They say that the Marin County Bar Association started informally in 1934, when a few lawyers began to meet in a basement restaurant in San Rafael. Ever since then, I venture to guess, networking, casual interactions, and dining have been a central part of the Bar Association. I also venture to guess to just about a certainty that there has never been a year in the history of MCBA that has been less conducive to in-person conviviality than last year and this one.

The origin of our Installation Gala tradition is even more obscure, but I venture to guess that it has been a tradition for many years. It’s an opportunity for the Marin County Bench, local dignitaries, and all of the members of the Bar Association to come together for a little fun, to see old friends and make new ones, and to congratulate the incoming officers and directors of the board and the incoming and outgoing presidents. A chance to raise a glass and celebrate together.

In 2011, under Assistant District Attorney Otis Bruce’s leadership, MCBA founded a scholarship fund to help support law students who have ties with Marin County and encourage them to become future leaders in our community. The next year, our installation dinner saw the announcement of the first scholarship awards. Ever since, we have enjoyed a celebration of the new scholarship recipients as a central part of the annual installation gala.

Despite the fact that this year, we cannot meet together over drinks and dinner, we are continuing our tradition with a streamlined one-hour installation celebration, virtual of course. We will celebrate our board members, honor the 2021 Scholarship recipients, and—most importantly—raise funds for MCBA’s scholarship program so that we can help outstanding law students and cultivate the next generation of Marin leaders. Best of all, it’s free in the hope that you will donate to the scholarship fund instead.

I am delighted to introduce MCBA’s richly-deserving 2021 scholarship recipients:

Jorge Lopez Espindola is a second-year student at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Jorge went to Novato High (my own alma mater) and is the first person in his family to attend college. He aspires to be an immigration attorney and has already shown dedication to pro bono services as a Dan Bradley Fellow at Legal Aid of Marin.

Samantha Zurcher, a second-time recipient of the scholarship award, is a second-year law student at UCLA, where she transferred from Boston College. Samantha attended San Rafael High. After law school, she is interested in pursuing a career in environmental law and public policy. Before law school, she served as a Congressional Fellow on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Samantha Cox Parra is a first-year student at Berkeley Law (my other alma mater) who went to Terra Linda High and is the first person in her family to attend college. She has already demonstrated a focus on helping the people of Marin County, volunteering at the Marin County Public Defender’s Office and at STAR Court with Judge Wood.

I sincerely hope that you will join me and the rest of the board, along with the Marin Bench and other fellow members, on Thursday, February 11 at 5:30 p.m. for one hour to hear brief remarks from these remarkable law students and celebrate our dedicated board as they take the oath of office. Even if you cannot attend the installation celebration, I hope you will donate generously to the scholarship fund. Please check your email for our formal invitation to the Installation, or learn more about it or register to attend or donate right now to help the next generation of Marin lawyers.