Discovering the Delegation: How You Can Join the California Conference of Bar Associations and Change California Law

James Marion, Law Offices of James P. Marion

As attorneys we are often confronted by situations where a law simply does not work in the client’s favor. Similarly, we often jump hurdles and create workarounds to accommodate laws and policies that are outdated, ineffective or downright misguided. Sometimes we see urgent need for a law where no law exists. If only we had direct access to the legislative process, we could effect some meaningful change.

If you’re thinking such access is reserved for elected officials and lobbyists, think again!

The Bar Association of San Francisco’s (BASF) delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) provides a direct conduit for members seeking to influence California state law.

The CCBA is an organization established to craft, propose and lobby for new laws. Local and specialty bar associations around the state submit resolutions to the CCBA through their delegations, and the delegates assist in fine-tuning these proposals en route to debate and passage before the full conference at year’s end. Many of the resolutions passed by the conference become part of the CCBA’s legislative program and are proposed as legislation before the California legislature.

BASF has one of the largest delegations, and if you want to become a delegate, all you need to do is volunteer.

That is exactly what I did when, serendipitously, a fellow Barristers member made me aware of our delegation. At the time, I was struggling with a nagging issue for clients starting businesses in California’s booming cannabis industry.

Unlike other states where medical and adult-use cannabis is legal, California has an unwritten policy prohibiting state trademark registration for cannabis brands. With federal registration often unavailable, this deprives California businesses of crucial intellectual property protection, and exposes California consumers to uncertainty vis-à-vis product consistency in a market where such assurances are crucial.

I had been contemplating an involved public relations and lobbying campaign to remedy the issue, but the delegation presented a far more efficient and decisive option; rewrite the state’s Business and Professions Code to explicitly allow for cannabis trademarks. I authored a resolution, submitted it to the delegation for approval, and it is now well on it’s way to the annual conference and (fingers crossed) Sacramento.

If you have similar issues that need resolution, or just want to become more involved in shaping our state’s laws, visit ccba.sfbar.org.

About the author:

James Marion is the principal attorney at the Law Offices of James P. Marion, Esq., and the president and head writer at Greenlitscripts, a media content and consulting service. He can be reached at james@marionesq.com.