History

The Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association is widely regarded as one of the most illustrious and influential legal organizations in California. At its first meeting at the Blue Dolphin Restaurant in San Leandro on June 23, 1970, its organizers envisioned an organization that would serve the trial lawyers in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties through education, networking, business development, and liaisons with the local judges and courts as well as other bar associations.

To bridge the gap between past and future, ACCTLA’s Board of Governors includes 25 practicing trial attorneys and all of its past presidents. ACCTLA is proud to include among its Board members and past presidents some of the most widely respected trial attorneys in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, including a number of attorneys who were also president of the state-wide trial attorney organization Consumer Attorneys of California (formerly known as California Trial Lawyers Association).

ACCTLA has always advocated for its members at the local, state, and national levels. For example, in the “tort reform” era of the 1980s, our president was extremely involved on both the state and national levels in helping defeat tort reform attempts in the mid-1980s.

We have always been ready to lend a helping hand to the local courts. ACCTLA was instrumental in instituting a sixty-lawyer volunteer team to serve as settlement commissioners and judges pro tem in Alameda County. For the first time, Alameda County Superior Court’s calendar backlog cleared, ending the era of frequent five-year waits for a trial date. At the same time, our members successfully advocated for changes in the courts. For example, members of ACCTLA used their influence to persuade Alameda County to comply with federal Americans With Disabilities Act access laws by bringing the Alameda County Courthouse in compliance without litigation.

ACCTLA has developed successful educational programs for its members, including larger educational programs in partnership with the other regional trial lawyer groups in California. For example, in the past seven years, ACCTLA has twice given its members a chance to hear noted jury consultant David Ball speak on trial techniques that win even in the modern “Tort Reform” Era.

In 1992, ACCTLA launched its mentoring program. That program has received many favorable comments from judges and other attorneys regarding its impact on legal education of the trial bar.

In 1997, the Board of Governors hired Patricia Parson to become the full-time Executive Director of ACCTLA. Ms. Parson has been instrumental in improving and streamlining ACCTLA, and her dedication, organization and vitality continue to be a driving force in our organization’s success.

The benefits of membership in ACCTLA include:

  1. The members-only Listserve where members of the plaintiff’s bar can share information in confidence about experts, trial theory, defense tactics, etc.
  2. The Verdict magazine sent to all members and judges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
  3. The mentoring committee to help new attorneys with guidance from “seasoned” attorneys.
  4. Educational seminars – ACCTLA provides numerous seminars throughout the year on various topics. “What’s New in Tort & Trial” is given annually by trial attorneys throughout the state and is always a sell out!
  5. Social Functions – Each year, ACCTLA honors one outstanding judge from each of our home counties- Alameda and Contra Costa- in a gala event we call “Judge’s Night.” The event attracts political figures as well as judges from Alameda County, Contra Costa County, the Court of Appeal, the federal district court and the California Supreme Court. ACCTLA also hosts a reception/cocktail party in Alameda County and Contra Costa County in honor of each of the Trial Judges of the Year selected at Judge’s Night.
  6. The ACCTLA website where members are listed by name and practice area for referrals from other members and from the general public. Members can also find useful links and browse our calendar of events.

Through the abilities, energy and spirit of its esteemed leadership and active membership, ACCTLA has withstood both the test of time and significant challenges. ACCTLA continues to be one of the most influential legal organizations in California, both through its collective activities as an organization and the stellar individual legal work of its accomplished members. The past leaders of ACCTLA have laid the groundwork for the new generation of members to be justifiably proud of its historic accomplishments, and to continue its legacy and success for many years to come.