Friday, July 1, 2011
Look to History for Inspiration, New President Tells County Bar Members at Installation
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The legal community faces uncertain times, but can look to the past for inspiration in what is sure to be a challenging year, the newly installed president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association told members.
While “we are barely emerging from the darkest days of the recent downturn” and the “regulatory future” of the practice is in question as debate rages over State Bar governance, “it’s still great to be an Angelino…a great privilege to be a lawyer…and great to be a member and volunteer for the Los Angeles County Bar Association,” Eric Webber told an assemblage of 400 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Wednesday night.
He told attendees of the sold-out event to “look beyond the immediate horizons,” and consider “our past, and the proudest moments of our past,” which demonstrated LACBA’s ability to adapt to changing needs in the community, such as the addition of access to justice and increasing diversity as “core missions” of the group.
Webber, of Irell & Manella, is the first openly gay man to serve as president of LACBA, and said he was “proud to play a small part” in the history of the group as well.
He spent several minutes praising outgoing President Alan Steinbrecher of Steinbrecher & Span LLP, opining his predecessor in office “clearly left this organization better off than he found it.”
Webber said Steinbrecher was “a real inspiration,” “proved enduring the power of a more gentlemanly style,” and “set a very high mark for me and others who will follow in [his] footsteps.”
Steinbrecher also delivered brief remarks, reflecting on his year at the helm of the nation’s largest metropolitan voluntary bar association. He said he was proud of having accomplished his goals of creating a balanced budget for the organization which provided salary and retirement increases for its staff, the implementation of a strategic review plan, the establishment of an Armed Forces Committee to serve the needs of military veterans, and being able to “add a voice” to issues facing the judiciary.
Before ceremonially passing a gavel and leadership to Webber, Steinbrecher presented the Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Awards to Brian E. Schield of the AIDS Legal Services Project, Abby B. Friedman of the Domestic Violence Project, Jack Chihyao Sung of the Immigration Legal Assistance Project, and Patricia Hurst Holt of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service.
Brian D. Huben of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP was also honored with the Samuel L. Williams Outstanding Trustee Award, and Deputy District Attorney David K. Reinert, the outgoing Barristers president, was recognized with the Outstanding Section Leader Award. Reinert also presented fellow prosecutor Miguel Espinoza with the Barristers Award.
Los Angeles County Counsel Andrea S. Ordin, a past LACBA president, also received the group’s highest honor, the Shattuck-Price Award.
Ordin said she was honored to be this year’s recipient of the award, which was established in 1968 to honor two former LACBA presidents who died in office, and “overwhelmed” to have retired U.S. District Judge Lourdes G. Baird—who introduced Ordin—describe her as a “role model.”
A former U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, Ordin was the first woman to serve in the post and the third to serve as a U.S. attorney in the country. She is also the first female to serve as county counsel since the position was established in 1913,.
Ordin credited much of her success to being in the right place at the right time, and described herself as the “poster child” for bar associations, saying all of her accomplishments were tied to her memberships in such groups.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company