Friday, October 11, 2002
Author of Best-Selling Legal Thrillers Launches State Bar Annual Meeting by Telling Lawyers Never to Accept ‘No’
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
MONTEREY—Author Brad Meltzer yesterday kicked off the State Bar of California’s annual meeting here by sharing with his lunchtime audience the lesson he said he learned from his 24 rejection notices.
“Whatever it is you do in your life, don’t let anyone tell you ‘no,’” he said. “Life is subjective. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘no.’ That is how you change the world.”
Meltzer, author of bestselling legal thrillers such as “The Tenth Justice,” which he wrote in law school, and “The First Counsel,” spoke at the Foundation of the State Bar Luncheon, the first event of the four-day session held in celebration of the State Bar’s 75th anniversary.
“I had 24 people telling me to give it up” and do something else in life, Meltzer said. But he persisted, and is now mentioned along with other bestselling attorney/authors like John Grisham and Scott Turow.
Meltzer noted also that he was lucky, especially since he found a professor at Columbia law school to give him class credit for writing his first book.
Although the Foundation lunch was the first big gathering of the annual meeting, hundreds of attorneys from around the state began arriving Wednesday evening to be first in line for morning MCLE classes, traditionally one of the biggest draws of the yearly session.
Highlights include last night’s California Women Lawyers dinner with columnist Molly Ivins, speakers Andrew Cuomo, Helane Morrison and Robert Hirshon, a Saturday address by Chief Justice Ronald M. George and the swearing-in of State Bar President James Herman.
This year’s meeting also marks the last-ever session of the Conference of Delegates as an integrated part of the State Bar. When the conference gavels closed Sunday, it will formally disband and its place will be taken by the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations-an independent group linked to the State Bar by contract.
Outside observers may see little difference. The conference will continue to meet jointly with the State Bar, and members will still be able to contribute to the conference by through the State Bar’s dues statement.
But attorney Stephen Marsh of San Diego’s Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps, this year’s conference chair, said the move is a big one for delegates.
“Don’t be surprised if you see some special ceremonies” and maybe a tear or two, Marsh said.
This year’s conference docket includes the usual array of resolutions to fine-tune the practice of law and the justice system, plus the more controversial items such as expressions of concern about U.S. policies toward uncharged terror suspects.
Since the conference is still part of the State Bar this year, Marsh said, rules that prevent the organization from taking up resolutions not directly related to the practice of law weill be ruled out of order. Even in future years, Marsh said, the conference will retain its purview rules—but it will have far more latitude to discuss items members want to take up.
As tradition dictates, the conference adjourns Saturday for Herman’s oath and his speech to State Bar members.
It is a day that current President Karen Nobumoto said she has been looking forward to.
“I’m counting the days,” Nobumoto said.
In September 2001, Nobumoto took the oath in Anaheim and made a speech in which she vowed to reach an agreement between the conference and the State Bar, implement a new governance program for the Board of Governors and push the Legislature to pass a measure toughening the penalties for the unlicensed practice of law.
She succeeded on all counts.
“I really put myself under some pressure by laying before everyone what my goals were,” Nobumoto said. “But that’s what I have learned. You say what you are going to do, you do it, and then you say that you have done it.”
Given a lighter assignment by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for her State Bar presidential year, Nobumoto said she plans to take a month or so to prepare a training manual for her fellow prosecutors who will handle unlicensed practice cases under the new law. Then, she said, she is hoping for an assignment to a tough unit—District Attorney Steve Cooley’s new “cold crimes” unit, or perhaps arson, or the UPL group.
Also taking the oath on Saturday along with Herman will be new members of the Board of Governors, including two District Seven members representing Los Angeles County—Deputy District Attorney Steve Ipsen and Century City practitioner David Marcus. They succeed Deputy District Attorney Patrick Dixon and private practitioner Maria Villa.
Both have cited with approval complaints that a few current board members have put forward that the State Bar remains elitist and out of touch with most members. The so-called “outsiders” group has called for lower dues.
Meeting at the same time, but several hundred miles to the south, is the California Judges Association. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory O’Brien will be sworn in Sunday in Newport Beach as the new CJA president.
O’Brien said he would look into having the State Bar and the CJA meet in the same city in the future, as was the case in the past.
“We have a lot of judges who are married to lawyers, and they like to be able to go to both,” O’Brien explained. “Besides, there are a lot of judges who remain ‘bar junkies’ from their lawyer days and like to check in and see what is going on.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company