Dec 04, 2018
2018: The Year in Review
Dec 04, 2018
By Thomas S. Brown
My goal as incoming President last January was to further the mission of the MCBA, which is 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. Reflecting on the last twelve months, I see a lot that we have done to achieve that goal and I hope you’ll agree that 2018 did indeed further our mission.
Program Committee Co-Chairs Tom McInerney and Susan Feder were responsible for scheduling and coordinating our programs this year, which included an excellent slate of speakers and topics. The year started with a fascinating inside look at free speech on campus with Navigating the First Amendment in the Trump Administration by Dan Mogulof, UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Communications for UC Berkeley. Gerald Uelmen, Professor and former Dean at Santa Clara Law School, raised important questions about how our legal system operates in Is a Trial a Search for the Truth. In a year of #metoo, we had an illuminating Update on Gender Inequality Issues, hosted by Jennifer Reisch, Legal Director of Equal Rights Advocates and Bernice Yeung, Reporter for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. And with Uber and Lyft seemingly taking over the streets, we got to hear an inside view on Legal Puzzles from the Gig Economy, featuring Nancy Allred, Senior Counsel, Policy for Airbnb and Loni Mahanta, Associate General Counsel for Lyft.
The annual United States Supreme Court docket review and update with Professor Rory Little, the discussion with U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick, III, and the annual Judges Luncheon offered members insight into the issues facing both the local and federal bench. Additionally, the Bench Bar Committee led by Chair Eric Sternberger has re-engaged with the court by holding regular meetings with all members of the bench to do our part to improve the operation of the courts for the bench, our members and the public.
For educating the community and enhancing access to legal services, we continued to promote and feature the highly successful Lawyers in the Library program founded by past President Larry Strick and the services of Legal Aid of Marin, which offers pro bono opportunities for attorneys to serve the community in a variety of different legal arenas, from housing to employment to estate planning. The Pro Bono Luncheon highlighted those attorneys and other legal professionals whose work has been instrumental in providing much needed legal services to our County. Finally, the District Attorney Candidates Luncheon introduced the candidates to the membership and the public. Lori Frugoli's squeaker win in a race where every vote mattered shows the importance of forums like this.
It is my pleasure to congratulate District Attorney Lori Frugoli as our newest elected chief prosecutor and head of law enforcement for the County. Lori defeated fellow MCBA board member Anna Pletcher in one of the closest elections in this County's history. I have known Lori for over 20 years from my prior career with the Marin County DA's Office and recently had the privilege of getting to know Anna from her service as a member of the MCBA Board of Directors. Both of them are to be commended on their campaigns and I wish Lori the best of luck as she takes over for Edward Berberian, our retiring District Attorney.
I would also like to acknowledge some folks who have been instrumental in making this year run smoothly. Director and incoming Secretary Robert Rosborough acted as editor of the Marin Lawyer newsletter and has done an excellent job in sourcing articles and features every month. Kiersten Ross joined the MCBA staff this year as our Membership and Events Manager and has been invaluable in organizing and promoting the monthly membership meetings, section meetings, responding to membership questions and keeping production of the Marin Lawyer running smoothly. I cannot thank Executive Director Mee Mee Wong enough for her leadership and assistance. Unlike neighboring bar associations with larger staffs, MCBA relies solely on the hard work and dedication of Mee Mee and Kiersten, who do an incredible job handling innumerable responsibilities, from events to member services, responding to the press and the community, and generally running the more complicated than you might think day-to-day operations of the MCBA. As a number of past presidents can attest, the MCBA would not be nearly as productive or efficient without their tireless work.
Many others contribute to the success of MCBA and I'd like to start by thanking all of the Officers (President-Elect Charles Dresow, Treasurer Caroline Joachim, Secretary Susan Feder, Past President Dorothy Chou Proudfoot, and Five-Year Past President Jessica Karner) and the Directors who served this past year. MCBA's sections are key to its health and our numerous section chairs dedicate much time and effort to making the sections vibrant, where you can consult and network with your colleagues and earn CLE on current topics affecting your practice. A huge thank you to all of our section chairs for their tireless work. MCBA also offers programs that help the wider community such as fee dispute arbitration or the modest means mediation program in conjunction with the courts. These programs are possible solely because of the commitment of the numerous MCBA members who volunteer their time. Thank you to each and every one of our volunteers.
On a personal note, I would like to encourage members to assist the victims of the Camp Fire, which ravaged the town of Paradise and has devastated the lives of thousands of Butte County residents, including many in my home town of Chico. Agencies listed below are handling donations for the Camp Fire victims:
- North Valley Community Foundation: 530-366-0397
- Butte County Office of Education: 530-532-5720
- Caring Choices: 530-899-3873
- American Red Cross: 800-733-27677 or text REDCROSS to 90999
- The Salvation Army: 800-725-2769
- United Way of Northern California: To donate, text BUTTEFIRE to 91999
In closing, it has been an honor to serve as President of the Marin County Bar Association and I wish the incoming officers and board the best and pledge to continue to work to support the mission of this great organization. Thank you all and 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.