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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 10, 2019


By Gabe Gregg                  2019 SCCBA President


 Hello Silicon Valley attorneys – I hope that everyone is having a great Summer!

As many of you know, our CEO, Chris Burdick, officially retired a few weeks ago, on June 14.  It had been her hope and intent to retire in mid-August, but this earlier retirement date was regrettably necessitated by her deteriorating health. 

Given Chris’s overwhelming importance to the SCCBA over her almost 30-year tenure, it seemed appropriate to dedicate July’s President’s Message to a summary review of just some of the notable achievements of the SCCBA, and Chris’s professional accomplishments, during her three-decades as our Executive Director/CEO.


  • 1990 - Implementation of the first voluntary bar association in country Modest Means Program (developed in 1989 by Karen Drury Russel under the leadership of then President, now Judge, James Towery).  This program is still in place.
  • 1990 - Implementation of one of the first minority law student clerkship programs in the country by a bar association – the Bay Area Summer Minority Clerkship Program (BAMSCP) (developed in 1989 by Chris Compton, partner at Wilson Sonsini under the leadership of then President James Towery).  This program is still in place.
  • 1992 - Publication of the widely recognized and acclaimed SCCBA Code of Professionalism, approved by the Santa Clara County Superior Court and Northern District of California (developed and written under the leadership of then President, now Judge, Brian Walsh).
  • 1993 – SCCBA participated in hearings and supported the City of San Jose creation of an independent citizen police commission to review excessive force cases, resulting in the creation of the Office of the Independent Police Auditor, still functioning today (leadership of then President Sam Polverino and Brian Walsh)
  •  1993 - Established the first LGBT bar association committee in the State of California to address issues of concern to LGBT attorneys, later incorporated into the SCCBA Diversity Committee.
  • 1993 - Established the first Diversity Committee to address diversity issues/involvement of minority attorneys in the SCCBA and the legal profession.
  • 1994 – Implemented the Barristers’ Leadership Program to introduce new attorneys less than five years in practice and/or under the age of 36 to the SCCBA, leadership, civility, and networking to encourage them to take leadership roles in the SCCBA.  This program is still in place. 
  • 1994 - Created one of the first Work-Life Balance Task Forces by a bar association and held a first day long conference (under the leadership of then President Kathy Meier).
  • 1995 – 2001 - Began working on implementing new technology for the SCCBA to better serve its members and prepare them for the future of technology in legal practice.  Among the highlights:

o   Board of Trustees developed its first strategic plan regarding technology and the SCCBA, which is still in place.

o   Established its first web presence in 1996.

o   Launched access to on-line, on-demand CLE program, first voluntary bar association in country to provide this service to members.

o   Developed the first customized, integrated (with website) on-line membership database and association management system, allowing attorneys to register for events on-line, see all SCCBA activities on-line, access the on-line on demand CLE programs – SCCBA was first bar association in country to do this and received national recognition and provide demonstrations nationally to nation-wide voluntary bar associations.

o   First voluntary bar association to convert to electronic communications, in 2000.

o   Created on-line pictorial search membership directory to replace hard copy directory in 2001.

o   Implemented a VOIP telephone system (first bar association in country to do so; early adoption of VOIP).

  • SCCBA has received numerous awards recognizing programs and efforts in diversity by the State Bar and nationally.
  • SCCBA received the ABA National Association of Bar President’s Award for Innovative Partnerships in establishing the Campaign for Silicon Valley in conjunction with the county’s legal services agencies (CSV fundraises and makes grants to the various legal service agencies to supplement their other funding).
  • Developed and released Position Statement on Independence of the Judiciary and SCCBA Opposition to Recall of Aaron Persky.
  • Opposed Prop 8 – ban on same sex marriage in California.
  • Participated in amicus briefs to legalize same sex marriage in California.
  • Developed a bias in the court's procedure in 1997 in conjunction with the Superior Court; the bias in the court's procedure was completely revised in 2018 and approved by the SCCBA Board and Superior Court to be implemented in 2019/2020.


  • Chair, State Bar Committee on Women in the Law.
  •  Member, State Bar Futures Commission on the Future of the Practice of Law in California.
  •  Member, Judicial Council Standing Commission on Access to the Courts, chaired the drafting group of the Commission for the first ever in the country report on Access to California Courts by Gay and Lesbian Litigants and Attorneys.
  • Member, Judicial Council Task Force on Fair Election of Judges in California; SCCBA was highlighted as a model with its Fair Election Practices Commission & Procedure, which has been in place for over 40 years as the oldest and most successful such commission in the country.
  • Member, State Bar Committee on Professionalism and Rule of Conduct (COPRAC).
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Lincoln Law School, Ethics & Professionalism; chaired the Faculty Committee and helped draft and implement student Code of Conduct and hearing process for complaints.


Some past Presidents of the SCCBA have shared their appreciative sentiments about Chris.

Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James Towery expresses the impact of Chris’s tenure as follows:  “Chris was a leader and innovator at the helm of the Santa Clara Bar Association.  She championed the cause of legal ethics and did a wonderful job raising the standard of lawyers in our county.  Under her leadership, the SCCBA gained a national reputation as one of the best in the nation.”

Dianne Sweeney, managing partner of Palo Alto Office of Pillsbury Winthrop, Shaw Pittman and community leader, comments: “For two decades, Chris has been a passionate voice of innovation, leadership, professionalism and unwavering commitment to the Santa Clara County Bar Association. Chris has inspired countless lawyers and judges to do more and reach farther—bringing so many of us together as professionals, as friends, as colleagues, as community leaders—she has made an indelible impression on my life and this legal community.”

Reflecting on Chris’s service to the SCCBA, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Julia Emede states: “Over her tenure, and in the face of rapidly changing technology and membership organization dynamics, Chris led the SCCBA through a number of reinventions at times when other bar associations declined or even ceased to exist.  Chris deserves great recognition and thanks for her visionary and tireless service and dedication to the SCCBA.”  

Incoming SCCBA President S. Michael Lee states: “Chris’ presence will be sorely missed.  She was a pillar of the legal community and strong ally in promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal community.  You always knew she would be there when it was time to open closed doors and break glass ceilings.”



As you can see, under Chris’s leadership the SCCBA has played a very significant and positive role in the Silicon Valley legal landscape and nationally.  I hope you will join me in thanking Chris for her astonishing contributions to our organization and our membership.


The SCCBA plans to honor and celebrate Chris Burdick’s service at an event or events to be announced later this year – please stay tuned!

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