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CHRIS BURDICK: A LEGACY OF SUCCESS AT THE SCCBA

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.

NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS OF SCCBA SINCE 1990

  • 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.

 NOTABLE PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS OF CHRIS BURDICK

  • 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.

SELECT ACCOLADES FROM PAST SCCBA PRESIDENTS

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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The Bench and The Bar – A Strong and Collaborative Relationship

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 4, 2019

 

The Hon. Deborah A. Ryan  Presiding Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara

 

It was with great pleasure that I accepted President Gabriel Gregg's kind offer to write a guest column for the Santa Clara County Bar Association because it affords me the opportunity to reflect upon the strong and collaborative relationship that the SCCBA and the Santa Clara County Superior Court have enjoyed over the years. The SCCBA has always encouraged volunteerism to assist the court and the bar members have always responded by embracing that call.  I write this having been a part of the equation for the past forty plus years, with the first 22 years as a lawyer and bar association member and the last 19 as a judicial officer. While clearly so much has changed over the years, (I believe when I began the practice of law, we did not even use fax machines), the collaboration, relationship and spirit of volunteerism between the bench and the bar has remained intact.

 

In reviewing the guest columns written by past Presiding Judges Lucas and Pichon over the last few years there was a clear focus on budget issues that contributed to a loss of resources and a reduction of service. While we as a court and a branch are still underfunded, I am pleased to say that we continue to work with the judicial council, the governor and our legislators to remedy that situation. The May 2019 revision to Governor Gavin Newsom's budget (which still needs to be passed by the legislature and may well have by the time this goes to press) contains modest good news for the judicial branch.  There is increased funding including additional funding for 25 new judgeships, an increase in the cap on trial court reserve funds from 1% to 3%, funding  for the continued expansion of interpreter services in civil cases and to cover the additional costs in criminal cases, an increase in federal funds for court-appointed dependency counsel, additional funds for staff to help maintain trial court eligibility to collect federal reimbursements, an additional one time funding in the equal access fund to provide legal aid to renters in landlord tenant disputes and funds for the courts of appeal to address increased workloads and costs. These increases support the goal of the judiciary to provide equal access to justice to all.  These statewide changes may not translate into specific change for our local court in every area, but they will help to relieve the pressure we have experienced in attempting to provide high levels of service to the public with decreased funding. It is critical that we as a bench and bar continue to talk to our local legislators, who have been helpful in the past by recognizing our needs and how the lack of funding impacts the public that we all serve, and encourage them to continue to support adequate funding for our courts.

 

Our new case management system, Odyssey, which many of you know from the civil, family and traffic divisions of the court has now been implemented in our criminal division. As with any introduction of a new system, there have been challenges, but we are hopeful that when it is fully implemented we will see efficiencies and economies that will enable us to continue our efforts to reduce backlogs and provide improved pubic service. Our court recognizes that reduced funding has impacted all court users and we will continue to strive to lessen that impact as we move forward.

 

We are pleased that with assistance from the County of Santa Clara, we have been able to increase our self-help center hours to a full five days a week. Through the diligent efforts of its supervising attorney, Fariba Soroosh, and the excellent attorneys and staff working in self-help, we have been able to reach more self-represented litigants who need assistance and have expanded our advice and assistance in the fast-growing area of probate.

 

There is an important and substantive manner in which SCCBA members can continue to support and assist the court: volunteering for our temporary judge program. We are actively recruiting members of the bar with ten years of experience (an exception in some instances can be made to this requirement) who are interested in serving as a temporary judge in a number of areas. We are especially in need of temporary judges willing to serve in traffic and small claims. Benefits of choosing this type of public service include; an opportunity to make important decisions that impact lives and to determine if you like judging, a chance to serve the public and do much needed pro bono service for the court and free mcle credit when you take the necessary training. If you are interested, please see the court’s website for additional information about applying for the program.

 

Before I conclude, I want to offer thanks on behalf of myself personally and the court to the SCCBA’s Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel, Chris Burdick, and to wish her well in her upcoming retirement. For the past 29 years, Chris has been tireless in her dedication to serving Santa Clara County’s legal community and the public.  Her guidance and wisdom have helped to make the SCCBA an organization that is recognized for its excellence both at the state and national levels.  Chris is an institution and she will be missed. I know the search is on for her successor and all of us at the court look forward to forging the same type of bench/bar relationship that we have had under Chris’s leadership.

