ACC Focus on the Southern California Chapter - 09/12/2008 (Plain Text Version)
Forgive the cliché, but this year flew. As I write my final newsletter as President, I reflect upon this great organization’s accomplishments and I marvel that ACCA-SoCal’s products and services were created, distributed, marketed and organized by volunteer in-house attorneys.
“Volunteerism” means the willingness of people to work on behalf of others without being motivated by financial gain. As President running an all volunteer organization, I learned first hand the essence of volunteering. Our in-house attorneys’ unparalleled motivation, despite work and family commitments, is mindboggling. It is awe-inspiring to watch people associated through a common purpose (in-house practice) work collectively towards providing outstanding value, products and services to the Southern California legal community.
So what motivates? Why volunteer? Simply, it’s rewarding! Volunteering includes: assisting those not as fortunate, meeting new and interesting people, developing innovative solutions, learning cutting edge legal concepts, visiting new places and acquiring new skill sets. During my term, the mystery of volunteerism became much clearer. I am convinced that volunteering is one of the most personally rewarding acts a person may do with his or her time.
This year’s volunteer board has several directors terming out after six years of dedicated service: Mark Harrington, Jonathan Block, April Ammeter, Ajay Patel, Phil Maynard and Joe Craciun. These folks epitomize the ultimate volunteer. I applaud their efforts and thank them for teaching me the power of volunteerism!
I am very proud of the accomplishments of this year’s volunteers with their ground breaking “firsts” – Street Law Program; Salary Survey; international head of state guest speaker at the annual gala dinner (Prime Minister Tony Blair); Internet marketing video; retention of a CPA and professional marketing firm, and first time venues (L.A. Lakers game at the Staples Center, Luxe Hotel, Pageant of Masters, Fox Studios back-lot and the upcoming Marina Del Rey harbor cruise).
I would be remiss if I did not thank our venerable law firm and vendor SPONSORS who worked closely with our volunteers to bring these events to fruition. Our sponsors are listed on our Web site. I strongly recommend getting to know our sponsors as they are not only a veritable knowledge center but a great reference and networking resource.
A hearty thanks to my officers and board members. Their leadership and counsel were invaluable. A special “thank you” to our new administrator, Betty St. Marie, who stepped into her new position without missing a beat.
I am pleased to welcome the new officers for 2008-2009: Renee Benjamin (President), Bernard Gaffaney (Vice President), Bill Harn (Vice President), Pam Washington (Treasurer), and Annie Krikorian (Secretary). I have every confidence that this strong and capable team will lead our organization to even greater heights.
As my term comes to a close, I am reminded of the patriot Nathan Hale’s final words before being executed as a spy by the British in 1776: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Similarly, I regret I have had only one year to lead this great organization, but it is time to move on and let others with fresh ideas and energy propel ACCA-SoCal to the next level. Throughout my term, I met so many interesting people, learned so much and have experienced a lifetime of lasting memories. I thank each one of you for allowing me this very humbling and gratifying experience.
Be safe and profitable.
SAVE THE DATE! Street Law Training September 15th
Starting in September, ACCA-SoCal will be working with Street Law, Inc., the University of Southern California School of Law, Foshay Middle School and Dorsey High School to teach a curriculum from the award-winning Street Law Program (www.streetlaw.org). This will be a reprise of last Fall's highly successful program, which was featured in the film at the Chapter's Annual Gala Dinner. The Fall of 2008 presents us with an opportunity to expose the students at Foshay and Dorsey to the practice of law.
