by Deirdre M. Kelly
“Beer is made by men, wine by God.” ~ Martin Luther
Please join us for a heavenly experience at OCBA Charitable Fund’s annual wine tasting event and fundraiser, “Raise Your Glass,” on October 28, 2021 at the Newport Beach Country Club (NBCC). We will be showcasing fabulous wines from multiple wineries. Come learn about, and taste, these incredible wines while reconnecting with your long-lost, pre-covid attorney friends! In prior years, we have had 350-400 attendees from the bench and bar! We will also have a live auction featuring exciting trips, a silent auction, delicious food, great music, and our now famous “wine wall” where you can purchase opportunity tickets to blindly (adventurously) pull a wrapped bottle of mystery wine from our wall. Additionally, we will be honoring Brown Rudnick LLP as the law firm of the year, the Honorable Franz Miller (Ret.) as the individual of the year, and Ford Motor Company as the corporate partner of the year, for their commitments to the OCBA and the legal community. In the spirit of caution during COVID-19, NBCC has two large outdoor patios attached to the main ballroom (whose doors will remain open) for those who would prefer to socialize outdoors.
What is the OCBA Charitable Fund and Why Should I Support It?
Hint: You are a nice, giving person who cares about your community and/or you like wine.
The charitable giving arm of the OCBA is the Orange County Bar Association Charitable Fund, a separate 501(c)(3) entity dedicated to improving the Orange County community and legal profession by facilitating access to justice through grants to pro bono legal providers and legal related charities. In 2019 (pre-covid), the Charitable Fund awarded $222,000 in grants to seventeen worthwhile pro bono legal providers and/or legal related charities providing much needed legal services to the underserved populations in Orange County. In fact, during its existence, the Charitable Fund has awarded grants totaling nearly $2 million to pro bono legal providers and legal related charities, and over $3 million if you include the funds raised through the OCBA Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS).
How does the Charitable Fund provide these grants? By the funds raised at two signature events, the annual Kenneth Lae Golf Tournament (usually held in the spring) and the annual fall gala, the Raise Your Glass event.
In 2020, Raise Your Glass was a virtual event. Although very successful considering the times, the amount raised was significantly less than in prior years, making this year’s event crucial in order to continue supporting the work of our many worthwhile grantees.
Who Have the Grantees Been in the Past?
The OCBA’s mission is “To Enhance the System of Justice, To Support the Lawyers Who Serve It, and To Assist the Community Served By It.” The Charitable Fund supports the programs and organizations who “assist the community served by it” through its grants. In prior years, the Charitable Fund has awarded grants to the following organizations:
California Youth Connection CYC
Creating Leaders From Within
Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law
Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic
Collaborative Courts Foundation
Orange County Participant Assistance Program
Community Legal Aid SoCal
Legal Aid in Action to provide direct legal assistance to homeless individuals in Orange County
Concordia University Irvine
United We Stand: Civility, Citizenship & the Constitution
Constitutional Rights Foundation—Orange County
Project: Civic Education
Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Mentor Advocate Program
Elder Law & Disability Rights Center
Senior Legal Clinic and Homeless Citation Legal Clinic
Family Legal Assistance at CHOC Children’s
2019 HEALTH Initiative: Helping Expand Access to Lawyers, Treatment & Healthcare
Legal Advocacy Program
Legal Advocacy Program
OCBF Project Youth
Orange County Justice Fund
Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership
OC Grip Foundation
Public Law Center
Orange County Expanded Domestic Violence Assistance Program
University of California, Irvine School of Law
Pre-Law Outreach Program (POP)
University of California, Irvine School of Law
Saturday Academy of Law (SAL)
Veterans Legal Institute
Pro Bono Veterans Legal Mobile Clinics
Women’s Transitional Living Center (WTLC)
Survivor Immigration Legal Services
Who Are the Honorees for the Night?
Brown Rudnick LLP: The OCBA Charitable Fund’s Law Firm of the Year award is being presented to Brown Rudnick LLP. In 2013, the Orange County boutique business litigation firm of Rus, Miliband & Smith combined with Brown Rudnick, an international law firm with 250 lawyers based in Boston with offices on the East Coast, London, and Paris, creating a West Coast presence for the firm. Brown Rudnick not only continues, but has enhanced, the forty-six-year-long commitment to community service and charitable giving in Orange County, started when Ron Rus formed the Rus, Miliband & Smith predecessor firm in 1975. For more than twenty-five years, the firm has supported and continues to support the efforts of the OCBA and its Charitable Fund.
