Barristers Can Facilitate Career Enhancement | By Doron Eghbali, Barristers President

Doron EghbaliMy friends and colleagues often ask me how their involvement in the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Barristers could help them with their career. My response to them is often simple: become sincerely involved and you will appreciate the tangible and intangible benefits.

In fact, given more than 20 projects and programs that our Barristers’ section offers members and non-members alike, any serious and sincere Barrister would find a program to get involved with or even spearhead, of course with our help and support.

Such Barristers’ programs not only help the community, but also reward those dedicated Barristers who spend their weekends or evenings planning and executing such programs with credibility in the eyes of their employers and clients. This credibility often translates into new and lucrative attorney-client relationships.

Community

Indeed, impeccable reputation and integrity are sine qua non for a successful legal career. Community involvement on the level that Barristers have accomplished undoubtedly helps those volunteers with name recognition.

For instance, on October 25, 2014, Rachel Balchum and Elizabeth Peterson diligently and deftly planned and executed a legal clinic involving more than 30 volunteer Barristers serving more than 100 people as part of L.A. Law Library Pro Bono week.

Kudos to Rachel and Elizabeth who undertook this colossal endeavor under the able aegis of Barristers Immediate Past President Autumn Ronda. In addition, on November 8, 2014, Barristers presented “What Every Tenant Needs to Know,” a substantive two-hour free Landlord-Tenant seminar to the public, at Roxbury Park.

The other examples of Barristers’ constant involvement in the community would be our monthly Roxbury Park Free Legal Clinic and Samoshel. Every first Saturday of the month our volunteers, run by our able Barristers’ President-Elect William S. Wenzel, provide free legal advice to the public.

Every second Saturday of the month, at Santa Monica Shelter, our dedicated Barristers’ volunteers cook and feed around 60 homeless people under the tutelage of our own chef extraordinaire, LeRoy Williams. Another project involved a toy drive in December, before the New Year, to help the greater Los Angeles’ impoverished children.

Legal Community

In addition to community involvement, Barristers are also involved in the legal community by planning and executing a few substantive MCLEs a month, geared mostly toward the needs of the younger attorneys. Our revived “Lunch with…” Power Lunch Series, run by our own Brian Schaller and Yan Goldshteyn, brings together illustrious attorneys in different practice areas with a small group of younger attorneys for an informal and candid round table discussion.

Career Enhancement

Given more than 20 or so events and programs the Barristers spearhead, any member of this proud and humble community should feel rewarded. Hence, when Barristers state these accomplishments on their resumes, LinkedIn, Avvo, Twitter, or Facebook pages, clients and employers take notice.

Clients know that such dedicated lawyers will steadfastly champion their rights, while employers realize that such competent and accomplished lawyers are invaluable assets to their law firms.


Doron F. Eghbali is a Senior Partner at Law Advocate Group, LLP in Beverly Hills and practices Business, Real Estate and Entertainment law. Contact him at DoronEghbali@LawAdvocateGroup.com, or 310 651 3065.

LA Veterans Stand Down — Volunteer Dec. 20 or 21

Dear BHBA Barristers,

We need your help to deliver free legal assistance to homeless veterans on December 20-21, 2014, at the “Los Angeles Stand Down” held at the LA Convention Center in Downtown LA.  We anticipate that 2500 homeless veterans will attend the LA Stand Down, and many will be seeking legal assistance. These veterans need help and we cannot do this alone. Please join us to serve those who have served us.

What is a Stand Down?  Stand Downs are typically one to three day events where homeless Veterans can receive food, shelter, clothing, health care, benefits counseling, legal assistance, respite, and more. These collaborative events bring together local Veterans Administration staff, other government agencies, and community-based organizations to provide comprehensive help and support to homeless Veterans.

How can I help?  At the Stand Down, volunteers will conduct intake interviews of veterans and help issue spot in the following areas:  (1) Veterans’ Benefits; (2) Citation defense; (3) Family law; (4) Housing/Evictions; and (5) Expungements.  All volunteers will receive training on how to spot these issues and learn answers to basic legal questions in these areas.  Volunteers also will receive reference materials that they can use and refer to during the intake interviews.

How do I sign up?  To register for the LA Stand Down, please visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1EOkxQSkRhmVLAP8j7x8SNxDNTj7GU3-pWOnvqtdxYoU/viewform. The event is being coordinated by Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles (“LAFLA”).  Your responses in the sign-up form are private and will be viewed by LAFLA staff only.

Volunteers must also register (on the google document) to attend a training on one of the following days:

  1. Monday, December 15th, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at LAFLA, 1102 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
  2. Wednesday, December 17th, 5:30-7:00 pm at Patriotic Hall, 1816 S. Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90015

For more information about legal assistance at the LA Stand Down, contact Nicole M. Perez, LAFLA’s Veterans Justice Center Coordinator at nperez@lafla.org.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Stand Down!

2014StandDownFlyer

1.27.15 Veteran Advocate Training

See flyer below for details and click here for Agenda and Registration form: Veteran Advocate Training – Agenda and Registration Form 1.8

Veteran Advocacy Training

Barristers Holiday Community Outreach Project

presents

Grant a wish for a boy at Hathaway-Sycamores: For over 110 years, Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services has provided a loving home and compassionate care for abused and neglected children in Los Angeles County.  Send gifts to the boys at Hathaway-Sycamores through our Amazon Wish List!

The holiday season is one of the most exciting times of the year for children, but for children who are abused and neglected, and living in out-of-home care, it can be a very sad, difficult time.  This holiday season, the BHBA Barristers is joining forces with Hathaway-Sycamores to fulfill the special wishes of the thirty-nine boys, ages 11-18, who are currently residing in their group home.

Help us to support Hathaway-Sycamores, and ensure that the boys in their care greet the holidays with joy and anticipation.

With great care we have discovered the individual holiday wish of each boy living in the group home.  For example, Robert, age 14, expressed that he wants a Marvel Legos set, and Sean, age 17, wants a New England Patriots blanket.  We have already done the legwork by locating the products that most closely matched the boys’ wishes (factoring pricing and shipping options). We then created an Amazon online wish list where you can purchase these items (which average $35), and have them shipped directly to Hathaway-Sycamores! All you need to do to fulfill a holiday wish for a deserving child is browse the Amazon Wish List, select a child, click to purchase their special gift, pay, and have it sent directly to the home! For detailed instructions see the top of the Amazon Wish List, or click here.

Your support will ensure a brighter season for the boys living at Hathaway-Sycamores, who, with your help, will receive gifts they might not otherwise enjoy during this joyful season.

Please contact one of us at the following email addresses if you have any questions: Autumn Ronda ar@vrmlaw.com and Rachel Balchum Rachel.Balchum@gmail.com

More about Hathaway-Sycamores: Hathaway-Sycamores (Federal Tax I.D. #95-1691005) is a not-for-profit agency providing an array of services including residential treatment, therapy, special education, foster care, and in-home family support for emotionally disturbed children and their families. They are one of the largest private children’s mental health and welfare agencies in Los Angeles County, providing care and treatment of over 7,000 children and families a year. For more information visit their website at http://www.hathaway-sycamores.org/.

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.

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