Aug 01, 2018
A Mid-Year Report
Aug 01, 2018
By Thomas Brown
We have crossed the 50-yard line of 2018 and I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on what we’ve accomplished at the Marin County Bar Association and what we still hope to do this year. In my January message, I reminded you of MCBA’s Mission Statement: “To involve, encourage, and support bar association members, to serve as a liaison to the Marin County Courts, and to educate the community and enhance access to legal services.” One of the ways we advance those goals is through our monthly membership programs. We kicked off the year with a timely and fascinating talk by Dan Mogulof, Assistant Vice Chancellor for UC Berkeley, about the challenges of enforcing and protecting the First Amendment at our nation’s largest public university system, followed by Santa Clara Law School Professor Gerald Uelman’s thoughts in February on “Whether a Trial Is a Search for the Truth.” Our annual pro bono luncheon in March recognized the outstanding contributions of many members of our community and included an impassioned speech by board member and award recipient Tim Nardell.
Turning to the political arena, MCBA sponsored the well-attended and informative District Attorney Candidates Forum in April. In May, we heard from Jennifer Reisch and Bernice Yeung regarding gender inequality issues in light of the #metoo movement and then were regaled by Professor Rory Little in June on Justice Kennedy’s retirement and the Supreme Court docket. Last month featured a discussion about the gig economy and the changing nature of legal representation from Nancy Allred (Senior Counsel, Policy for Airbnb) and Loni Mahanta (Associate General Counsel for Lyft), two of the gig economy’s key players (which you can read about in Sue Feder's report in this month's issue.) I am pleased to report that the feedback on all of these meetings has been very positive and we look forward to continuing to offer you informative and entertaining programs. To that end, we are thrilled to announce that Judge William H. Orrick has agreed to address the membership at our September meeting, which will be followed by the always popular Judges’ Luncheon in October, before we wrap up the year with the annual MCLE Fair in November.
This month’s newsletter focuses on educating the membership on the hot-button issue of immigration and its impact on our local community. Immigration is indeed a complicated and multi-level issue and has certainly dominated the national headlines of late. At press time, the President was threatening a shut-down of the government if Congress did not provide funding for the border wall. Here in Marin County, several hours and hundreds of miles away from the Mexico/United States border, we may question what our legal community can do to become involved in the challenging issues raised by the separation of families. I wish to bring to your attention two opportunities for attorneys to assist with family detention cases in a way that provides enhanced access to legal services. These opportunities involve spending a week at either the Karnes Detention Center or Dilley Detention Center, located one hour and one and one-half hours from San Antonio, respectively, as part of a 10 to 15 lawyer team of onsite volunteer lawyers. The programs are run by Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and legal Services (RAICES) and CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Projects. These organizations provide training and put together the teams so there are attorneys with Spanish and immigration law skills on each team. My firm as well as several other large corporate law firms in the Bay Area are involved in seeking approval to assist at these programs on a pro bono basis. More information about each organization can be found at caraprobono.org and www.raicestexas.org/volunteer.
A number of pieces have appeared in the media over the last several months regarding the mounting pressures at work and the impact those pressures can have on the mental health of individuals. Lawyers, regardless of how mentally strong we may consider ourselves, are not immune to those pressures and impacts. Practicing law comes with challenges that we all should not simply ignore; we need to consciously manage the fast pace of our practices and our own personal well-being and mental health. I include here a link to a recent article from the American Lawyer that touches on the widespread mental health concerns plaguing the legal profession and how those concerns can be addressed. This fall, we hope to offer the membership several supportive opportunities designed to improve our individual and collective mental health. One event to place on your calendars for September 28, 2018, is the Joy In The Law Conference sponsored by the Maier Law Group and The Joy In The Law Planning Committee. Look for additional updates from MCBA and check our website for details on other upcoming programs.
Finally, and unfortunately, this summer seems like déjà vu all over again. Fires are raging throughout California, resulting in the evacuation of thousands of people, destruction of entire neighborhoods, closure of Yosemite National Park, and the ultimate tragedy, the death of several residents and first responders in the Carr Fire outside of Redding. I have reached out to the President of the Shasta-Trinity Counties Bar Association to offer any assistance from MCBA. I am informed that the courts are closed for the week while the evacuation orders remain in effect and that many attorneys have been displaced either from their offices or their homes. Please contact me directly if you are willing and able to cover court appearances on behalf of members of the STCBA. You can also help by donating to a Carr Fire-specific community disaster relief fund here.
As always, please let us know if there is anything the Marin County Bar Association can do to assist in your practice. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer and I’ll see you around the courts.
Thomas S. Brown is Of Counsel at Foley and Lardner LLP where he is a member of the Firm’s Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations Practice Group. He is President of the Marin County Bar Association and earned his B.A. from UC Berkeley and J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law.