you can maximize your membership?


Come to Bar Camp on Tuesday, May 20!  More details here: http://www.bhbaweb.com/barristers/ai1ec_event/bar-camp/


Check Out Pictures from This Month’s SaMoShel Visit!

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Join us next month at SaMoShel on June 14!

Pictures from Vintage Bouquet


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4/27: The 26th Annual Vintage Bouquet is THIS SUNDAY!

Have you purchased your tickets yet? It promises to be a beautiful afternoon filled with all the best food, beverages, and company you could ask for. And did I mention there will be auctions? Register today at http://www.VintageBouquet.com!

Flyer 2014

A Match Made in Bar Heaven | by Autumn Ronda, Barristers President

Autumn-Ronda-2013Matching 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 is a simple solution to a pervasive problem.

Law School Transparency recently released data on employment rates for 2012 graduates of the 200 ABA-approved law schools. Only 56.2% of 2012 graduates were employed in full-time, long-term jobs as lawyers. For the 5 ABA-approved schools in L.A. County, this number is 54.1%, which is even more disturbing than the national average.

For me, the problem is as follows: where large firms traditionally hired and trained new lawyers, they are currently not, at least not like they used to. Moreover, small to medium firms lack the resources and/or desire to train those without actual experience. One must be an “experienced new lawyer” — it is seemingly an oxymoron!

So how does a new lawyer gain the requisite skills necessary to secure a stable job? Volunteering for a pro bono legal services organization provides a phenomenal opportunity for a young lawyer to learn how to be a working lawyer. There are an astounding amount of individuals whose financial situations hinder their access to legal services. These individuals must be paired with lawyers willing to provide them with free legal representation. The Barristers provide several services and programs to facilitate said pairing.

For many years now, the Barristers have hosted a monthly Free Legal Clinic, which is open to the public, and provides a venue for any lawyer looking to volunteer. Last year, I created a Pro Bono Committee to promote pro bono work among Barristers, and instituted a monthly newsletter highlighting opportunities at legal aid organizations, including upcoming clinics, as well as details on individual cases that require a pro bono lawyer.

Furthermore, we have strengthened our relationships with local legal aid organizations by assigning Barrister liaisons to interface with the organizations, facilitate joint programming, and assist Barristers in their involvement with the organizations. Specifically, we have enhanced our relationship with Bet Tzedek by hosting free training sessions at our offices, which prepare volunteers to serve both at their clinics, and on individual cases, involving conservatorships, guardianships, and wage and hour issues.

All pro bono programs offer volunteers the mentorship of, and training by, senior lawyers. Thus, inexperienced lawyers need not worry that they will be without guidance. I urge all new lawyers in transition to volunteer for pro bono work. Not only will you gain practical experience, but you will be providing a service that is essential to facilitating equality in our justice system.

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.