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In Search of… New SCCBA Leadership

Posted By Matthew H. Poppe, Monday, August 8, 2016

Despite summer being in full swing, the SCCBA is already looking ahead to who will lead the organization in 2017.  Many leadership opportunities are available to our members, but some require acting fast.  The rewards are great, so consider applying.  By becoming an Officer, Trustee, or Chair, you can gain a broader understanding of the structure and functioning of the SCCBA, directly affect its operations and strategy, work with lawyers from a wide range of practices and backgrounds, develop leadership and speaking skills, serve the community, and much more.


Officers:  President, President-Elect, Treasurer, and Secretary

The SCCBA has four officers—President, President-Elect, Treasurer, and Secretary—each of whom serves a one-year term.  Normally, only three positions are filled in a given year because the President-Elect automatically becomes President the following year.  However, this is an unusual year in which all four officer positions will be determined by an election.  Nominating petitions can be found on the SCCBA website and must be submitted by August 15, 2016.

Eligibility for an officer position requires having served in previous SCCBA leadership roles.  The specific qualifications are set forth in the By-Laws and vary from position to position.  For example, a candidate for President-Elect must have served in one of the following ways:  (a) as Secretary, Treasurer, or Executive Committee member for at least one year within the three years preceding the election, or (b) as a member of the Board of Trustees for at least one full term and as a member of the Finance Committee for at least one year immediately prior to being elected.

The qualifications limit these positions to a relatively small group, but they also provide a roadmap for those who may want to pursue these roles at a later time.


Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the SCCBA’s main policymaking body.  Each Trustee serves a two-year term, with a limit of two consecutive terms.  There are seven annual Board meetings, and Trustees may also be asked to attend special Board meetings or serve on Board committees.  The SCCBA President appoints five Trustees to serve with the four officers on the Executive Committee, which vets issues to be decided by the Board and handles emergency matters.

Any SCCBA member can serve on the Board, though each elected Board seat is specific to a particular geography.  Districts that have one or more Trustee seats open for election this year include San Jose (3), Palo Alto/Mountain View (2), Sunnyvale/Cupertino (1), Santa Clara (1), and Morgan Hill/Gilroy (1).  Nominating petitions can be found on the SCCBA website and must be submitted by August 15, 2016.

Committee/Section Chairs

The SCCBA has 14 committees that focus on issues like Diversity or Professionalism, and 8 sections with a subject matter focus such as Family Law or High Tech.  Each committee and section has a chairperson or a pair of co-chairs, each serving a one- or two-year term depending on the position.  Each committee and section has its own culture and each chair position its own set of responsibilities, but the duties generally involve leading committee/section meetings, helping to coordinate CLEs and social events, and motivating other committee/section members to get or stay involved.

Each chairperson is appointed by the President, with input from the outgoing chairperson and the SCCBA staff liaison.  If you have been active in a committee or section – and perhaps even if you have not – consider asking about serving as chair next year.


Membership on Special Committees

Several committees deserve special mention in that membership is limited and requires being appointed by the SCCBA President.  Service on these committees can be particularly interesting and rewarding due to the nature of the work they perform.

The Judiciary Committee conducts confidential evaluations of candidates whom the Governor is considering for appointment to the bench in Santa Clara County.  The committee usually has around 25 members appointed for one-year terms, though many members serve multiple terms subject to a term limit.  The two co-chairs serve staggered two-year terms.  Applications to join this committee will be available later in the year, but feel free to inquire now if interested.

The Judicial Assessment Committee was discussed at length in last month’s President’s Message. The committee reviews complaints and informational submissions about individual judges and oversees the implementation of a judicial assessment poll.  The committee includes four appointed attorneys, two of whom are appointed each year for a two-year term.

The Fair Election Practices Commission works to ensure that campaigns for judicial office and for district attorney are conducted in a fair and dignified manner, in accordance with the SCCBA’s Judicial Election Campaign Code of Ethics.  Whenever there is a contested election, the candidates are invited to sign a pledge to abide by the Code.  Doing so makes them eligible to be considered for endorsement by the SCCBA.  Signing the pledge includes a commitment to abide by decisions of the Commission regarding alleged Code violations, which are adjudicated in accordance with a set of written procedures.  The Commission includes ten appointed members and up to three alternative members.  They are not limited to SCCBA members but may also include judges, other lawyers, and community representatives.


ABA Delegate

The SCCBA is entitled to send a delegate to meetings of the American Bar Association, which typically occur twice a year.  The ABA Delegate position is coming open after being ably filled for several years by Bob Weeks, who received the SCCBA’s Salsman Award earlier this year in recognition for his outstanding service.  The ABA Delegate attends the ABA meetings, votes at the meetings on the SCCBA’s behalf, and reports back to the Board of Trustees.  The SCCBA provides a small stipend to help defray expenses.


New 2016 President-Elect

Due to a conflict, Nicole Isger resigned her position as President-Elect last month.  We thank Nicole for her years of valuable service to the SCCBA, and we are happy that she plans to stay involved in the SCCBA in other capacities.

The SCCBA By-Laws provide for the Board of Trustees to promptly select a replacement, and the Board carried out that responsibility last week.  Three candidates submitted their names for consideration.  After reviewing their written submissions and conducting a Q&A with each of them, the Board voted to select Kate Wilson, current Treasurer, as President-Elect for the remainder of 2016.  Per the By-Laws, because Kate was appointed, she will not automatically become President in 2017.  As noted above, the office of 2017 President will be one of the officer positions on the ballot for this year’s election.



If you have comments on this President’s Message, questions about SCCBA leadership positions or the selection process, or suggestions for the SCCBA on any topic, I encourage you to contact me at or (650) 614-7431.  Additional information is also available on the SCCBA’s website at

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