The kick-off meeting for the Street Law Program will be held on September 15, 2008 in Room #7 of USC's law school from 6pm to 8pm. At this meeting, we will finalize the fall Street Law class schedule and assign duties to the attorneys and law-student participants. Please bring your ACCA-SoCal friends with you to assist in one of the most rewarding programs on our schedule. Parking will be available for Street Law volunteers in the University's Lot X, shown on this map . If you cannot attend the kick-off meeting but would still like to participate, please contact Michael-Bryant Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE! DoubleHeader® at Marina del Rey Harbor on October 2nd
Blackjack or Busted: How Unclear Contract Clauses Can be a Crapshoot
Please join ACCA-SoCal and Paul Hastings for a special DoubleHeader® Dinner Cruise in Marina Del Rey on Thursday, October 2nd. The Program, focusing on good contract drafting, will cover the necessity for clear drafting of contracts, recent noteworthy transactions, drafting and negotiation issues, Delaware courts' analysis of drafting, and potential pitfalls. It’s a "must" for all transactional lawyers.
Registration begins at 2:30 and the program runs from 3:00 to 6:00 with the Dinner Cruise boarding at 6:45. The program is FREE to ACCA-SoCal members. Please see the flyer for details and sign up online but hurry, the program is filling up fast!
SAVE THE DATE! ACCA-SoCal’s Tenth Annual Charity Golf Classic, October 13th
ACCA-SoCal’s Tenth Annual Charity Golf Classic at the magnificent Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes is set for Monday, October 13, 2008! This event is one of the highlights of our year, especially for golfers!
Check in early for with coffee and pastries. The putting contest begins at 9:00 a.m. and the tournament’s shotgun start will be at 10:30 a.m. A sumptuous lunch will be provided on the course. Cocktails, dinner and awards will begin around 4:30 p.m.
Each player will receive a golf shirt, hat, towel, balls, “opportunity” drawing tickets, and other promotional items on the day of the event. There will be plenty of on-the-course contests and beverages available too!
The proceeds from the tournament and sale of additional Mulligan packages, “opportunity” drawing tickets, etc. will benefit our designated charities.
So how do ACCA-SoCal members get to play? The easiest way is as an invited member of one of our sponsor foursomes. Alternatively, you can watch for the “Upcoming Events” announcement and register on line through THRIVA. Whether you play golf or not, our Tournament Committee will place you in a sponsor’s foursome on a first come first served basis. The cost is only $100, a bargain at twice the price! The cost includes greens fees and the cost of lunch, dinner, cocktails, and drinks. Non-golfers, spouses, and significant others are invited to attend the hosted cocktail reception and dinner for $50.
Opportunity to Donate Promotional Items
The Tournament Committee also welcomes promotional items and prizes for our charity drawing. We have promotional shirts, logo’d golf balls, caps & towels already covered by our major sponsors. Should your company have any interest in providing other promotional items (e.g. logo’d tee sets, ball markers, first aid kits, lunch bags, sunscreen, golf gloves, etc., - sorry no food or beverage items), we will need a quantity of 144 in order to cover all participants. “Opportunity” drawing prizes are most appreciated and a grateful “donated by…” recognition for each item will be given at the event. If your Company can help out, please send a note to Joe Craciun at Money Mailer (email@example.com) our coordinator for promotional items and to Julie McKinney at Pacific Life (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is coordinating prize donations.
"ACColades: A Salute to Women Who Inspire Us" Inspired Us All
On June 26, 2008, ACCA-SoCal and the law firm of Hogan & Hartson co-hosted the 5th annual “ACColades: A Salute to Women Who Inspire Us” reception to honor two Southern California women. One woman is a pioneer in the world of medicine, the other is a leading light among nonprofit organizations helping women. The two women were honored because their vision and entrepreneurial spirit have truly made a difference in the lives of Southern Californians.
The 2008 honorees are Raquel D. Arias, M.D., Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Dean Educational Affairs – Keck School of Medicine and Judy Vaughan, founder of Alexandria House in Los Angeles.
The invitation-only reception was held at Fox Studios in Century City. The evening’s activities included a tour of the historic and exclusive studio lot as well as a guided tasting of some unique beers from around the world. Visitors were shown the outdoor set of the Fox show “House,” as well as the Upper West Side street set of “How I Met Your Mother” (shot by Fox for “another network”) and “Bones.” The beer tasting featured concoctions that stretched the definition of “brew.” One beer favored by a board member was packaged in a champagne bottle. Another beer preferred by an editor was proudly labeled “Skullsplitter.”
