History of CAL-ABOTA

CAL-ABOTA was originally formed in 1977.  Currently, CAL-ABOTA represents the more than 1,500 California ABOTA members and the 8 California ABOTA chapters.  Equally represented by plaintiff and defense trial lawyers, CAL-ABOTA stands uniquely ready to address issues of concern to all trial lawyers and judges and to protect the right to trial by jury guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to the Constitution.

Originally formed to act as a committee to (1) select the California Trial Lawyer of the Year, (2) arrange a significant event during the State Bar meeting to honor the Trial Lawyer of the Year, and (3) establish a framework for analyzing legislation affecting the trial practice in California. All ABOTA members who reside in California are automatically members of CAL-ABOTA.

The Trial Lawyer of the Year (TLY) had been presented since 1962. The party was held at the California State Bar convention every year until 1988 when the Board voted to move the event to the town where the recipient resides so his/her chapter could participate. In 2004 the Board voted for change again by moving the event to Hawaii where it is now celebrated all week long and concludes with a Trial Lawyer of the Year presentation on the last night.

The three reasons for its existence are still the impetus for CAL-ABOTA. However, it has evolved into a vibrant active group of officers who look forward to meeting four times a year to share activities, problems and ideas, and to address contemporary issues of the day within the legal profession. Since CAL-ABOTA is comprised equally of plaintiff and defense lawyers, mutual concerns can be discussed.

The CAL-ABOTA Board is comprised of the chapter president, president-elect and immediate past president from each of the eight California chapters: California Coast, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside/San Bernardino, Sacramento Valley, San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley. The Executive Committee/CAL Board officers include a President, President-elect, Vice President, Treasurer and the 3 Immediate Past Presidents. The Treasurer is nominated by the Executive Committee which consists of the elected officers. The election is held each year at the August meeting by the Board where they also elect a member-at-large as well. There are a total of three members-at-large, all with rotating terms so one is replaced each year. They serve a three year term.

In 2002, a set of bylaws, separate from each chapter’s bylaws, were passed to help guide the State Organization.

The first meeting each year is a two-day retreat that takes place on the first weekend in March. It is held at a resort usually in southern California. All past presidents and spouses are invited to the retreat, as well as the National President and other State Organization Presidents. The meetings take place on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Friday night is a cocktail party, Saturday night is a dinner. Each member pays for their own room and incidentals, CAL-ABOTA pays for the functions. The other two meetings, one in June and one in August are held on a Friday night starting at 5:00 p.m., followed by dinner at a hotel or restaurant near an airport. The final meeting of the year is held in November during our Hawaii Conference.

Income is derived from a $75 assessment which is billed with the annual national dues statement to all California members. The assessment is mandatory and pays for all Board meetings and supports the California office and Director.

Florida, Texas, and SouthEast ABOTA have also formed similar organizations known as FLABOTA, TEX-ABOTA and SE-ABOTA. ABOTA has over 7,000 members in 96 chapters nationally.

Within the last several years, CAL-ABOTA has developed several new programs of interest. In 2003, Rudy Nolen, then President, initiated the three state organizations coming together for the first time at our retreat in March to discuss mutual concerns. Legislative issues are a priority and we are monitoring them with greater interest and knowledge so we can pass the information on to our members. An educational program with the local law schools has been developed where our members teach classes on civility and ethics to inspire young lawyers. The Civility Matters program was initiated in all 8 chapter areas and is now in 44 law schools in California. We are also supporters of the Foundation of ABOTA, it’s Educational Seminars and the many programs and projects established by National ABOTA.

For additional information about CAL-ABOTA , please contact your Chapter President or our Executive Director, Jennifer Blevins at jennifer@cal-abota.org or 916.239.4087.



California Chapters of
American Board of Trial Advocates
2520 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95833
Phone: 916.239.4087
Fax: 916.924.7323
Developed and maintained by California Advocates, Inc.