Facing the Challenges Ahead Together | by Elizabeth Peterson, Barristers President

These days, it seems like everything is in flux.

Whether it’s our nation’s political landscape, our planet’s climate, societal changes or technology, we truly do live in a world where the only constant is change.

As young attorneys, we are perhaps more in tune with and affected by these changes on a more personal level.

In particular, this year has presented the Barristers with our own set of challenges in attracting new members and keeping our current members active and engaged.

We have spent much of the first half of my term re-evaluating and reinventing our strategies to keep young lawyers engaged and excited about our projects and mission. Throughout the first half of my term as your Barrister President, I have often found myself asking: “What do young lawyers really want in today’s climate?” I have come up with many answers and have started a meaningful and exciting dialogue among our Board and the Association’s leadership.

I am excited about where this discussion will lead us and would love to start a broader dialogue with all of our members. I am inspired by Margaret Mead’s famous quotation: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

While we may not be faced with world-changing decisions, I feel our work to address the issues of engagement and retention of young lawyers is vital not only to the success of the Barristers but also to the longevity of the Association.

I am very confident in our current Board to continue the great work we do and, in looking far beyond my tenure as President, I feel it is invaluable for us to start this dialogue now so that the Barristers may remain an essential part of the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the community at large.

I welcome the opportunity to speak with you one-on-one and hear your ideas and thoughts. I invite anyone who might be interested to attend our monthly board meetings in an effort to continue this dialogue.

We meet every second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. at the BHBA office at 9420 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd Fl., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Join us as we continue to plan for the success and longevity of the Barristers Section!

Elizabeth practices family law with Howe Engelbert LLP. Her practice is dedicated to dissolution cases and dependency law. She can be reached at 310 626 1383.

The Keystones of a Bar’s Bright Future

William S. WenzelThis article marks the conclusion of two years of my deep personal investment in the Beverly Hills Bar Association as a leader of the Barristers, first as President-Elect, then as President. I am deeply honored to have led and served during a period of fundamental change within our organization.

I am proud to report that our Barristers are as strong as they’ve ever been. Internally, we have had a greater voice and increased participation in Association and Foundation activities. Besides an active and vocal presence on both the Ex-Com and the Board of the Association, we have established a strong presence on the Budget and Finance committee and helped shape the resource allocation of the organization.

Our Barrister Board members sit on Membership and Ways and Means because we care about the benefits the Association confers on its members and the ways that it stays fiscally agile. And we have a committed group working on the Long-Range Planning Committee to ensure that the Barristers have a voice in the Association’s direction over the next 5-10 years.

Over the last two years, I have worked hard to ensure that our group of young lawyers has a place at the table in this Bar Association. And I am deeply grateful that the Association and Foundation have welcomed us with open arms in a way that is unmatched by any other professional organization.

But the Barristers’ enthusiasm over the last year has extended well beyond the walls of the Rolex building. We’ve made the Barristers a fundamental component of the Teen Court organization–they rely on us to fulfill their mission. And in doing so, we have helped hundreds of high-school-age kids around the Los Angeles area.

We’ve put our hearts into the Monthly Roxbury Park Pro Bono Legal Clinic in such a way that lines form outside the Clinic a half-hour before it begins. Roxbury has become a place where young lawyers who are not yet BHBA members can go to see the good works the BHBA does and be inspired to join our BHBA community. And the same is true for the Samoshel homeless project: the Board organized a 25% budget increase for this event this year. And it’s been used to make innovative and creative meals every single month – and provided a place for lawyers to bond over a beneficial activity.

This year, we’ve worked to make the Barristers’ role in the LA Law Library “Lawyers in the Library” event an annual standard. And the LA Law Library has come to depend on us to staff this major legal aid event.

We’ve put intensive resources into making sure that our monthly Thursday professional networking events are places where young professionals know they can meet colleagues and make solid connections.

The networking event is a go-to wherever our members meet young potential leaders who need an introduction to the BHBA’s activities. And this year, we’ve been coordinating with more young professionals than ever: from financial planners to CPAs, to young business owners.

We’ve held bike rides, and we’ve welcomed new bar passers. We threw our signature Vintage Bouquet and we’ve thrown ourselves out to the Los Angeles region in ways we’ve never done before. And in doing so, we’ve empowered our group to be stronger and more vocal leaders. We’ve had our members step up to an unprecedented degree. I’m honored to lead this group, and I’m proud to say I’ve left it better than I found it. My deepest thanks to everyone involved.

William S. Wenzel is a business and corporate attorney at The Law Offices of William S. Wenzel, APC. His office serves as outside general counsel for hire and can be contacted at 213 207 6885 or wsw@wswlegal.com.

The Task: New Leaders | by William S. Wenzel, Barristers President

William S. WenzelIt is an honor to assume the helm of the Barristers Board. In a nimble, active, and activist organization, the Barristers are a flagship. We represent several hundred young lawyers – hungry to develop our careers and make impressions. Together, we are a force we cannot be alone.

An introduction: I’m from Denver. The Coloradan in me looks to nature and outdoor activities to offset the pace LA requires. For seven years, my home was Roger’s Park, Chicago where I studied directing in the theatre. Chicago and Chicago theatre require risk-taking and gritty living. There’s little room for nonsense: it’s just too cold much of the time.

I lived in Tokyo, Japan where I knew tight spaces and the feeling of being a minority. And in Sydney, Australia, where summer was winter, and which became my home-base for a walkabout of the entire coast of that continent.

Then, for three years I lived in San Diego. I’m proud to count myself as the second consecutive Barristers’ President alumnus of California Western School of Law. It’s a testament to a school that produces lawyers ready to take the lead in serving others. But San Diego was not a place to start a career – that was for Los Angeles. I opened my office in 2011 in business and corporate law and moved along successfully ever since; every day a new adventure. So I’ve got a diverse background, I’m traveled, I’m a small business owner, and I’m more than ready to start work for the Barristers.

Inside the Bar Association, my job is to foster leaders. If new leaders step up where they haven’t before, then I will be a success.

Our board members are leaders: they’ve taken off the blinders of the day-to-day job tasks and asked our organization how they can help; they’ve put in time chairing committees; they’ve looked at resources and evaluated the most efficient method of accomplishing a project; they’ve summarized that work in presentations to the Board. They show they have what it takes to lead in this association and in this profession. I will work hard to inspire, to empower, and to direct. So when – together – we hit and exceed our goals, we will know that the BHBA is well served.

Outside the Bar, the Barristers focus our resources on a major BHBA community service project. When you read this, we will have voted between five “community service theme” options developed collectively over the last seven months: veteran assistance, community-police relationship building, domestic violence prevention, human trafficking prevention, or teen court facilitation. No matter what we decide, we can’t go wrong because our aim is to help.

Our community needs help now more than ever. We’re going to meet that challenge together.

William S. Wenzel is a business and corporate attorney at The Law Offices of William S. Wenzel, APC. His office serves as outside general counsel for hire and can be contacted at (213) 207-6885 or wsw@wswlegal.com.