 

While the years ahead will undoubtedly continue to bring challenges to the practice of law and to the court system in general, we can rest assured that our bench and bar will be standing together to weather these challenges. I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this tremendous legal community.

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Building A Community

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 1, 2019

 

By S. Michael Lee      SCCBA President-Elect        Attorney, Procopio

 

It's 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday night and I'm drafting a President's Message after sending my youngest child to bed. I think to myself that I could be watching TV or getting ready for bed myself.  After a long day of writing, researching, meeting with clients, going to court, billing, sorting paperwork and doing the hundreds of tasks that we lawyers do every day, it's tempting to say that we are too busy to participate in groups like the Santa Clara County Bar Association.  But all I have to do is remember my sleeping son, to know that I do have the time and that what we do is absolutely worthwhile.  

 

Organizations like ours, and good people like you, help ensure that our daughters and sons have access to mentorship, equal opportunities for advancement, and more equal pay. Organizations like ours, and people like you, work to ensure that our children may someday be able to live in a color-blind, gender-blind, orientation-blind society - that may not be perfect - but is better than what it was when we first entered into it. Together we provide a counterweight to the rhetoric of intolerance and bigotry that has gripped public dialogue in recent years.  

 

Bar participation has its immediate rewards as well. In Santa Clara, we build a community where some associations only make "contacts." Through branch organizations like our family law practice group, the diversity committee, and the women lawyers, our professional networks become social networks and vice versa.  

 

There will be a lot of changes in our bar association over the next few months and years as we transition into a new era of leadership. Chris Burdick will be retiring this year after years of leading the core of our organization. As incoming president, I hope that you will join me in creating a bar association that will add value to our lives and the lives of our children as they join us in the ranks of professionals serving our community. 

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Spring At The SCCBA

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 4, 2019

 

By Gabe Gregg                  2019 SCCBA President

 

 

Happy April everyone!


For this month’s President’s Message, I wanted to take the opportunity to remind you of all of the ways that you can participate in the SCCBA.


With regard to specific events and activities, we have a particularly rich and packed calendar over the next few months. Following are certain notable events that you should strongly consider attending:


When Bankruptcy Collides With Family Law Seminar 4/30/2019
Fifth Annual Law Day Mixer 5/1/2019
2019 Unsung Heroes Awards 5/8/2019
Returning Children Under International & Interstate Laws Seminar 5/10/2019
Save the Date: Women Lawyers Spring Symposium (Formerly Lean In) 6/13/2019


Here’s the SCCBA’s full calendar of events.


With regard to more general opportunities for participation, there are many ways to expand your involvement, including the following:

 

  • Join one or more of our 6 practice-area sections (Family Law, High Technology, Insurance Law, Labor & Employment, Real Property and Women Lawyers) and consider joining the section’s executive committee.  SCCBA sections information and sign up form can be found here.
  • Join one or more of our 14 committees, which include Civil Practice, Diversity and Professionalism, to name just a few.  Information on SCCBA committees can be found here. Go to the committee page you are interested in where you can ask to join by clicking the Join this Group at the menu item at the top of the page.
  • Consider applying to be a Trustee for 2020 on the SCCBA Board of Trustees (BOT).  Following changes over the last couple of years to the SCCBA By-Laws, our 17-person BOT is now composed of (i) 4 SCCBA officers; (ii) 3 SCCBA committee chairs (Barristers, Diversity and Women Lawyers); (iii) the immediate past-President (non-voting); (iv) the Presidents or designees of Santa Clara County minority bar associations, including Asian Pacific Bar, Black Lawyers and La Raza Lawyers; and (v) 6 At-Large Trustees elected for staggered 2-year terms.  Three of the At-Large Trustee positions will be coming vacant for 2020.  If you are interested in applying for one of these Trustee positions, look for the applications online from July 15, 2019 to August 15, 2019. 
  • If qualified, consider running to be a SCCBA Officer (Secretary, Treasurer, or President-Elect); qualifications for officer positions can be found in the SCCBA By-Laws, Article IV, Section 8.

