I attended my first Conference of Delegates as a BASF delegate in 1978, and I attended conferences yearly over the next decade, eventually becoming chair of the BASF delegation.
Back then the conference was a function of the State Bar of California. Like so many delegates, however, I lost my enthusiasm for the conference when the state bar, in compliance with Keller v. State Bar, 496 U.S. 1, placed restrictions on what issues could be considered at the conference.
Thankfully, in 2002 an agreement was reached to sever the conference from the state bar, and the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA), which does not derive any of its funds from mandatory state bar dues, was born. I then rejoined the BASF delegation and have attended CCBA conferences ever since.
I am a devotee of the conference, and some readers may ask why?
I can think of many reasons.
First, the work of the conference is important. Each year the conference approves resolutions that make up the CCBA’s legislative agenda for the following year. In 2016 alone, over 20 bills signed into law were based on CCBA resolutions.
Second, participation is intellectually stimulating. Each delegate studies, debates and votes on more than 100 resolutions each year at both BASF delegation caucuses and at the conference. Almost all delegates have the opportunity to argue in favor or against resolutions in front of colleagues, and also to lobby other delegations to support BASF’s position on resolutions. This is a great advocacy experience for young lawyers.
Third, I have met many of my attorney friends through the conference and have enjoyed many fine experiences (including late-night poker sessions) with colleagues from both BASF and throughout the state. Is it too crass to mention that several delegate/friends have referred clients to me?
Learn more about the BASF delegation and find out how to join us at ccba.sfbar.org.