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by Michael L. Baroni
Thank you. It has been an incredible honor to serve as your president. Humbling and priceless. Theologian Arthur C. Custance stated, “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” That is certainly true of my feelings as my presidential journey ends.
For thirteen years, my OCBA activities have been a labor of love. I’ve savored every step of my “adventures in the law,” knowing that I am endlessly blessed by my interactions with all of the astoundingly talented, caring, interesting, zealous, and principled people I have met along the way. (And none of it would have been remotely possible without the faithful, patient, and loving support of my wife, Lisa—thank you, my precious companion.)
A Year of Soaring Success
2017 was marked by success for the OCBA:
Your Board at Work
The OCBA Board was extraordinary: an absolute dream team for me as president. They are collegial folks with character and compassionate zeal in their hearts. We worked with dedicated diligence and stamina into many late nights, discussing a vast array of topics, from genocide legislation to bar exam scores.
Human Trafficking Task Force
With devoted chairs Jennifer Tennant and Jessica Springer, and an energized committee, we launched successful CLE events, collected a truckload of necessities for over fifty human trafficking survivors, launched an awareness campaign to the sections, and partnered with the Angels baseball team in their Strike Out Slavery event. (Thanks to Susan Kang Schroeder of the District Attorney’s office for connecting the OCBA with this major event.)
As lawyers, we must do a better job of caring for one another. Our profession is highly hazardous to one’s health—with higher rates of suicide, heart attacks, depression, alcoholism, divorce, and health ailments linked to stress and exhaustion. The OCBA 2017 task force, Amicus Alo, was formed to assist lawyers with mental and emotional wellness, disabilities, substance abuse, and serious illnesses. Thanks to Chair Shirin Forootan’s fiery passion for the cause, and a devoted committee, we had a powerful launch event, produced successful CLE programs, published an informative web page, and spread outreach to law schools.
Happy ten-year anniversary as OCBA Executive Director, Trudy! And congratulations on your new title as CEO! The board, past presidents, and OCBA staff came out en masse to celebrate Trudy’s superlative leadership. Trudy’s multi-faceted excellence is outstanding, as is the talent, kindness, and work ethic of OCBA staff—including Dennis, Shannon, Carole, Andrew, Grace, Michelle, Leanne, and Jane. Each and every member of the staff deserves recognition for the OCBA’s operational excellence.
As OCBA President, I also sought to expand the OCBA’s reputation and goodwill, by reaching out to all Orange County police chiefs, elected officials (congressional representatives, Board of Supervisors, Assembly members, etc.), and community leaders. All of them were interested to learn about the OCBA’s excellence and influence, and were keen on wanting lasting connections and synergies.
Civility. Inclusion. Tolerance. Anti-Discrimination/Bias. I pray we can all practice these values with kind hearts and noble intentions. We are only made strong if we focus most on the shared values that bind us. This year, I have endeavored to bridge gaps in understanding and appreciate differences in opinion within the OCBA. As we move forward into 2018, I hope different groups continue to work together for the benefit of our entire community.
There is a timeless saying: “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I hope to have done justice to that saying, to the benefit of all within the OCBA. All of you certainly have left me in a better place, and I thank you for it.
Michael L. Baroni is the 2017 OCBA President. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.