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Welcome to 2018! I enter the New Year with gratitude and hope

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

By Kevin Hammon
2018 SCCBA President

My gray hairs have finally outnumbered my brown hairs.  The trunk of my car is still littered with Christmas paper wrapping.   My five-year-old son’s hand paintings adorn the walls, desktops, and floor of my office. I have practiced law for over ten years, but regularly feel overwhelmed by what I have yet to learn.  When I reflect upon my new role as president of the Santa Clara Bar Association, I vacillate between “we will change the world” and “do not screw this up.”

Fortunately, the SCCBA is in many respects a well-oiled machine.  I credit my predecessors and CEO Chris Burdick for creating an exemplary infrastructure.  MCLEs run like clockwork according to a schedule established in the beginning of each year.  The Lawyer Referral Service is carefully managed by SCCBA personnel, connecting potential clients to appropriate attorneys.  Events like the Diversity Committee’s Reception Honoring Unsung Heroes and Judges’ Night are consistently fabulous.  The SCCBA’s budget is closely monitored by the Finance Committee, an on-staff accounting manager, and an accounting firm.  I continue to be impressed by the SCCBA’s outstanding organization, programs, and services.  I am pleased to report that there is only minimal risk of a rogue president causing any major damage to the SCCBA.  

There is no need to radically revamp the SCCBA or reevaluate its mission. The challenge lies in getting the word out, so to speak.  I have been actively involved in the SCCBA in some capacity for most of my legal career, but even I am still learning about the organization. The SCCBA, like many non-profit organizations, is challenged by a lack of awareness on the part of its members regarding the extent of its programming.  The legal profession has become increasingly balkanized. In order to survive, we need to cultivate a sense of community.  This starts with me. It is imperative that SCCBA leadership accept the charge of learning and communicating to members about the SCCBA’s programs and services.  The SCCBA has approximately 3,000 members, 14 committees, and 8 sections and sponsors upward of 100 MCLE programs, events and receptions each year.  Regardless of your practice area or interests, the SCCBA inevitably has something to offer you.  More importantly, you have something to offer the SCCBA.  Last year, the SCCBA celebrated its 100th anniversary.  If we are to survive another 100 years, we need your ideas, perspectives, and passion.         

At the beginning of each year, it is customary for the incoming SCCBA president to identify a theme, project, or an area of emphasis.  I would like to focus on civics engagement for children and youth.  The need for exposing young people to basic legal concepts has never been greater.  I have enjoyed being a part of the SCCBA’s mock trial program since my high school years.  The American Constitutional Society and Constitutional Rights Foundation offer exciting and innovative lawyers-in-the-classroom programs that I believe are worth exploring.  There are opportunities to partner with the Santa Clara County Office of Education in order to better serve the next generation.      

I look forward to being a part of the SCCBA’s future, but I recognize I cannot do this alone. We have outstanding attorneys in Santa Clara County.  I have enjoyed listening to my father’s generation of attorneys.  I have learned from lawyers who have overcome remarkable odds to find success in the legal profession.  I have no illusions that I will inspire you to reimagine the law or learn something new.  Whether your hair is brown, gray, or anything in between, I hope to connect you to resources that will help you become a better lawyer and to support your ideas for improving our legal community. Ultimately, I hope you will consider me a friend- or at least someone who can help you wrap a holiday gift or get a good deal on children’s art.

I look forward to sharing 2018 with you. The SCCBA’s Installation Event & Reception will take place at the McManis Faulkner law firm on January 24, 2018 at 5:30.  I hope to see you there and at other events throughout the year.    

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