Those who missed MCBA’s annual MCLE Fair missed both a roster of stellar speakers and the chance to check off the boxes for their specialty credits. And for the first time this year, attorneys and their staff could attend concurrently, with MCBA offering a separate track for legal professionals that covered everything from e-filing rules to the role of a law office in the aftermath of a disaster. Attendees were able to select programs from either track.

Law Professor Carol Langford from the University of San Francisco kicked off the attorney program with an overview of the newly updated rules of professional conduct along with “beware narratives,” or anecdotes about some of the ways you can get into trouble. Next came David Mann, a consultant for the Other Bar (see the profile of the Other Bar in this issue.) After polling coffee drinkers about the power of addiction, he reviewed the brain chemistry of addiction and discussed its behavioral and health consequences. David was a Stanford Law School graduate and served as a deputy public defender in San Francisco before resigning his license due to substance abuse issues. Attendees were moved by his relentless battle with addiction, which included numerous hospitalizations and periods of living on the streets, before he succeeded in getting clean and sober in 1998.

Expert mediator and litigator Matt White then covered recent developments in negotiating settlements and not crossing the boundary from advocacy to dishonesty. The audience peppered the speaker with scenarios and a lively discussion ensued. You can get Matt’s handout here. The Hon. Jeffrey Bleich, a former U.S. ambassador to Australia, delivered the luncheon keynote address. Jeff is a former special counsel to President Obama and a former California state bar president, now a partner at Dentons in its public policy and regulation practice. After a self-deprecating introduction acknowledging his loss in the Lt. Governor’s race, he expressed gratitude to the Marin precincts for the votes. He spoke of hope and change during tumultuous political times and discussed revisions to the Constitution that resulted from some of those times. He concluded the Q & A with a hilarious and previously-untold story of his journey to Graceland and a sweet homage to the King. He was “on key.”

Incoming MCBA President Charles Dresow then moderated a panel with Judge Geoffrey Howard and Judge Sheila Shah Lichtblau on guidelines for courtroom behavior. Discussion included using PowerPoint and “bad behavior.” On these two points: “If you don’t know how to create a good PowerPoint, don’t use one,” and bad behavior creates a lasting memory, or in other words, a bad reputation. Next up was Vince Mancini, a Los Angeles writer, comedian, podcaster and Senior Film and Culture Writer for Uproxx who shared the stage with Charles Dresow on how media and pop culture influence trial outcomes. Discussion ranged from the success of the podcast Serial to navigating public perceptions while defending clients in criminal court.

The fair concluded with an update on the legal landscape of cannabis businesses, with a panel of Habib Bentalab and Shabnam Malek, attorneys advising clients in the cannabis industry, and Josh Fryday, Mayor of Novato, who spoke about his city’s experience developing local ordinances in response to legalization of the recreational use of cannabis. The panel provided an overview of the cannabis industry and discussed current laws and regulations. You can find the handouts here and here.

MCBA would like to extend a tremendous thank you to all of the speakers, to MCLE Fair Chairperson Charles Dresow for organizing such a successful event and to the fair’s sponsors:

Buddish Insurance
Homa Rassouli, Reverse Mortgage Specialist
Ragghianti Freitas
Resolution Remedies
Rutter Group, Thompson Reuters
West Coast Reporters

Don’t miss next year’s fair! You can see photos of this year’s on MCBA’s Facebook page.