ACCA-SoCal president, Zachary Zaharek, and Hogan & Hartson Managing Partner, Neil O’Hanlon, welcomed the more than 100 guests to hear the inspirational stories of the two honorees.
A one-time San Joaquin Valley farm worker at a peach cannery, Dr. Arias is now one of the most distinguished physicians in the state. Her progression from her isolated rural childhood to the highest ranks of medicine was made possible through “a patchwork of state and federal programs.” In her speech she thanked the various people who made her education possible and reminded us that no matter where we come from, we can achieve our dreams. And when we do, it is essential to give back so that others may find their inspiration and achieve their dreams as well.
Sister Judy Vaughan is the Founding Director of Alexandria House, a nonprofit transitional residence and house of hospitality providing safe and supportive housing for women and children in the process of moving from emergency shelter to permanent housing. Her speech urged the audience to give back to their communities because communities don’t ask for help easily. Sister Judy spoke about some of the women who have passed through the doors of Alexandria House and said that, in honoring her, the honor is bestowed upon the countless women who have shown strength and courage as they fought to regain their lives. Sister Judy was presented with a donation for Alexandria House given by ACCA-SoCal and Hogan & Hartson.
Also in attendance were three former ACColades honorees, Holly J. Mitchell, Debra Yang, and Audrey Irmas. Past ACColades honorees have included Audrey Irmas, philanthropist; Jamie McCourt CEO & President of the Los Angeles Dodgers (2007); Vivian Clecak, founder of Human Options; Christine Devine, Fox 11 news anchor (2006); Debra Yang, former U.S. Attorney; Dr. Tanya Tull, founder of Beyond Shelter (2005); Holly J. Mitchell, CEO of Crystal Stairs; and Iris Rideau, owner/founder of Rideau Vineyards (2004).
If you missed it this year, we look forward to seeing you at next year’s ACCOLADES!
Awardees, Sponsor and President Planning Committee Attending Board Members
Special Program at Morton's Steakhouse a Delicious Success!
ACCA SoCal’s May DoubleHeader®, sponsored by Buchalter Nemer, focused on litigation best practices for in-house counsel. The program covered how to:
In addition, the WSR Consulting Group, LLC advised counsel on the selection and use of expert witnesses. More practically, WSR provided a useful check list on what to look for and the best way to utilize expert witnesses.
This well attended program was held twice: first in Orange County, then later in Los Angeles County. The educational portion of each program was followed by memorable dinners and desserts at Morton’s Steakhouse. Attendees networked, had fun and learned something new.
Most captivatingly for attending counsel, the program featured advice from several currently sitting judges: the Hon. Andrew J. Guilford (USDC) for the Los Angeles County and Orange County programs; the Hon. Geoffrey T. Glass (OCSC) for the Orange County program; and the Hon. Lee Smalley Edmon (LASC) for the Los Angeles County program. The judges’ comments were both insightful and funny.
California’s New Hands-Free Law - Employers’ Potential for Liability
By John Zaimes and Rania Afram
Employers whose employees use cellular phones for work purposes while driving should take note of California’s new hands-free cell phone usage law. The California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act, which took effect on July 1, 2007, prohibits drivers from using a handheld cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle, unless the cellular phone is configured to allow hands-free listening and talking.
Employers should consider taking a number of precautionary steps to minimize exposure from an employee’s improper use of a cellular phone while driving and conducting company business. At a minimum, employers should inform their employees about the new law. In some instances, it is advisable for an employer to provide its employees with hands-free devices to enable them to comply with the new law.
