As I sat down to write this month's President's Message, I realized that we have a plethora of announcements and acknowledgments, in addition to my philosophical musings.

First of all, I wanted to thank our expert panelists, Habib Bentaleb and Lauren Vázquez, for presenting a truly captivating cannabis program at our September General Membership Meeting. It is incumbent upon us to educate our members about their specialty areas of law through our section programming, but it was particularly interesting to see how the undiscovered world of legalized cannabis sends out tendrils to so many different substantive areas of law. We do not get a completely new area of law that often and we welcome your ideas for follow-up programs as the regulatory framework is enacted and case law develops. Will this invigorate our Tax Section?

At the September meeting, I also announced our Nominating Committee's 2018 Officer and Director slate, which is also posted in the News Section of our website. Please note the October 10, 2017, deadline to submit any additional nominations in compliance with our bylaws. Voting for any positions with a single nominee will occur at the Annual Judges' Luncheon, our October General Membership Meeting.

The Early Bird registration deadline for The Annual Judges Lunch ends October 20, so sign up now to save. Please also remember to send us any questions you have for our bench by October 18. We can't promise that every question will be answered, but we'll ask as many as we can on your behalf!

Please also stay tuned for further information on our 10th Annual MCLE Fair. We are very proud of the fact that we offer engaging programs with human interaction. Of course, meeting your mandatory minimum requirements could be done alone, in a dark room, desperately viewing hours of online courses the night before the compliance deadline, but in my humble opinion, being entertained while being educated makes the material far more memorable. This year, I invite and challenge all of you to make time for the MCLE Fair, especially because our keynote speaker is David Kelly, General Counsel and VP, Basketball Legal Affairs, for the Warriors. David is a phenomenal speaker and his insightful discussion of diversity is sure to resonate, especially in these very interesting times where people take a knee to take a stand.

I am pleased to announce that the Marin County Bar Association has selected A. Jeanne Grove as our Minority Bar Coalition (MBC) Unity Award Recipient. The Unity Awards recognize attorneys who have been exemplary in promoting the cause of diversity in the legal community.

Jeanne, a partner at Goldstein, Gellman, Melbostad, Harris & McSparran, LLP, serves as Co-Chair of the MCBA Diversity Section, delivering topical programs on inclusion, bias, and discrimination. In that capacity, she has organized two MCBA Diversity Roundtables. These events bring together Marin County judges with our members, providing valuable insight and informative, substantive discussions about the elimination of bias. Jeanne has helped launch a mentorship program bringing together Diversity Section and Barristers Section members.

MBC is a network of over 40 diverse bar associations dedicated to working in a unified manner to advance the cause of diversity in the legal profession, by sharing best practices and resources in bar association programming and advocacy, finding issues of common cause, and building shared platforms. Despite the name, MCB includes not only specialty bar associations but the geographic bar associations in the Bay Area, and works in partnership with the support of the State Bar.

All MCBA members are invited to attend MBC’s Annual Reception on November 14, at UC Hastings where the awardees will be honored. Through the generous sponsorship of the member bar associations, all members can enjoy this reception for FREE. This is a great opportunity to network with attorneys from all over the Bay Area, and meet some outstanding law students. We would love to have a strong showing to celebrate Jeanne's outstanding leadership and elevate the profile of MCBA.

In closing, I am sure you've noticed the development of several themes in my commentary over this last year (hint: promotion of civility in the profession, championing the value of diversity and inclusion, and stalwart defense of the Constitution). Well, just the other day I came across MCBA member Dick Spotswood's article in the Marin IJ about the effort to commit to informed, respectful dialog when confronting the issues of the day. I took a look at, and was glad to see this conscious step to reverse the apparent degradation of thoughtful discourse in our society.

I spent a fair amount of time looking at the resource links to see how well the ideas lined up with my own. I found some great articles on the Institute for Local Government site, such as "Dealing with Emotional Audiences" and "Free Speech vs. Hate Speech," which contained some universally helpful concepts. I must confess I did fall down an internet rabbit hole in my efforts to avoid unintentional endorsement of any view that I (respectfully) opposed. I actually fell so far down this hole that when I looked up from a New Yorker article entitled (I kid you not) "The Rabbit-Hole Rabbit Hole," it was midnight.

But in the end, yes, I took the pledge.