Conference of California Bar Associations Passes Nine LACBA Resolutions
Resolution authors work closely with the CCBA Board of Directors and with the conference lobbyist, Larry Doyle, to fine-tune proposals and locate appropriate legislators to carry the resultant measures, allowing authors an opportunity to take an integral part in improving the law. Following the conference, the LACBA Delegation voted to communicate to the CCBA and to Larry Doyle that its resolution concerning the emergency use of epinephrine auto-injectors is its first priority among the LACBA resolutions passed in 2012.
Write resolutions for the next conference. If you are interested in making improvements to code sections that affect your clients and practice, please review these and other resolutions at www.calconference.org and consider writing resolutions (with statements of reasons) that the LACBA Delegation may submit to the statewide conference in 2013.
Please take a moment to review the new format for submitting resolutions and the application to serve on the 2013 delegation. Formatted resolutions should be submitted to the LACBA Delegation Chair in care of Grace Danziger at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 25, 2013. (If you wish to be introduced to a veteran delegate to consult regarding your resolution idea prior to formatting and submitting it, please contact Grace Danziger.
Read one LACBA delegate's first glimpse of the conference. Where can you rub elbows with former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, advance your favorite policy agenda, and engage in vigorous debate with colleagues from across the state? The Conference of California Bar Associations.
I'd guess most readers have never heard of this venerable organization. Even though I’ve been practicing in Los Angles for years, I hadn’t heard of it until January 2012. Originally, I believed the conference was just a solid networking opportunity, but it proved to be much more.
The conference (formerly known as the State Bar Conference of Delegates) is made up of bar associations throughout the state. The diverse group is a mix of county bar associations, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, and specialty and minority bars, including the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles. Each association sends a delegation to the annual conference.
What amazed me about the conference is that delegates have a unique opportunity to influence California policy and change state law. Any delegate—from a newly minted lawyer to someone practicing for more than 30 years—can propose language adding, striking, or modifying California law or part of the California Constitution. These proposals are called resolutions, which, if the conference approves them, head to the desk of the conference’s lobbyist. Currently, Larry Doyle, former Chief Legislative Counsel for the State Bar of California, fills this role. Thanks to his tireless efforts and those of the Conference Board of Directors, last year 13 conference resolutions were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, with another enacted administratively. This number represents the most bills passed by any one group in 2012.
This determination resulted in a range of changes, from protecting seniors’ bank accounts from theft to modifying the Discovery Act. Remarkably, the lawmaker sponsoring one of the bills, AB 1354, actually proposed it as a conference resolution in 2005. As a member of the Santa Clara Bar Association delegation, now-Assemblymember Alyson Huber offered a resolution codifying the necessity of privilege logs. You can read about all the 2012 legislation and the proponents at http://larrydoyleesq.blogspot.com.
While not easy, turning your idea into law involves a mere four-step process. The first step begins at the individual delegate level. Early in the calendar year, delegates draft new resolutions. You can suggest anything—supporting your favorite cause or abolishing your most hated procedural hurdle. This past year, a member of the LACBA delegation proposed banning red light cameras. Next year, I’m considering taking on the “simple” task of fixing our ballot initiative process.
The second step involves a review by your delegation. At this stage, the delegation can reject, amend, or approve the resolution in principle. If you like Robert’s Rules of Order, you will love this process. Our delegation chair runs the meetings, where we debate not only the resolutions but also—because we’re lawyers—the limits on debate and the procedural requirements to amend a resolution.
If the local delegation approves your resolution, it will be offered at the conference, but first, it is sent to the other delegations. The delegations each vote on the resolution. While these votes are just preliminary, they can make or break your resolution. If most of the delegations reject it, you have a lot of lobbying (or begging) to do at the conference to grab votes. Or you can simply withdraw your resolution to fix it for next year. If most everyone approves your resolution, it may fly through the conference.
This year’s three-day conference was held concurrently with the State Bar Conference in scenic Monterey. It started with what I like to think of as the “Parade of Nations,” each delegation marching in to the conference hall with its own theme music.
Obtaining conference approval is the third step. This part is the most fascinating but also terribly hectic. Resolutions are considered in rapid sequence, and it is literally a race to get your position heard. For the most debated resolutions, speakers run to separate microphones to wait in a line, six or more deep, to argue each side.
For each resolution, our delegation assigns at least one delegate to speak on behalf of the delegation. I felt honored to represent LACBA for one resolution. Sadly, my argument went down in flames. But that didn’t stop me from going back a few times to voice my individual opinion on other resolutions. In fact, probably like most attorneys, it just made me more anxious to figure out better ways to convince everyone that I’m right.
Assuming your resolution is passed at the conference, the final step is turning it into law (and, no, watching Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” is not mandatory). Larry Doyle explained that he first finds the right sponsor for each bill, and then they work the legislative process to get it to the Governor’s desk. While most bills get stuck in the system, the conference continually tries to improve California one resolution at a time.
Now that you know a little bit about the conference, come join us and bring your best proposals. LACBA, by its size, is allowed the most delegate seats, and we can make the biggest impact if every position is filled.
"First glimpse" submitted by Scott Luskin, member, LACBA Delegation. Luskin is an attorney with Payne & Fears LLP focusing on business, labor/employment, and insurance coverage litigation. He can be contacted at email@example.com or (213) 439-9911.