Litigation Involving an Employee’s Use of Cellular Phones
Employers in California and other states have already faced lawsuits when their employees have been involved in car collisions while allegedly using their cellular phones for work purposes. In California, for example, a construction firm was found negligent when one of its employees, driving a company car and dialing his cell phone, hit another driver. The award was $950,000. A stock brokerage firm was sued for negligence when one of its stockbrokers hit another driver while talking on the cell phone with another stockbroker. The firm settled the action for $1.1 million.
In Virginia, a law firm was sued for $30 million in a wrongful death action when an associate of the firm was conducting business on her cellular phone when she killed a 15-year-old. A jury ordered the associate to pay more than $2 million in damages to the victim’s family. The law firm settled before trial for an undisclosed amount.
In Georgia, a paper and packaging company settled for $5.2 million when one of its employees injured another driver while driving and talking on her company-supplied cellular phone.
Considerations for Employers
To help minimize their exposure to potential liability and to strengthen their defenses should a lawsuit arise, employers should consider taking the following steps:
• Inform employees, in writing and in meetings (for which attendance records are kept), about the new law and insist on compliance, particularly if using a cellular telephone for company business;
• Incorporate a clear policy statement concerning the new law in employee handbooks and training materials and document employee awareness of the policy;
• Provide training on cellular phone safety, including a discussion of potential hazards and risks;
• Post information in employee breakrooms;
• Provide headsets for employees who regularly use cellular phones for business purposes;
• Include special instructions or a warning sticker on all company-issued phones stating that their use while driving is against the law, unless accompanied by a headset;
• Require employees who get reimbursed for business calls to certify that they have not violated the company’s cellular phone usage policy;
• Inform employees that they can be personally liable for violations of the new law;
• Enforce the new policy by incorporating a disciplinary procedure for any employee who violates the employer’s new policy (i.e., warnings and discipline up to and including termination).
These actions impose relatively minor costs and burdens on employers compared to the litigation exposures that could arise down the road.
Mr. Zaimes is a partner in the Los Angeles Office of Reed Smith and has extensive litigation and counseling experience in labor and employment issues. Mr. Zaimes can be contacted at (213) 457-8029 or email@example.com.
Ms. Afram is an associate in the Los Angeles Office of Reed Smith. Her practice focuses on employment discrimination, wage and hour litigation and commercial litigation. Ms. Afram can be contacted at (213) 457-8022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-House Connections: Finding the Perfect Life
Yes Virginia, there is life after In-House practice!
On July 23rd the ACCA So-Cal In-House Connections Committee hosted its annual program and networking event at the Luxe Hotel in West Los Angeles. Sponsored by Robert Half Legal, the event drew more than 100 attendees who were treated to cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a light dinner while they connected with other ACCA-SoCal members and guests on the hotel’s beautiful outdoor patio before the program began.
The program, titled “New Beginnings: Is There Life After In-House Land?” offered two hours of MCLE credit, including the often hard to get substance abuse credits. The program kicked off with a panel moderated by the committee’s Chairman, Stuart Pardau, titled “Count Me Out: In-House Attorneys Who Have Pursued Other Careers”. Attendees heard from six current and former in-house attorneys who are pursuing alternative career paths including a part-time in-house lawyer that writes and publishes legal thrillers, a General Counsel that is also an amateur comedian and an ordained minister, a former in-house counsel who is now a rabbi, a former General Counsel who moved to the business side and is now the President and Chief Operating Officer of a company, a Superior Court Judge who has practiced both in-house and in private practice, and a former General Counsel who is now a partner in a law firm.
Later in the evening, Sean Carter, legal humorist and founder of Lawpsided Seminars, tackled the sobering topic of substance abuse with a healthy dose of humor, providing witty advice on how to reduce and avoid stress and identify the warning signs of substance abuse. All in all... an excellent program.
