The Barristers Club in 2021

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The Barristers Club in 2021

Jessica Ryland

Jessica Ryland

Founded 94 years ago, the Barristers Club has a long and proud history within the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF)—not only for fostering the professional growth of newer attorneys but also for incubating new programs and initiatives designed to increase access to legal support and the legal profession.

Over this past year, the global COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our lives and isolated us from one another personally and professionally. However, true to tradition, the Barristers Club met the challenge of distance with innovation, by capitalizing on the lack of geographical barriers to broaden the reach of our program audiences. Despite the distance, we promoted equity and inclusion within our profession and provided innovative opportunities to connect with one another in a time of physical separation.

This year, as president of the Barristers Club, I hope to carry out my 2021 initiatives through the end of this pandemic while taking with us the lesson that we should always strive to reimagine what it looks like to offer professional development opportunities to our members.

Despite the distance, we promoted equity and inclusion within our profession and provided innovative opportunities to connect with one another in a time of physical separation.

The Barristers Board’s initiatives this year will build on the work of past presidents as well as expand into new territory by focusing on meeting the professional needs of a fast-growing group of Barristers: in-house attorneys.

The following highlights a few of our focus areas for 2021:

To start, we are continuing the work of Immediate Past President Kelly Matayoshi, Farella, Braun + Martel, by transforming the Racial Justice Initiative she started into a permanent board-level Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by Diversity Directors Sydney Allen, Long & Levit, and Cristina Piechocki, Littler Mendelson.

The committee will focus on providing programming for a number of initiatives, with a subject matter focus falling within the broader diversity and inclusion umbrella. These initiatives will be chosen annually by the committee’s executive committee (ExComm) members, a process designed to allow for a varied focus and to reflect the needs over time of our broader Barristers membership. We are currently recruiting ExComm members for our committee, and I ask Barristers Club members to get involved and help lead the charge in offering programming for a more inclusive legal profession.

This year, we are also continuing our commitment to leadership training for Barristers through our Professional Development Section as well as by offering new 'stepping stone' leadership pathways within the Barristers organization itself, starting with the Law Student Committee and our Ambassadors Program up through section and Board leadership.

Lastly, we will seek to engage a fast-growing group of newer attorneys that has not been well-represented within the ranks of our Barristers membership: in-house counsel. As more attorneys migrate to in-house positions earlier in their careers, we likewise strive to adapt to provide relevant programs suitable to meet the changing professional development needs of these in-house attorneys.

To that end, we have formed an In-House Advisory Committee, made up in-house attorneys, BASF and non-BASF members alike. The goal of the advisory committee is two-fold: (1) to increase in-house Barristers engagement and membership through meeting the professional needs of younger in-house attorneys; and (2) propose program ideas to the Barristers Board for in-house attorneys.

In-house attorneys interested in joining our monthly Advisory Committee meeting, please contact acolemanlevy@sfbar.org. Please also fill out our three-minute survey to tell us more about the programs relevant to you!

As a Barrister, whether you are a law student or a newly-minted partner, whether you are working remotely from your hometown or here in San Francisco, take a look at the variety of programs the Barristers Club offers and get involved! I encourage anyone interested in a leadership position to reach out and join us in our pursuit of supporting our fellow members of the legal profession with continued thoughtfulness and innovation.


Jessica Ryland is serving as the 2021 Barristers Board President. Originally from Virginia, Jessica graduated from USF School of Law in 2012 and started her career as a civil defense litigator before transitioning to an in-house role in 2018. Today, she is Senior Counsel of Safety & Insurance at Uber, where she oversees outside counsel in all 50 states.

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