CEO & Executive Director

CLA Celebrates First In-Person Conference in Three Years

By Oyango A. Snell, Esq.

Earlier this year, we were not sure if the 2022 Annual Meeting, affectionately referred to as our “biggest event of the year,” would actually be big.

In 2019, over 600 attendees, speakers, and leaders gathered for a dynamic three-day event filled with networking opportunities, MCLE education, keynote speakers, and an unforgettable night at the Monterey Aquarium.

But then the global health pandemic sparked a series of changes. Over the course of three years, all of us witnessed a global movement emerging to eliminate racial and gender inequities. We saw virtual events become the norm, the boom of the 30-second dance routine through TikTok, and a change in leadership at CLA that would set the strategic direction for the future. What would an in-person Annual Meeting look like?

The CLA 2022 Annual Meeting made a comeback in San Diego in September—and it did not disappoint. Over 500 participants came together to network, learn new skills, and celebrate the California legal community.

We kicked off the Annual Meeting with an exhilarating discussion with premier sports agent, entrepreneur, and best-selling author Leigh Steinberg, and concluded with an opening night reception where we honored and celebrated champions in the legal community who are working to increase access to justice, diversity, and ethics and civility within the practice of law.

The second day commenced with a fireside chat discussion with CLA President Jeremy Evans and Heather Brooks Karatz, the former President of the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats and Executive Vice President of Growth and Operations at United Talent Agency. Heather discussed how she sought the opportunity to become a leader in sports and entertainment. Day two concluded with a collaborative celebration hosted by the New Lawyers, Solo and Small Firm, and Law Practice Management and Technology sections of CLA.

The final day featured a keynote address from Professor Jonathan Turley, a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory and tort law.

As a grand finale, CLA joined forces with the California Judges Association (CJA) to host the premier event of the year, the inaugural joint black-tie gala, which also featured over 500 participants.

This first-ever event served as a celebration of the California legal community and honored outgoing Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye for her judicial excellence, CLA’s Privacy Law Section for its exceptional innovation, Somita Basu with the Solo and Small Firms Section for her outstanding leadership, and the San Diego County Bar Association for their exceptional work to advance civics education and diversify the legal profession.

And now, we get to do it again September 21-23, 2023, in San Diego for the 2023 Annual Meeting and CLA/CJA Joint Black-Tie Gala. You will not want to miss it!

Oyango A. Snell is CEO and Executive Director of the California Lawyers Association.

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