Not only has the firm produced two OCBA Past Presidents, Joel S. Miliband (2000) and Cathrine M. Castaldi (2008), but other members of the firm also participate in and have led the various committees and sections of the OCBA, and always generously contribute to the OCBA’s Charitable Fund. Brown Rudnick has also forged a vehicle to advance its pro bono efforts by the creation of the Brown Rudnick Center for the Public Interest. The Center champions, coordinates, and celebrates its public interest work in each of its offices, and Orange County is no exception. Through the Center, Brown Rudnick has guided many fledgling nonprofit organizations from start-up to success, has staffed dozens of legal clinics with its lawyers advising the homeless, has helped scores of out-of-work people in hard times to obtain their unemployment benefits, and has assisted dozens of people staggering under crushing debt to secure the protection of personal bankruptcy. Brown Rudnick has secured voting rights, and gone to shelters and soup kitchens, administrative agencies and commissions, small claims court, and the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of its pro bono clients. With its rich tradition of giving back and unflagging support, the OCBA Charitable Fund is pleased to present this year’s Law Firm of the Year Award to Brown Rudnick.
Hon. Franz Miller (Ret.): The OCBA Charitable Fund’s Individual Award is being presented to Judge Franz Miller (ret.). Judge Miller started his legal career in 1974, worked as an assistant public defender until 1983, then was in private practice until 1989, followed by thirteen years as a senior staff attorney at the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three. Judge Miller was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court bench in 2002, and served in that capacity for sixteen years, with his time equally divided between the Family Law Panel and the Civil Law Panel, where he also served a term as Supervising Judge. Since leaving the bench, Judge Miller serves as a neutral on the panel at JAMS Orange County, conducting mediations and hearing arbitrations. Judge Miller is also a past OCBA President (1997), and was President of OCBA ACTS (Attorneys Contributing to Society) in 1998, predecessor of the OCBA Charitable Fund.
Judge Miller has been a long-time supporter of the OCBA’s Charitable Fund. He has generously donated some of our more spectacular wines for the Raise Your Glass auction, and last year—during the worst of the pandemic—calculated the amount he would have given as an endowment (contemplated several years ago) and donated this amount—greatly assisting the pro bono and giving efforts of the OCBA Charitable Fund during a very trying year. Judge Miller exemplifies the values represented by the Charitable Fund’s Individual Award.
Ford Motor Company: The OCBA Charitable Fund’s Corporate Award is being presented to Ford Motor Company. Since 2011, one of our past grantees, the Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP), has partnered with the Ford Motor Company and its employees to provide students across Orange County with resources and support to encourage them to make education a priority in their lives. In the most recent year, 2020, 55 Ford employees volunteered their time working with 98 Orange County Deputy District Attorneys to prevent crime by mentoring 130 students across 13 schools. Over the past ten years, hundreds of Ford employees have made a difference in the lives of hundreds of students. During three mentoring sessions through the fall and winter, Ford mentors share with students potential career paths and goal-setting strategies. The focus is on encouraging students to thrive and continue to pursue education. At the end of the sessions, students earn a field trip to the Ford office in Irvine if they show improvement in their academics, attendance, and attitude. The OC GRIP and Ford mentorship program is a fine example of local companies giving back to their communities.
How Do I Sign Up and/or Sponsor?
After this difficult past year and a half, and the financial impact on our community and the legal organizations we support, now more than ever, we need all of you to help raise the funds to support the programs mentioned above and make this year’s Raise Your Glass the best yet. Please join us on October 28, 2021, to support these causes and celebrate our honorees (and to drink divine wines). Register today at www.ocbar.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 949-440-6700. See you there!
A special thank you to my Raise Your Glass Committee Co-Chairs, Nikki Miliband and Christina Zabat-Fran; our wine committee co-chairs, Howard Privette and Kate Corrigan; our silent auction committee co-chairs, Carley Millian and Kristen Spada; Scott Garner, this year’s Charitable Fund President; and all of our sponsors and underwriters, especially our Champagne Sponsor, Garcia & Artigliere. In addition, a big thanks goes out to the efforts and support from the Charitable Fund Board of Directors; the OCBA Board of Directors; OCBA Past Presidents; the OCBA CEO/Executive Director, Trudy Levindofske; Associate Executive Director, Carole Martinez; and the OCBA staff. Without their tireless help and support, this event could not happen.
Deirdre M. Kelly was the 2019 OCBA President, the 2020 OCBA Charitable President and is a co-chair of the 2021 Raise Your Glass event. She is a former business litigator and is the Assistant Dean for Career Development and Externship Director at Western State College of Law.