by Michael R. Dennis, 2018 SCBA President
Well, Stanislaus County, you’ve gone and done it. You’ve elected (anointed) me your President. Some will cry, “Fools!” but others shall shout, “Genius!” History, (not my wife), shall decide. I believe that I’m the 4th attorney from Crabtree Schmidt to hold the title, so there’s a legacy at stake during my reign.
People often ask me, “Why should I join the SCBA? I can just get my MCLE credits online.” To answer that question, as above, let’s let history decide. Last year alone, members could’ve attended Law Day, and heard California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger discuss the 14th Amendment. Members could’ve attended the Bench-Bar Dinner, and listened to Sherman Kishi, a local Japanese Internment Camp survivor, share his haunting, firsthand experience. Then, there was the Golf Tournament where scholarship money was raised for local students. This was all on top of such events like the evening welcoming new attorney’s to our fold. Then, one had the opportunity to learn from former and current members of our local Bench who taught classes during MCLE lunch programs. At these functions, one had no choice but to meet fellow attorneys practicing in every legal arena and at all levels of experience.
One can only learn so much from taking a class on the internet taught by somebody you’ll never know who works in a city you will never see. There is nothing like meeting and talking to real people from your own legal community. These people have tackled every legal issue and dealt with every sticky courtroom situation. These people are the ones you’ll need favors from when you screw up, and who will take you out for drinks when you triumph. They’ll be your opposing counsel on Monday, your co-counsel on Tuesday, and your mediator on Wednesday. The knowledge to be gained from being a member of the SCBA is immeasurable. Additionally, sometimes it’s just plain fun. Sure, being a member of some civic organization might offer a better opportunity to gain clients. But, being a member of SCBA will allow you to better serve those clients. Your client might need your help drafting a contract today, but what do you do when they need a family law attorney tomorrow?
If you’re reading this, then you know that the best and brightest attorneys in California are all practicing right here in Stanislaus County. Our local branch of the American Inns of Court has repeatedly stomped Stockton’s team in Legal Jeopardy. (Though last year there was an upset.) Therefore, contact the SCBA and volunteer, or get a friend to volunteer, to present an MCLE class on a topic that interests you. I guarantee that if you’re interested in it, so is somebody else.
I moved to Modesto back in 2004 as a brand new attorney. At the time, there were many of us in the same boat: new to the law, and new to town. When I now look around the table at SCBA Board meetings, I see those same faces. But this time, we are partners in firms or founders of our own firms, senior level District Attorneys, and most recently, a judge.
It’s like in the old Wild Kingdom television shows, (brought to you by the good people of Mutual of Omaha), where the young lions have taken over the pride. Well, Stanislaus County, that is where we sit. The young lions are in control, new blood has taken over, new traditions are being created, and we are in for an exciting year. For example, the SCBA is going to hold a debate for the candidates for District Attorney, but you have to be a member to attend. It’s going to be exciting, and you’re going to want to be a part of it.
All you have to do is join!