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

Teen Court | by William S. Wenzel, Barristers President

William S. WenzelI’m encouraged by the strong response we’re getting from all of you regarding our Teen Court program. I share your enthusiasm. If you’re still not on board or want more evidence of the power of this program, let me relate my recent experience:

Three Barristers representatives were proctors at the inaugural Teen Court at Anahuacalmecac High School in South Pasadena/East Los Angeles. Anahuacalmecac (pronounced “anna-WALK-a-may-a”) is a Native American charter school; its teachers and students are primarily Native American.

Teen Court at Anahuacalmecac is overseen by two Native American judges: Judge Sanchez and Judge Lopez. Incidentally, both judges are Beverly Hills Bar Foundation Scholarship recipients – the BHBA’s good works resonating through our community!

Before the Court stood a 17-year-old from an affluent school. She was an honor student with a 4.1 GPA and intensely involved in extra-curricular activities.

We learned she had an internship with a congresswoman lined up after graduation. To all outside appearances this young woman was entirely on the right track. But her charging documents indicated she had caused a car accident (with no injuries to the other driver) and she was accused of driving under the influence of prescription medication. Now she and her parents stood before the student jurors.

The questioning was intense. The students asked about the accused’s family life. They grilled her about the pressures she faced at school. They did not stop with initial questions – they dug deep and asked follow-up after follow-up. It was revealed that, though the parents didn’t believe they applied pressure to succeed, the accused felt a strong internal pressure to please everyone. Between school, extra-curricular activities, and her world’s expectations, she felt she just couldn’t keep up. The night of the accident, it emerged that she got into an argument with her parents and – fed up – took two full bottles of her own prescription medication, intending to kill herself. She got into her car to drive to a friend’s house, passed out, and ran into another car.

The heart-wrenching facts couldn’t have hit closer to home for the jurors. They’ve also faced home and school anxieties, intense pressures to succeed: to get good grades but also to have laundry lists of extra-curriculars. And they saw a person their own age driven to the breaking point. It was clear they were absorbing the lessons, and remember: it was up to them to determine what should be done.

While the jurors deliberated, the two judges discussed the case with the student audience. They talked at length about the consequences for the accused had she not been diverted into Teen Court. A DUI at 17 would mean her dreams of a successful career would be put on hold if not entirely shattered. All her hard work might have evaporated over a single decision.

The jury returned a guilty verdict. But for this young woman, her sentencing was tailored to rehabilitation and growth. She received counseling and community service. She will get the help she needs to deal with the pressures she faces. And if she successfully completes her probation, her record will be clear.

It’s a concrete example of the second chances that Teen Court provides. If you’re ready to lend a hand, please contact Aimy Zodieru at or 310 975 9694. We want your help.

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


Welcome to the New Year! | by William S. Wenzel, Barristers President

William S. WenzelI wish each of you and those you love a happy and prosperous 2016.

With two months between each of my articles, there is never enough room to tell you about all of the accomplishments of the Barristers – I can’t keep pace with our tremendous team. So I dedicate this article to our ongoing project: Teen Court.

In a previous blog post you can read about what Teen Court is, so I don’t need to explain it again here. Rather, I think you may find it useful to know about what Teen Court means and represents to me:

In law school, I served for a summer with the Alternate Public Defender’s office in El Cajon, outside of San Diego. For those outside the criminal field, the APD handles cases where an inter-defendant conflict prohibits the Public Defender’s office from representing both defendants. My assignment was a capital murder case. Our client waited behind the wheel while his buddy ran inside a gas station to steal some beer; the buddy decided to shoot three people, two died. Our client was 19 at the time and faced death under accomplice liability for felony murder.

At 21 years old, our client was found guilty and it was my job to make sure he spent his life in prison, rather than having it ended by the State. Drudging up mitigating evidence, it became rapidly clear that our client had lived a life in the System. He had been neglected by family and school. Cast aside by society, he spent his developmental life in institutions. From his first juvenile arrest and conviction, he lived as an outcast – it shaped his existence. He currently serves life in prison and will never see the outside; his face and story never left me.

Teen Court gives us a chance to prevent this. Here, young accused have a unique opportunity: stand before your peers, submit and comply with their sentencing, and you won’t be “in the System.” Sentences are designed to offer counseling, structure, and guidance where there was none. And a clear record is the carrot for successful completion. Could my former client’s life have been different if he had counseling opportu- nities and his first offense wiped from his record?

There’s more: Across from the accused sit twelve young people. Through Teen Court they have learned their role in our judicial system (and its place in our larger civics system). They’ve learned about strong, smart questioning, how to ask follow-up questions, and how to critically analyze answers – skills many older people lack. Through participation, they prepare themselves to be responsible members of our society.

Finally, our Barrister proctor volunteers get a chance to be role models. A chance to credibly say, “If you want, you can be a lawyer, or a judge.” Plus, they get consistent, long-term exposure to members of the judiciary. They help their judge conduct the proceedings. Perhaps, after building a relationship, they might request that the judge write a crucial reference – after all, they’ve demonstrated skills that make good lawyers and good people.

As you read this, we’ve already begun to provide key support to the LA Teen Court program. To find out how you can be a proctor, or help in any way, please contact me directly.

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

BHBA Barristers team up with LA County Teen Court Program
Volunteers are needed to support youth and change lives

Around the state, jails are overcrowded, courts have been shut down, and kids are getting lost in the shuffle. Nearly ninety thousand (86,823) juveniles were arrested in 2014 in California alone. Just shy of 80 percent of those arrests were for misdemeanors or status offenses (crimes only applicable to juveniles, such as truancy and curfew violations). As just one of hundreds being pushed through the courts daily, each child is not given the individual attention or support he or she needs.

That’s where Teen Court comes in. By casting trained, volunteer teenagers in the roles of attorneys and jurors, the program allows first-time juvenile defendants accused of misdemeanors to be represented and judged by the people who understand them best. Jurors ask a wide range of questions of the defendant as well as his/her parents, allowing them to get a complete picture of the person. The sentences exclude confinement or fines and are directed to rehabilitate rather than to punish. They range from a letter of apology to community service to counseling. If the sentence is carried out within six months, the defendants avoid a stain on their record.

This is great for everyone. People with convictions have a harder time getting admission to college and securing jobs and housing. Not only does Teen Court prevent those first-offense convictions from appearing on a student’s record, but studies have shown that Teen Court-style programs can help keep them out of trouble in the future.

While beneficial, Teen Court often lacks support from schools that can’t provide staff or classrooms; some schools are short on volunteers to guide the process. This is why the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Barristers have made it their mission this year to partner with Teen Courts around LA County. With plans to donate volunteers and resources, the Barristers’ partnership with Teen Court will help many dozens of students change their lives for the better.

We need your help! Volunteers make sure all court sessions proceed as intended. Volunteers can be attorneys, judicial officers, or even law students. All volunteers must attend a training session, which will take place on January 28, 2016. Currently we have planned to work most closely with the program at Santa Monica High School, and we are adding more schools all the time. Program schedules will be added to the calendar.

If you would like more information or to volunteer, please call the BHBA at (310) 601-BHBA (2422) or email Barristers President Wil Wenzel at

April 26, 2015 – The 27th Annual Vintage Bouquet™ Food and Wine Event

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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.


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, or 310 651 3065.

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.

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!

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 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