Whittier Bar Group Not Fizzling Out, President Says
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Despite any rumors to the contrary, the approximately 60-member Whittier Bar Association is not going out of existence any time soon, its president told the MetNews Friday.
Attorney Robert J. Anderson of Rallis & Anderson in La Habra said that a meeting held Tuesday evening to discuss the possibility of merging with the Southeast District Bar Association produced a firm consensus that the group should maintain its independence.
Anderson, who lives in Whittier, noted that the association has been in existence since at least the 1940s and that Richard M. Nixon was a member during his days as a practicing lawyer.
Talk of a possible merger with the SEBA, which has about 200 members and serves such neighboring communities as Norwalk, Downey, La Mirada, Cerritos, South Gate and Bell Gardens as well as Whittier, has been intermittent during the approximately eight years he has served as a board member, Anderson said.
“It’s come up at different times, but never really got hashed out,” the president commented.
In the group’s August newsletter, Anderson described the issue as having “hovered about in the periphery” during his tenure on the board, and encouraged interested members to attend Tuesday’s meeting for a discussion titled “To Merge or Not to Merge.”
Anderson said the meeting drew, among others, eight past presidents of the group going back as far as 30 years. He called it a “very productive meeting” which probably put the notion to rest for good.
“We have no interest in merging,” Anderson declared. “We’re going to stay just the way we are.”
The president said that in calling for the meeting he was not pushing for a merger. His thought, he said, was, “Let’s bring it up and drive a stake through its heart.”
The meeting also produced a number of suggestions for future activities for the group, Anderson added, and some discussion about how the focus of the association had changed in recent years. At one time, he noted, about 75 percent of the group’s members were “general practitioners” who handled a variety of types of cases, but now nearly all are specialists of one type or another.
That makes it hard for the organization to provide MCLE programming that will benefit more than a small fraction of its members, he said.
Members attending the meeting noted that MCLE classes are no longer hard to find, and suggested that the group focus on “more human interest stuff” in scheduling programs, Anderson explained.
He observed that his partner, Ronald D. Rallis, recently returned from an 18-month stint in Iraq. Rallis, a reserve officer, will probably be a speaker at a future meeting, Anderson said.
“They want to talk to him,” he said.
Though he conceded that the organization has had to deal with a downturn in participation recently—“Things have waned for us a little bit in the past year,” he commented—Anderson said he did not schedule the merger discussion as a means of stirring up enthusiasm.
“I didn’t do it with that idea in mind,” he declared.
But the meeting may have had exactly that effect, he said.
Though a number of members are reaching retirement age, the group has recently received six new membership applications, Anderson said.
One member who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting is the group’s president-elect, H.R. “Rita” Topalian. Topalian, who is the Republican candidate for state Assembly in the 58th District, said she would like to have been there but was committed to a campaign activity.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company