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by Nikki Presley Miliband
The Orange County Bar Association Charitable Fund has a decades-old history of contributing to access to justice and encouraging participation in the legal community in Orange County. And our members—past, present, and most assuredly future—deserve an enormous round of applause and our gratitude. Without all of you, the good work of the Charitable Fund would not be possible.
In the mid-1980s, the OCBA formed what was then known as the Orange County Bar Foundation (OCBF) to be the charitable giving arm of the Bar. Over the years, the OCBF began focusing on providing youth-orientated programs for children at risk in our community, and transitioned into its own 501(c)(3) corporation, now known as Project Youth. In the 1990s, the OCBA formed OCBA ACTS as the Bar’s charitable giving arm, which many years ago became the OCBA Charitable Fund. Through it all, the members of the OCBA have supported the law-related charity work of the Bar through contributions of time, energy, and of course, money.
To be sure, Orange County has no shortage of law-related charities, all of them worthwhile entities doing important work for our community—Public Law Center, Constitutional Rights Foundation, Veterans Legal Institute, Legal Aid Society, Project Youth, and the list continues. The OCBA Charitable Fund has itself transitioned over the years from creating and running programs, such as Project SELF (which is now being successfully run by Project Youth), to providing scholarships to recent law school graduates studying for the bar exam, to being the equivalent of a “United Way” for law-related charities, with two primary fundraiser events each year: the annual Judge Kenneth Lae Charity Golf Scramble and the annual fall benefit. We recently successfully completed the golf tournament at the Newport Beach Country Club and are now gearing up for our annual fall benefit—Raise Your Glass—which will be held on August 23rd, also at the Newport Beach Country Club.
Many of you may remember the annual fall fundraiser back in the 1990s—Crystal Casino—a black-tie event at Crystal Court, South Coast Plaza (one of my first dates with my husband). Later, the OCBA Charitable Fund hosted a number of themed events, including an 80s theme in 2011. For the past six years we have hosted a very successful wine tasting event called Raise Your Glass. Against a backdrop of wine tasting from several wineries and distributors, there is an abundance of amazing food, a silent and live auction, and an opportunity to visit and network with friends and colleagues with over 300 attorneys regularly in attendance.
Through the two fundraising events each year, the OCBA Charitable Fund has raised and distributed to various law-related charities over $1.7 million (which does not include the amount distributed by the OCBA LRIS), with just this past year distributing $205,000. We could not do this important work if not for our members and the support of Orange County’s most prestigious law firms that regularly sponsor our events. Each year, the OCBA Charitable Fund recognizes and acknowledges one of Orange County’s law firms for its continued and unwavering support of not only the Charitable Fund, but the community. This year, we will be honoring Knobbe Martens. We will also be presenting a corporate award to CHOC and a community service award to four of the domestic violence programs supported by the Charitable Fund: Chapman University Fowler School of Law Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic, Human Options, Laura’s House, and Women’s Transitional Living Center.
The OCBA Charitable Fund is near and dear to my heart, having been one of my first opportunities with the OCBA. I have had the honor of serving on the Charitable Fund’s Board of Directors, and have chaired or co-chaired the annual fall benefit since 2008. This year, as President of the OCBA, I stepped down as chair of the event, leaving it in the very capable hands of Mei Tsang of Umberg Zipser (an OCBA and Charitable Fund Board member) and Todd Friedland of Stephens Friedland (an OCBA Past President, Charitable Fund Past President, and current Charitable Fund Board member)—although old habits die hard, so I am still actively participating in the planning process.
There really is nothing better than enjoying fun events with friends and colleagues while knowing that you are assisting so many members of our community to access justice who, without your generosity, would be shut out from that which we all take for granted. Tickets are already on sale for Raise Your Glass and it will be an amazing event. Don’t delay—buy a ticket (or become a sponsor), help the community in which you live and work, and get ready for some serious fun. I hope to see you all there!
Nikki Presley Miliband is the OCBA’s 2018 President. Nikki is also a probate and trust litigation partner at Good Wildman in Irvine. She can be reached at email@example.com.