DoubleHeader® Pageant of the Masters a Masterpiece
The winning streak continues! Our summer DoubleHeader® program sponsored by Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear LLP was sold out over a month in advance. The event, held on July 31st in Laguna Beach, consisted of 3 hours of MCLE about IP issues relating to recent U.S Supreme Court cases, mergers/acquisitions and best practices. One highlight of the MCLE program was Knobbe’s discussion of Harry Potter and the Fair Use Doctrine.
After the program, over 50 in-house attorneys enjoyed a steak and lobster dinner and drinks on the rooftop of La Casa del Camino In Laguna Beach overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more perfect view! And for those attendees in LA who didn't want to drive to Laguna Beach, our gracious sponsors arranged for a limo service so that they, too, could attend the event and do so in style.
After dinner, the evening continued at the Pageant of the Masters where this year’s theme was a recreation of Shakespeare’s “All the World’s a Stage”. And thanks to ACCA-SoCal member, Roger Kempler, the evening didn’t end after the show. Roger, whose daughter participated in the Pageant this year, was able to obtain 10 backstage tickets for the first 10 members who signed up for the event.
11th Annual Diversity Reception a Success
Pamela Washington and Peter Chun
ACCA-SoCal, the California Minority Counsel Program, and Morris Polich & Purdy LLP hosted the 11th Annual Diversity Reception on September 10th at Kyoto Grand Hotel's Terrace Garden. Over 100 attorneys representing the diverse backgrounds of the Southern California region enjoyed an evening of networking, socializing, music and fun with the backdrop of the beautiful terrace gardens and downtown Los Angeles.
The highlight of the evening was the introduction of a new diversity initiative - ACCA-SoCal‘s "Profiles in Diversity." This year the Profiles spotlight was on John Gatlin, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Nestle USA, as an example of the person envisioned by the Profiles criteria, of an in-house counsel that embodies the principle that diversity works, makes sense and is beneficial to society as a whole. He is an individualwith a diverse background that has demonstrated high quality, skill and knowledge in the practice of law. Mr. Gatlin provided inspirational and insightful remarks based on experience gained during his illustrious career to reception attendees that joined in a memorable celebration of diversity.
The program included remarks by outgoing ACCA-SoCal chapter president Zachary Zaharek, incoming president Renee Benjamin, past president Vincent Gonzales, chapter Treasurer and Diversity Committee Co-Chair Pamela Washington, law firm sponsor Morris Polich & Purdy LLP represented by Richard Nakamura, and co-sponsor California Minority Counsel Program represented by Tara Bedeau, the new Executive Director of CMCP. The evening was a great success.
Member Spotlight: Pro Bono Pays!
ACCA SoCal Director Ajay Patel – who works in-house for Sony Media Software and Services – is being recognized for his contributions to the community. Ajay has been named the recipient of the 2008 California State Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award in the Corporate Category!
As chair the Pro Bono Committee, chapter members have witnessed firsthand Ajay’s tireless dedication to providing pro bono legal services to the poor and underserved communities in Southern California. Ajay has been instrumental in putting together opportunities for members to give back to their communities through such worthwhile programs as Adoption Day, Street Law, LA Works Day and Habitat for Humanity.
Ajay will be honored at this year’s State Bar Annual Meeting on Friday, September 26th, in Monterey, California. Chief Justice Ronald M. George and the State Bar President Jeff Bleich will be participating in the awards ceremony.
Member Spotlight: Board Member Volunteers During Her Vacation to Armenia
Most of us would like to spend our vacations in exotic locations and most of us would like to devote some time to doing pro-bono work and giving back to our communities. Board member Annie Krikorian combined both by working at an orphanage in Armenia.
For her three week vacation this year, Annie played games, taught English and did some fundraising for the Zatik orphanage in Yerevan, Armenia. Her charges were mid-teen girls at a state run institution. The facilities, like Yerevan, were surprisingly Western. “They were like any modern city in Western Europe,” reports Annie. She found that the girls knew more about America than she did about Armenia and peppered her with all sorts of questions.
