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.

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!

Check Out Pictures from This Month’s SaMoShel Visit!

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Join us next month at SaMoShel on June 14!

Barristers November Pro Bono Newsletter

Dear Barristers,

In an effort to keep you informed of all the wonderful pro bono legal services opportunities available for your participation, this is the second installment my new monthly series of newsletters highlighting some of the many volunteer options available at various legal aid organizations in Los Angeleas County. 

In addition to the organizations highlighted below, we encourage you to volunteer at our very own BHBA Barristers Monthly Free Legal Clinic at La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills on Saturday, December 7th from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (and every first Saturday of the month thereafter)! If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information please feel free to contact co-chairs Brian Smith, Anton Labrentz or Wil Wenzel

Bet Tzedek

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.  Barrister Rachel Balchum is our Liaison to Bet Tzedek and she can help you navigate your way through the various opportunities.

I would like to specifically highlight the following opportunities with Bet Tzedek:

Barrister co-hosted Training Session on Representing Clients in Probate Guardianship Matters: 

On December 16th at 6:00 p.m., at the BHBA offices, the Barristers will co-host a CLE providing the training necessary to participate in Bet Tzedek's Probate Guardianship Kinship Care program. This training will cover the basic aspects of a guardianship case, including completing the court forms, filing the forms with the Los Angeles Superior, providing notice to relevant parties, and what to expect at the court hearing. The CLE is free and open to those attorneys who commit to take on a pro bono guardianship case through the Probate Guardianship Kinship Care program.  Matters are heard in the Los Angeles Superior Court, are uncontested, and typically require between 25 and 35 hours to complete, over the course of approximately 2 to 3 months.  For more information and to sign up for the program please contact Pamela Weston.

Individual Pro Bono Estate Planning Cases

The following are two clients that are in need of pro bono representation for estate planning matters. If you are interested in assisting in either matter, please contact Bet Tzedek’s Pro bono Director, Diego Cartagena.

1.       Two developmentally disabled brothers currently live in a home left to them by their deceased parents.   The home was originally left to the two brothers and their older brother.  Older brother has since passed away.  Although high functioning, the two surviving brothers are not capable of managing the estate and would like a family friend to be appointed as successor trustee.  Deceased brother left debts and an account which may have trust assets co-mingled.  Bet Tzedek would like Pro bono assistance to review the trust, have a family friend appointed as the new trustee, and set up an estate plan (possibly a Special Needs Trust) to maintain the developmentally delayed brothers in the home with all possible services and support. 

2.       Dorothy is a lovely, low-income, disabled elderly widower, aged 79, whose Certified Public Accountant drafted a will, revocable living trust, power of attorney for health care, and general power of attorney for her several years ago. She would like to have these documents reviewed by an attorney in order to make sure they are appropriate.  In particular, Dorothy is a homeowner and wants to ensure her home passes to her 7 adult children with minimal taxes.

Public Counsel

As many of you know, the Beverly Hills Bar Association was a founder of Public Counsel. Public Counsel is now the largest pro bono law firm in the nation. Public Counsel’s staff of 61 attorneys and 52 support staff – including five social workers – along with over 5,000 volunteer lawyers, law students and legal professionals assists over 30,000 children, youth, families, and community organizations every year.  Public Counsel has endless opportunities available for you to get involved and help those who are in need.  Former Barrister President, Jaison Benjamin is our Liaison to Public Counsel and she can help you navigate your way through the various opportunities.

I would like to specifically highlight the following opportunity with Public Counsel:

Foreclosure Prevention Clinic

Please join us at a Foreclosure Prevention Clinic presented by the California Consumer Justice Coalition (CCJC) on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the downtown offices of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), located at 3655 S. Grand Avenue, Suite 250, Los Angeles, CA 90007, to help provide pro bono assistance to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. This event is a collaboration by the following nonprofit legal service organizations: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Bet Tzedek, Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation (LAFLA), and Public Counsel.

Pro bono volunteers will participate in a short training (don't worry, we will provide you all the information you will need) and then meet with homeowners to conduct an intake interview, provide legal advice and counsel as well as targeted referrals. Staff attorneys will be available at all times to provide assistance.

You don’t have to have expertise in this area of practice, and you don’t need to bring anything with you to the clinic –just your great legal mind and your enthusiasm for pro bonoSign up here!  

If you participate, please let Public Counsel know that you heard about this opportunity via the BHBA Barristers!

American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project

Los Angeles Lunch & Learn

Please join your colleagues in the Los Angeles legal community on December 4th or 5th for a lunchtime discussion about current pro bono opportunities that will assist prisoners on death row.  If you've never thought about working on a death penalty matter—or if you've rejected the idea in the past as either too expensive or too time-consuming—our conversation will surprise and inspire you.

There are now many different opportunities for law firms to make significant pro bono contributions, including challenging prison conditions, administrative regulations, and methods of execution; drafting amicus briefs and clemency petitions; and systemic litigation that will improve due process protections for vulnerable groups. Hundreds of mentally ill and intellectually disabled prisoners without counsel are also looking for volunteer lawyers to become their champions. Our new pro bono model means that firms working in some states will have expert assistance that will significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs and travel.

On December 4th, join us at 12:00 p.m. at Morris Polich & Purdy, 1055 West Seventh Street, Suite 2400, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

On December 5th, join us at 12:00 p.m. at Greenburg Traurig, 1840 Century Park East, Suite 1900, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

Please RSVP here or email Kaitlin Sandin by Monday, December 2nd.

I hope this post helps you make a difference!

All the best,

Autumn Ronda

Barristers President

Beverly Hills Bar Association

 

Happy Holidays from Barristers President Autumn Ronda

Autumn-Ronda-2013I am enthusiastic, a bit nervous, and full of pride as I write this, my first Bar Brief article, addressing you in my new role as President of the BHBA Barristers. I speak for all my fellow Barristers when I say that this past year, under the leadership of our friend and collaborator, Jeanine Percival Wright, has been both personally and professionally rewarding.

Barristers Programs

Traditional Barristers programs such as Law Day, the New Admittee’s Reception, Barristers Monthly Free Legal Clinic, and Vintage Bouquet remained strong, while more recent projects such as the Community Outreach Committee and the Social Committee forged their place in Barristers history.

Early last year I put a new spin on the “Lunch With” program, expanding it beyond Entertainment Law, and establishing the program as a monthly
luncheon in which Barristers can join well-respected leaders in the legal community for a power lunch. As Committee Chair, Brian Schaller took the program to new heights and the Barristers have enjoyed tremendous success with these mini-mentoring sessions.

Lauren Gabbaian, took the lead on bringing the Barristers into the social media revolution by revamping our website, creating Barristers pages on
popular social media websites, and providing all of those outlets with continuous fresh content. With all of this to boast about, it is hard to see how the Barristers can do even more, but we have big plans to share with you!

Read more of Autumn's Bar Brief column here: 
http://www.bhba.org/images/pdf/November-December-2013.pdf

Molto Bene!

The Barristers really came together this weekend to prepare dinner for about thirty homeless people at SaMoShel.  They got a delicious dinner of chicken parmasean, penne bolognese, Italian salad, and garlic bread, along with a healthy serving of vanilla-almond pudding (with a much fancier sounding name) for dessert.  We got cooking lessons from Roshni Gandhi, Anton Labrentz, and Leroy Williams.  Everyone had a blast!

Join us for the next SaMoShel meeting on Nov. 9!

5/16: Barristers Happy Hour

BHBA Happy Hour May 16

Click here to go to the event page, where you can send the event to your electronic calendar.