Your membership and participation (along, frankly, with your dues) is what sustains this vital organization.  Please come and join us and learn, or remind yourself, of all of the important work that is being done by the SCCBA, including the following:

 

  • Our social events and MCLE seminars and brown-bags is a great way to learn and network.
  •  Our Center for Ethics & Professionalism is a key source for ethical attorney guidelines and developments.
  • Our Judiciary Committee evaluates judicial candidates for our Governor.  Governor Newsome just released the judicial application and explains his administration’s judicial appointment process.  See the new judicial application process description and judicial application.
  • Our Fee Arbitration Program provides a trusted forum for fee disputes.
  • Our Lawyer Referral Service provides referrals on cases and matters to local vetted attorneys.

  • Our website provides informed referrals to ADR practitioners and judicial profiles.

  • We provide representatives to the ABA and California State Bar, and we review and comment on State Bar rules and opinions.

  • And we advocate for you in many other ways including taking public positions on important issues impacting our membership.

We look forward to seeing you soon! In the meantime, I wish you all a cheerful and rewarding Spring.

 

 

 

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A Spiritual Crisis In Our Legal Profession

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 7, 2019
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2019

 

By Chris Burdick                 SCCBA CEO & General Counsel

 

[Editor’s Note: This article is an adapted version of remarks by SCCBA CEO & General Counsel, Chris Burdick, at the Installation Ceremony/Reception for the 2019 SCCBA Officers & Trustees.]

I want to thank our 2019 SCCBA President, Gabe Gregg, for his generous invitation to share some thoughts about the legal profession. First, I hope you will indulge me for a momentary diversion.

As many of you know, the now Honorable Jim Towery was SCCBA President in December 1989 when the SCCBA was hiring a new, then, executive director. Jim was a significant reason for my accepting the position. I decided that if he was representative of the attorneys in leadership at the SCCBA, it would be a terrific job. As it turned out, Jim was representative of the attorney’s active in the legal community and SCCBA.

I want to publicly thank Jim for his exuberance for the SCCBA and for the many opportunities I have had as a result of his pushing some doors open, opportunities that allowed me to represent the SCCBA locally, statewide and nationally. Most importantly, Jim has been an amazing mentor and friend, who I have always counted on to tell me the unvarnished truth and give me his sound advice and he has. Thank you, Jim.

A spiritual crisis in our legal profession exists and has existed in the legal profession for a number of years. Indeed, the profession may be in danger, and many already be in the process, of losing a soul it has embraced for nearly as long as there have been lawyers in this country. I don’t mean a spiritual crisis in the religious sense. I mean “spiritual” in the sense of having a deep connection with the essence of being a lawyer as opposed to being a legal technician proficient in the everyday practice of law. That internal sense or expectation that being a lawyer is a higher calling, a higher endeavor than merely a way to earn a good living, or gain influence or advance political agendas.

It’s that sense that lawyering is about the public good, about contributing to the fabric of our democracy, sustaining the rule of law and preserving individual liberties. That is the spiritual dimension to which I refer. That is what distinguishes American lawyers from lawyers in other countries and what makes our democracy unique.

It’s this sense of having a higher calling that initially motivated lawyers to organize. Attorneys as individuals cannot fully meet that expectation. But coming together as a group expands the capacity to meet that expectation, gives it intensity and emotion and helps lawyers generate ways to meet the expectation. In addition to which our unique training gives lawyers a singular kind of insight, a certain wisdom, judgment and prudence that the public has always relied on lawyers to meet.

We used to call ourselves “lawyers and Counselors at Law.” It’s an ability to counsel that comes from possessing a trait of character that is only acquired by being a person of good judgment, by being able to balance conflicting interests and needs. These are the traits that have been and remain a significant part of being an attorney. Lawyers develop these traits as we study the law and better understand the significance of being an integral part of the judicial system.

Because being an attorney is not just a job, it’s a way of life; a way of life that has a soul evidenced by the emotional and intellectual intensity that comes with being part of a higher calling. A type of soul sustained by reaching for the loftier values of acting in the public good.

And, these values must be attended to or we stand in danger of losing them. But, not nearly enough attorneys acknowledge this essential character trait openly enough or place as much value in them as we have in the past. [Click here for the full post]


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more Calendar

12/13/2019
2019 Annual Family Law Holiday Luncheon

Recent Recognitions
Constance L. Carpenter2018 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year
Jenn M. Protas2018 Diversity Award

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