The assignment was arranged for her by the Armenian Volunteer Corp., an organization that she joined online. She funded the travels herself and found the experience even more rewarding than she expected. Staying in a small homestay near the orphanage, she used the opportunity to practice her Armenian and to get in touch with her heritage. She plans a return trip as soon as she can arrange it.
Except for the part about losing luggage (advice: pack a carry-on overnight bag), she would recommend the experience to everyone.
A UCLA/Pepperdine Law graduate and SoCal native, Annie joined the Guitar Center soon after graduating from law school. Her experiences have included a brief stint working at Ernst & Young in Stuttgart, Germany and the law firm of Walker Morris in Leeds, England where she picked up a love of tea scones.
ACCA So-Cal Crosses the Pacific to Open a New Chapter in the Philippines
The ACC was welcomed in the Philippines on August 13, 2008. ACC member Vincent Gonzales introduced the ACC to a rapt audience of around two dozen local in house counsel. The event was hosted as part of an after-work cocktail reception at the newly refurbished offices of Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleone and San Jose of Makati City.
Vincent’s presentation began with a brief history of ACC and how it began with a meeting of several general counsels in 1982. He then described ACC’s various resources, advocacy efforts and educational programs, including chapter events. The presentation included several photos from the ACC Annual Meeting in Chicago as well as from ACCA-SoCal events such as its Annual Gala Dinner.
After the presentation, the attendees were received at a cocktail and networking activity. Vincent was asked by a number of attendees about how to form an ACC chapter in the Philippines, and how to organize and present educational programs. The attendees were encouraged by the news that ACC was already in the process of applying for certification as a Philippine MCLE provider. As with all ACC activities, everyone learned something and had a good time.
The evening’s attendees were primarily from large multinational corporations with offices in the Philippines. These included counsel from, among others, IBM, Pfizer and Citibank.
Vincent is a former President of ACCA-SoCal and has been appointed to the Board of Directors of ACC. Going forward, he is continuing his work with the ACC national committee to encourage and support the formation of an ACC Philippines chapter.
ACC would like to thank Mel Macaraig and his partners at the law firm of Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleone and San Jose for hosting the ACC program.
New Member Profile: Mireya Llaurado, Corporate Counsel, FedEx Express
Looking for a change of pace, SoCal employment attorney Mireya Llaurado dropped herself into the high-speed practice of FedEx Express. "During my first week orientation, I took a tour of a FedEx station and rode-along with a courier. I learned so much about the business and our employees’ positions," she explained. "Things moved so quickly that by the end of the day, I was exhausted. I didn’t even complete a full shift on the road. The courier job is tough, and I admire our couriers so much!"
Mireya (pronounced "Mir-ray-a") is one of five California-based attorneys in the employment litigation department of FedEx Express. (FedEx Express is the express delivery arm of the FedEx family of companies). FedEx Express litigates almost all of its own employment cases. Mireya’s department manages claims of alleged wrongful terminations and fair employment throughout California as its own in-house law firm. Her work includes motion practice, court appearances and attendance at mediations. Coming from the employment practice in the Los Angeles office of Sedgwick, where much of the work was in state court, she enjoys managing her case load, most of which is in federal court.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Mireya moved to Southern California for high school and college, and then attended law school at Georgetown. She clerked for DC Superior Court Judge Cheryl M. Long, before moving into private practice in Washington and then returning to the West Coast. She moved in-house so that she could "focus on litigating cases without the administrative burden of billable hours." She also enjoys the opportunity to learn different parts of the business.
When not at work, Mireya enjoys tennis, Pilates, the beach and wine tasting. She loves to travel and visit her parents’ homelands (Spain and New Zealand), and she just returned from a trip to Grand Cayman.
Mireya joined ACCA-SoCal at the urging of her FedEx Express colleagues. She has attended the monthly multi-venue meetings and looks forward to attending other ACCA-SoCal events.
Welcome New Members!
Welcome our new members who joined May through August this year:
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