Report on the 2018 Conference of California Bar Associations in San Diego
by WLALA Board Member Shaun Dabby Jacobs
Have you ever thought “this law should be changed or amended,” or “it should not exist at all?” Have you ever thought “there ought to be a law about this” but when you researched the applicable legal authorities, you found no law existed that addressed the topic you researched? Do you enjoy debating policy and the law as well as meeting interesting people from across the state? Are you passionate about the State of California and improving its laws? Well, you’re not alone.
Every year, delegates from local, specialty and minority bar associations throughout the state gather together to discuss how to improve California law at the Conference of California Bar Associations (the “CCBA” or “Conference”), which is held in a different location each year. This year, the Conference was held from September 14-16, 2018, in San Diego, and WLALA sent three delegates – Shaun Dabby Jacobs, Farah Tabibkhoei, and Andrea Schoor.
During the Conference, delegates from various bar associations debate proposed revisions and amendments to California law, called “resolutions.” Once the Conference passes a resolution, CCBA’s lobbyist, Larry Doyle, takes the resolution to the State Legislature or California Judicial Council to find a sponsor. Together, Mr. Doyle and the sponsor then lobby to get the resolution passed into law. CCBA’s success rate, due largely to the hard work and talent of Mr. Doyle, representatives of CCBA, and the dedicated sponsors who support CCBA’s resolutions, is impressive.
Typically, the Governor signs into law approximately 20 bills that the CCBA has proposed and/or sponsored. The bills cover a wide range of topics. For example, one of the resolutions WLALA sponsored in 2016, was passed into law at Code of Civil Procedure section 2016.080. This resolution relates to motions to compel further responses to discovery and is something the Los Angeles Superior Court wanted to see passed. Previously, some of the Los Angeles County superior courts offered parties the option of coming before the Court for an informal discovery conference before filing a motion to compel. Informal discovery conferences are an effective way for judges to consider discovery disputes and attempt to resolve them without the hundreds or even thousands of pages included in motions to compel.
Because there was no rule permitting courts to hold informal discovery conferences, WLALA’s delegation submitted a resolution to the Conference, and it passed. Assemblymember Ed Chau, introduced it as Assembly Bill 383 and Governor Brown signed it into law in 2017. WLALA was an integral part of the legislative and amendment process.
Continuing WLALA’s efforts to improve the discovery process and make it more efficient, at this year’s Conference, WLALA successfully sponsored a resolution to amend the California Rules of Court to provide for the electronic exchange of discovery requests and responses. This resolution is important to the bench and practitioners because it will allow parties to more easily prepare responses to discovery and the separate statements in connection with motions to compel because the attorneys and/or their staff will not have to retype the requests and responses. It will also help judges evaluate the merits of the parties’ positions when the judges conduct Informal Discovery Conferences (which WLALA helped enact into law) because they will be able to see the requests and responses in one document, rather than needing to flip between documents. WLALA’s resolution, as well as all of the 105 resolutions that were submitted by all the different bar associations are at CCBA’s website at www.calconference.org.
It is not too early to start thinking about resolutions to submit for next year’s Conference, which will be held from October 11-13, 2019, in Monterey, California. Although the final deadline to submit resolutions to CCBA is March 1, 2019, if you want WLALA to sponsor a resolution, WLALA’s delegation chair, Shaun Dabby Jacobs, (firstname.lastname@example.org) needs it by December 31, 2018, to give WLALA sufficient time to complete its vetting process.
We ask and encourage anyone who has an idea about how the law could be improved, wants to attend next year’s conference, or who has an interest in getting involved in either CCBA or WLALA, to reach out to Shaun, Farah or Andrea to discuss joining the WLALA delegation and attending next year’s Conference in Monterey.
To see the resolutions that were debated at this year’s conference go to CCBA’s website at www.calconference.org.