During my inaugural address at last September’s annual meeting, I asked our membership to take on issues involving the representation of our children in need.
There are more than 2.3 million children in the state of California living at or below the poverty level. There is no better group suited to advocate on their behalf than the attorneys of the State Bar of California.
Representing their interests in special education matters, the presentation of claims for insurance, health, SSI benefits and homeless issues can make a major difference in that child and their family’s lives.
Past State Bar president John Seitman warned me shortly after my address that something always seems to get in the way of an agenda set by the State Bar president. I remember wondering what could get in the way or be more important than representing the needs of our children.
Countless attorneys, bar associations and other professionals immediately responded to the challenge involving children at risk. Unfortunately, I quickly learned what John was talking about and how our goals could promptly be sidetracked.
Three weeks into my term, the bar’s fee bill (SB 1145) was vetoed, creating the greatest crisis ever to face the State Bar in its 71-year history.
Responding to this challenge has been the focus of every moment of my time, as well as that of the hard-working, dedicated members of the Board of Governors and our new executive director, Steve Nissen.
By the time this column gets to print, our emergency fee bill will have come to a vote on the floor of the Assembly.
In addition, my wife Erin and I will have completed another difficult undertaking, finishing the Los Angeles marathon.
Running the Los Angeles marathon with Erin afforded me an opportunity to spend time with her (which we rarely get these days) while training, contribute to a cause near and dear to our family, and revisit my agenda of helping children.
We ran the race to raise funds and promote awareness of the “Cure Autism Now” Foundation (C.A.N.), an official charity of the Los Angeles marathon that advances research seeking a cure for autism. Autism affects some 400,000 individuals in this country, including, as many of you know, our son Ben.
Our efforts prompted more than 3,000 letters soliciting support for our run on behalf of C.A.N.
American Bar Association President Jerome Shestack, a member of the Board of Directors of C.A.N., has a 5-year-old grandson with autism and has joined in the effort, sending out letters urging his colleagues to contribute to our cause. He even hosted a send-off party for us.
This summer we will be running in two other races — the American Heart Association’s Third Annual “Lawyers Have Heart” 5K Run in San Diego on June 18 and then in Sacramento on July 11 — to help increase the public’s awareness of the risks of heart disease and stroke.
There is always one more challenge and room for improvement. We can always do more — and be more efficient, more focused, more productive.