MCBA hosted its first-ever all-virtual MCLE Fair last month. In another first, we partnered with multiple Bay Area bar associations, which allowed more people to attend at member rates. The Bay Area-wide audience and ability to appear via Zoom enabled us to attract prominent speakers and panelists from around the Bay Area and beyond. With thirteen separate programs over four days, including several panel discussions, program highlights will have to suffice for our recap.

The Fair’s first day comprised three topical and timely presentations: A panel discussion on criminal justice reform in California and two presentations that earned attendees elimination-of-bias credits, one on race and one on gender. Our kick-off presentation was a celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution’s Nineteenth Amendment. Sister Pat Dougherty from Dominican University discussed the many years of activism that often-forgotten leaders of the Suffragist movement undertook to win universal voting rights. She highlighted the continued struggles to realize the right to vote for African American women and to maintain that right in the face of numerous contemporary efforts to disenfranchise voters.

At lunchtime, MCBA board member Karthik Raju moderated a lively discussion of efforts to reform the criminal justice system with Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli, Public Defender Jose Varela, and Cristine Deberry from the Prosecutors Alliance of California. The day finished with a discussion of the struggle to combat racism in our own legal community. Former MCBA President Otis Bruce, former MCBA board member Toussaint Bailey, and Ruthe Ashley highlighted how far we have to go to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity here in Marin. We hope that this panel will return to continue this discussion.

The remaining three days of the Fair featured three exciting keynote presentations. On Tuesday, MCBA fan favorite, Professor Rory Little, gave a preview of what is likely to be a notable SCOTUS term. Professor Little opined that the newly expanded 6-3 conservative majority is likely to bring us groundbreaking decisions on the Establishment Clause and on personal privacy. On Wednesday, NPR political reporter Marisa Lagos interviewed Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of the State of California. The Chief Justice spoke candidly and informally about the challenges the courts and Judicial Council have faced during the pandemic and the challenge systemic racism poses to our judicial system, even as she leads a Supreme Court that proudly reflects the diversity of California. Day four of the Fair featured a wide-ranging conversation between Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, and incoming MCBA President Tim Nardell. Dean Chemerinsky addressed the challenges of running a law school and teaching remotely during a pandemic, the mechanics of the Presidential transition process, his vision for a more progressive interpretation of the Constitution, the extremely conservative bent of the current Supreme Court, and potential changes to that Court.

The Fair presented several panels on practical aspects of practice. These included a bootcamp covering IP basics for non-IP lawyers, brought to us by Naomi Gray, Jeffrey Knowles, and Steve Nielsen and a roundup of changes in real estate law during the COVID-19 era, brought to us by Elva Harding, Len Rifkind, and Sean Ponist. Incoming MCBA board member Tom McInerney moderated a discussion with Therese Lawless and Donna Rutter regarding some of the innumerable recent changes in employment law. Valerie Fenchel moderated a lively and informative discussion of the crossovers between family law and probate law with Renee Chernus and Michelle Lerman. MCBA’s litigation section held a conversation about jury trials during the COVID-19 era, featuring war stories from Stuart Chandler and Ricardo Echeverria, moderated by MCBA President Susan Feder.

The Fair concluded with a fun and mouthwatering experiment in virtual social gathering. Chef Scott Cardel efficiently demonstrated the preparation of several delicious and easy Thanksgiving side dishes (recipes available here), for which Dan Moberg of Thirty-Seven Wines artfully paired a choice of wines.

MCBA members who participated in the Fair will be able to access their MCLE credits and download certificates of attendance from their account page on the MCBA website. You can access the materials from all of the presentations on the Fair’s handouts page.

The MCLE Fair would not have been possible without the tireless work of Mee Mee Wong, with support from Denise Belli and the MCLE Fair Committee: Tim Nardell, Susan Feder, Ahtossa Fullerton, and Karthik Raju. Thank you all for your innovative efforts to create a stimulating, engaging and useful virtual program.