In January, I officially assumed the office of President of this organization at our annual Installation Luncheon. I kicked off the year with a talk about hope and optimism. I spoke of goals and dreams and challenged each of you to look into your past to a younger, more idealistic version of yourselves, to pick out a dream, large or small, and to try to achieve it.
I suggested that none of us should simply accept difficult circumstances as the norm; that we should always hope and strive for something better, despite what bitter truths we may think we have learned in the past. And I said that if all else failed, we could at least feel better about ourselves and our circumstances by reminding ourselves of some small thing that we value in each day of our lives.
A year ago, we were still coming out of the Great Recession. Home values were still greatly depressed. Joblessness was high. Cuts in court funding left us in doubt about whether we would have much of a justice system in the future.
I don’t know how it seems to you, but to me, our outlook seems much brighter now. Have all of our problems been solved? No. We have seen improvement—large in some areas, small in others. But our feeling about ourselves seems much better. We have, at least, the hope of improvement and the belief that improvement is possible.
In this past year, I have come to know more of you than I did before. Yet, still I have the sense that of our 1,700 members, no more than half are very active in our bar or get anywhere near the value out of it that is there to be had.
In my year I have:
- Given my talk to about 100 of you at the Installation Lunch and was thrilled to see the rapt attention you gave to our newest California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu as he told us about the court and his new position on it.
- Helped in the formation and implementation of the Discovery Facilitator program.
- Attended many solo section breakfasts and broke bread with my fellow early risers.
- Sat next to Willie Brown and fumbled through the gavel-passing ceremony with our new Judge, Judy Johnson.
- Spent many a deadline-pushing evening crunching out these columns.
- Played softball with Judges Austin, Becton and Goode.
- Met regularly with Judges Austin and Goode to discuss ideas to help our members in their trial practices.
- Presided over board meetings where difficult public policy positions were debated and much, much more.
All of these things have enriched me. And the beauty of it is, they are experiences that any one of you can have too, if you decide to make the most out of your membership and pursue a position in leadership.
This organization can be as meaningful to you as you want. Or it can just be the organization to which you mechanically pay dues.
A few weeks ago, I was privileged to be invited to attend a reception for our past Presidents—even though at that time, it was a bit premature and I was only a half-past President. About 30 past Presidents attended, the most senior being Ken Larson, who served as bar President in 1967! It was a night of good cheer. I was regaled with stories from the past—both recent and remote—about the colorful figures who have peopled the history of our local legal community. If nothing else, the treat of seeing how our 50- to 70-year-olds looked 20 and 30 years ago with their dark, curly hair and mustaches was a delight. And each person there was enthusiastic in expressing their enjoyment at being able to attend.
I am sure that my term will have about as much lasting impact as one of these columns. But I hope that those of you who were there to start the year with me took my call to heart and made this your year of optimism too, and that it was as rewarding to you as mine was to me. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
In addition to serving as CCCBA’s President this year, Jay Chafetz has a solo practice in Walnut Creek and specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse, trust and estate litigation and general civil litigation.
Filed Under: President's Message