SCOTUS Recent Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was an unprecedented move in which the Supreme Court has for the first time taken away a constitutional right (here the right for a woman to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability of the fetus) instead of broadening individual rights. While opinions surrounding abortion have long been controversial, the Supreme Court’s apparent abandonment of stare decisis and the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade at the earliest opportunity brings into question the intended purpose of the judicial process at the very highest levels in our country. If Supreme Court decisions can be so easily overturned, not due to any advancement in science or knowledge, but merely due to the individual and/or religious leanings of those on the bench, it appears that no case can truly be relied upon in our judicial system. As an Association, we find this troubling, and worry about the Supreme Court’s decision to turn matters of such grave import (including those related to bodily autonomy, equality based on race, religion, sex, etc.) over to state legislatures, in which women and minorities particularly are grossly underrepresented. We fear that the Supreme Court’s decision to leave basic civil and human rights as a matter to be decided state to state will have a staggeringly negative impact on low-income communities and those traditionally sidelined and marginalized in our country. In the coming months, we will be meeting with our sections and committees to determine how as an Association we might address this uncertainty. We hope to support those negatively impacted by this and potential future Supreme Court decisions which may further strip away constitutional rights in a way that will negatively affect our most vulnerable populations. We encourage ideas and suggestions from our members and hope you will reach out to our Bar leadership with your own thoughts.

Labor & Employment Section- Building an Authentically Inclusive Workplace: It’s More Than ‘Checking the Diversity Box’

In an industry increasingly focused on building diverse teams, it is critical that we don’t stop with ‘checking the diversity box.’ In order to leverage the power of diversity in our organizations, we need to intentionally build inclusivity into everything we do – from policies and protocols, to organizational norms and behaviors, to culture and environment. In this webinar, we will discuss strategies and tactics to continue to mitigate bias in our organizations and in our own behaviors, and create authentically inclusive workplaces, where all employees feel psychologically safe, they are valued and respected, and they truly belong.

WHO: Our speaker, Lisa Wachtell, a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (“DEIB”) practitioner, partners with clients who recognize the imperative of DEIB, and are looking to embed it into their organizations in an intentional and sustainable way. Lisa guides the development of DEIB strategies, executes actionable implementation plans, and facilitates a variety of interactive DEIB-focused learning/training programs that motivate tangible organizational and behavioral change. Lisa has additional experience as a business strategist and learning and development professional focusing on culture change, employee engagement and brand strategy. Lisa holds her M.B.A. from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, a Certificate in Diversity & Inclusion for Human Resources from Cornell University, and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a Course Facilitator and Executive Coach for Stanford’s Graduate School of Business executive education LEAD Certificate Program.

Estate Planning and Probate Section- Basics of Special Needs Planning – Feb 10th

Come join Ellen Cookman for a lively and informative presentation on the basics of special needs planning.  Ellen will answer the following questions, and more:

•   In which situations are Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) required?

•   What makes a SNT valid?

•   How can you help your clients choose the right trustee for their SNTs?

•   Should you draft a stand-alone or testamentary SNT?

•   What are ABLE accounts and how can they benefit your clients?

•   Can SNTs still capture stretch-out benefits for pre-tax retirement accounts, and if so, how should a SNT be drafted to ensure this?


Free for SMCBA EP Section members, $10 for non-members.

Family Law Section- BIAS is a Four-Letter Word – Feb 23rd

Wednesday, February 23, 2022
12:00-1:30 p.m.
Via Zoom

Please join the Family Law Section on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, for a presentation by Vocational Experts Soma McCandless and Marlis Bruns on recognizing BIAS in the vocational evaluation process. They will provide recommendations on how to help ensure an impartial evaluation for your client.  An objective evaluation can be used to help settle support issues in your dissolution cases.

Both Marlis and Soma evaluate individuals for the purpose of assessing future employability and wage earning capacity in conformity with California Family Code, Section 4320. They are knowledgeable of local area training and education programs, current employment conditions, job markets and compensation in the Bay Area.

Marlis Bruns has been a Vocational Evaluator Since 2001.  She has qualified and testified as a court expert in Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Joaquin, Solano and Sacramento Counties. She has also performed out-of-state assessments and qualified to testify in Colorado and Texas. Marlis has a Master’s of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from the Golden Gate University and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from California State University, Chico. She belongs to the following professional associations: Bay Area Vocational Experts, American Board of Vocational Experts (Diplomat), National Career Development Association, California Career Development Association, Alameda County Bar Association, Contra Costa County Bar Association.

Soma McCandless has been a Vocational Evaluator since 2018.  She draws from her experience of over 14 years in the fields of technology consulting, education and the nonprofit sector.  She has qualified and testified as a vocational expert in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Contra Costa Counties.  She obtained a  Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  She also has a Master’s of Arts degree in Education with focus on Multicultural Counseling and a Mental Health Recovery and Trauma Informed Care Certificate from San Diego State University.  She belongs to the following professional associations: Bay Area Vocational Experts, American Board of Vocational Experts, and the National Career Development Association.  

You will receive 1 hour of General Law and Recognition and Elimination of Bias MCLE credit for attending this event. MCLE certificates will be made available in the week following the event.

Cost: $30 for Family Law Section members and $40 for non-section members.

Registration: Please log in on the SMCBA website to register for this event. If you wish to pay by check, please still register online first and send your check payable to SMCBA, to: 333 Bradford St., Ste. 150, Redwood City, CA 94063. Attn: Events. *Please note for which event you are paying and the name of the attendee.

Logistics: Your Zoom credentials will automatically be emailed to you shortly after you register online, as well as the day and hour before the event. Please note that you’ll need to be logged into a Zoom account to join the webinar. The written materials for the webinar will be emailed to attendees the morning of the event. 

Cancellations must be received at least 48 hours prior to the event for a full refund of the registration fee. If you do not cancel within 48 hours or do not show up to the event, you will be charged the full amount.