Thursday, September 30, 2010
Conference of Delegates Official Resigns With Shot at Board
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Laura Goldin has stepped down as executive director of the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, citing disagreement with the current leadership’s long-range plans for the group.
Goldin had been involved with the organization for more than 30 years.
In her resignation letter, a copy of which she provided yesterday, Goldin accuses the Board of Directors of persecuting her while undermining the work of last year’s board towards asserting its independence from the State Bar.
Newly installed chair John Patton said that Goldin had submitted her resignation to the board at its first meeting Sunday, the last day of this year’s conference.
“I’m not going to say there was any difficulty that precipitated the decision she made,” he said of her abrupt departure, and he thanked her for her many years of service.
Lilys D. McCoy, the immediate past chair of the organization, also declined to comment on Goldin’s departure.
“Anytime a staff member leaves any organization, that’s not something that can be commented on, as a matter of law,” McCoy said. “I can’t talk about her personal decision, it’s personal to her.”
McCoy had announced plans at last year’s meeting for the conference to begin holding wholly independent annual meetings starting in 2011, and Goldin expressed a belief that “the only way the conference can survive is to truly find methods for independent financial support and real independence.”
The conference “found real independence in 2009, and in 2010 we lost focus on that,” she told the MetNews. “I’m still trying to understand how that happened.”
Last year was the first time the conference was held at a venue separate from that of the State Bar’s annual meeting. The two groups have traditionally met in tandem, but in 2009 the conference chose to meet at a different hotel in light of strong opposition from some of the delegates to the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego based on its owner’s support of a ballot measure overturning the rights of same-sex couples to marry in California.
“Holding the conference together with the State Bar, as we learned very clearly in 2009, is detrimental to the conference financially,” Goldin said. She explained that last year’s meeting had turned a profit for the group, but the 2010 convention, which was held in conjunction the State Bar’s conference in Monterey this past weekend, “will again show a financial loss.”
Goldin wrote in her resignation letter that the former leadership “understood that the CCBA needed sustained financial viability,” but the 2010 board “lost sight of its goals and gave way to acrimony,” commencing in “angry disavowals of any plan for an independent CCBA.”
She asserted that the “so-called leadership of this organization” also “embarked on a witch hunt of me,” by launching a “bogus investigation” into the way the contract for the spring 2011 conference site had been entered, even though “[t]he facts surrounding that contract were known to every Board member and could be found in the Board’s own minutes.”
Her letter concluded:
“I cannot work under the direction of a chair, officers and a Board which, rather than spending their energies advancing the CCBA and constructing a vision for its future, have chosen to undermine the organization through personal attacks and recriminations.”
Goldin said she plans to return to the practice of law, with a focus on mediation, primarily in the areas of family law and probate. But while Goldin said she was “excited” about her prospects for the future, she still choked up when discussing her decision to leave a post she has held for the past eight years.
“The conference has been my primarily professional activity for all the years I was a lawyer, and even before that,” she said. “It’s not easy leaving behind a serious labor of love.”
Ken Petrulis, a former chair of the delegation from the Beverly Hills Bar Association and long-time participant in the CDCA, opined that Goldin’s resignation “reflects how much she cares about the conference,” emphasizing that “she’s done a lot for it.”
He acknowledged that the organization “has a big job ahead of it, and there have been a lot of debates about what direction it should go in,” and he suggested that Goldin’s departure “means we’ve got some problems that need to be taken care of.”
Scott A. McMillan, chair of the 2009 conference, remarked that he was “saddened to see [Goldin’s] resignation,” calling her “one of the principal driving forces behind the conference of delegates.”
Goldin herself chaired the 2001 Conference of Delegates, following in the footsteps of her father, attorney Leon Goldin, who served as conference chair in 1994. Her father went on to serve on the State Bar Board of Governors, but Goldin lost her bid in 2002 to do the same.
The San Francisco attorney is also the daughter of retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Martha Goldin.
She attended UC Irvine and Southwestern Law School before being admitted to practice in 1977, and met her future husband, Tony Rothschild, at the 1984 conference.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company