A Message from the President: Michael P. Johnson

Michael Johnson
Michael P. Johnson, AT&T Services, Inc., Legal Department

It has been my honor to serve as the President of the Alameda County Bar Association this year. It has been a year of change and excitement! In keeping the promise that I made to you when I was sworn in as President this year, we hosted an MCLE series on Women in the Law, with sessions on women on the bench featuring Judges Delia Treviño, Lupe Garcia and Jennifer Madden. We had no idea, when we launched this series, just how timely and critical they would become.

The national #metoo movement touched an often-hidden nerve, and our community welcomed those wanting a chance to talk with each other about their experiences. These sessions were extremely popular, and clearly served an important need. We look forward to continuing to address the ongoing issues that women attorneys and judges face, and to offer strategies, mentoring and support.

The ACBA moved offices in March. If you haven’t seen the new space yet, be sure to come by (or come to one of our free CLE programs)! We are particularly delighted to have expanded our meeting space by 50%, and we are able to fit many more attendees in our programs.

2018 also saw a record number of attendees at our Giants/A’s Battle of the Bay tailgate and ballgame. We were sitting right on the field, and one of our younger attendees even had an A’s pitcher toss him a ball – a big thrill! Our Barristers Section planned this event, as well as their many other social and networking events, which were very successful. A huge shout-out goes to Alice Cheng for spearheading this event.

Our Judicial Appointments Evaluation Committee (known fondly as JAEC) had a banner year. Generally, governors who are in their final year try to fill all vacant judicial seats, and Governor Brown is no exception. The Committee, which gets requests for evaluation from the Governor’s Office, received no fewer than 17 applications to review. Since they contact 20-40 references for each applicant, and then interview the applicant at length, this was a tough year for this hardworking committee.

Attorneys who are members of the Lawyer Referral Service also saw a record increase in attorneys’ fees earned through cases placed with them by the LRS. We are working to expand our client outreach to grow that number even more.

As many of you may know, I am passionate about The Volunteer Legal Services Corporation (I am a former President) and the services that VLSC provides to the community. VLSC is also having an extremely busy year, marking its first full year of its drop-in Saturday CLASP clinic, which is now serving 80-100 clients each time.

It is also the third year of VLSC’s Bay Area Legal Incubator, which offers business and substantive law coaching, office space, many free technologies and training to help attorneys kick-start sustainable, successful solo practices that serve low and middle income communities. Attorneys benefit from a supportive, highly resourced, shared work environment; communities benefit from affordable legal services. BALI focuses particularly on empowering minority attorneys to open up their own practices and build a business. For its first two years, BALI only accepted applications from graduates of our sponsoring law schools (Berkeley, Hastings, USF, Golden Gate, and Santa Clara). This year, BALI agreed to accept applications from “free agents” who are eager to start their own practices, but would like support and mentoring to get there.

2019 will mark my last year on the ACBA Board of Directors; I will serve in the capacity of Past President next year. I thank my fellow ACBA Board members, the ACBA staff and you, my fellow members, for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your President.