HISTORY

History

During its first meeting on June 23, 1970, the founders of the Alameda-Contra Costa County Trial Lawyers’ Association 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.  Over the last 50 years, ACCTLA not only realized our founders’ vision, but has also become a leader among California TLAs in their commitment to addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the bar and bench.  This vision was codified in ACCTLA’s by-laws in 2019, and will remain a core value of the organization for the years to come.  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 many who have also served as President of our state-wide trial bar, the Consumer Attorneys of California (formerly California Trial Lawyers Association).

Throughout the years, ACCTLA has remained a vocal advocate for its members at the local, state, and national levels – speaking out on issues impacting our clients ranging from “tort reform” to keeping our courts open and well-funded.  For example, the organization was instrumental in instituting a sixty-lawyer volunteer team to serve as settlement commissioners and judges pro tem in Alameda County, which ended an era of frequent five-year waits for a trial date.  ACCTLA members also advocated for Alameda County to comply with federal Americans With Disabilities Act access laws by bringing the Alameda County Courthouse into compliance without litigation.  Additionally, ACCTLA has remained a steady voice both locally and on the state level in the fight to fund our courts and to maintain our clients’ right to a jury trial.

In 1992, ACCTLA launched its first mentoring program.  The mentoring and professional development of attorneys at every stage of their career continues to be a hallmark of the organization, which prides itself on our reputation for collegiality, professionalism, and the cultivation of diverse leaders in the bar and on the bench.

To that end, ACCTLA also continues to offer robust educational programming for its members’ diverse practices, including programs in partnership with the other regional and state-wide trial lawyer groups in California.  Such MCLEs range from hosting the annual “What’s New in Tort and Trial” seminar to giving its members a chance to hear noted jury consultant David Ball speak on trial techniques.

In 1997, the Board of Governors hired Patricia Parson to become the full-time Executive Director of ACCTLA. Ms. Parson’s dedication and her relationships with members of the bar and bench were a driving force behind the organization’s early success.  In 2016, following Ms. Parson’s retirement, Mariana Harris joined ACCTLA as Executive Director.  Ms. Harris has worked with the Board to update and streamline operations and to realize the Board’s vision for the future.

Through the abilities, energy and spirit of its esteemed leadership and active membership, ACCTLA 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.

 

The benefits of membership include:

  • A members-only Listserve where members of the plaintiff’s bar can share information in confidence about experts, trial theory, and case strategy, etc.
  • The Verdict magazine sent to all members and judges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
  • The mentoring committee to help new attorneys with guidance from seasoned attorneys.
  • Continuing legal education seminars on a range of topics affecting your practice.
  • Connection with other members of the bar and the bench. 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 each county in honor of each Trial Judge of the Year recipient.  ACCTLA also hosts many other networking events throughout the year including a family friendly summer BBQ, as well as an annual event in collaboration with the Minority Bar Coalition.
  • 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.