On behalf of the 1,200-member strong California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), we welcome you to the City of Angels for #NELA16! When the Roll Call Of The States begins, you can be sure that CELA’s shout-out will resonate throughout the room. While we know that many are drawn to the Golden State because of our California sun, CELA has been working for thirty years to ensure that the climate for California workers is equally hospitable. We look forward to welcoming you.
CELA is a statewide organization of more than 1,200 attorneys who represent workers in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, wage and hour, and other employment matters. Our mission is to help our members protect and expand the legal rights of California’s workers through litigation, education, and advocacy. Over our thirty years of existence CELA has become a respected voice in the courts through our work as amicus curiae on employment cases. Almost 200 judges around the state subscribe to our monthly bulletin, which provides timely and insightful case updates and articles.
Internally, CELA maintains a strong structure of committees whose members are called on to help chart our course as an organization and to reach the goals we set. A number of our committees focus on particular areas of the law, such as the Wage and Hour Committee or Immigrant Employee Rights Committee; others oversee important aspects of our mission, such as our Education Committee and Legislative Committee; while others assist our members to thrive professionally, including the Practice Management Committee and our newest addition to the roster, the Barristers Committee.
Of all the things that make me proud to serve as Chair of CELA, the one that rises above the rest is our organization’s tangible commitment to diversity. With the help of talented leadership, persistence, and creativity, CELA has transformed itself into a diverse organization, not just in our membership, but also in our leadership. In the work to recruit, mentor, and support attorneys of color, LGBT attorneys, attorneys with disabilities, and attorneys from other disenfranchised or marginalized communities, CELA, through our Diversity Outreach Committee, has been privileged to partner with the Foundation for Advocacy Inclusion & Resources (FAIR), a 501(c)(3) organization. FAIR was established in 2010 with the mission “to promote diversity within the plaintiffs’ employment bar in California, so the attorneys representing California’s workers are as diverse as those they seek to represent.”
Increasingly, we are also working in the legislative arena to advance our mission. While that often necessarily means fending off harmful legislation in a pro-business climate, we have also achieved some positive gains. As a proud member of the Stronger California Network, a multi-year campaign, comprising 25 organizations from across California, CELA and our allies sponsored and passed into law what has been hailed as one of the strongest equal pay laws in the nation, California’s Fair Pay Act.
In our work, we have been privileged to rely on the wealth of experience and expertise that NELA’s national office and all of the NELA Affiliates have to offer. We look forward to #NELA16 for the nationwide synergy and personal energy that only a NELA Convention can generate!
We hope you will also take the time to enjoy some of what the greater Los Angeles area has to offer. As with all things CELA, the following list of fun things to do is the result of collaboration. Enjoy!
Downtown LA has a diverse collection of museums. You can get your groove on with a trip to the Grammy Museum, take in photographs by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank of Japanese internment on the west coast during World War II at the Japanese American National Museum, or travel back in time to the 1800s by crossing the threshold of the Avila Adobe on historic Olvera Street. You can also visit The Broad, LA’s new contemporary art museum. The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and photography from its beginnings to the present, gathered internationally. And right up the street from our host hotel is the Walt Disney Concert Hall. If you can’t make it to a concert, be sure to take the free tour and experience the vision of the architect Frank Gehry and Lillian B. Disney working together to honor her late husband Walt Disney. And children of all ages will enjoy Splash Park in Grand Park in downtown LA.
Knowing that everyone who attends NELA has dedicated her or himself to civil rights, I hope many of you will take a few of hours to visit the Museum of Tolerance, “a human rights laboratory and educational center dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today.” It will change you.
For a respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown LA, consider visiting nearby Pasadena. High on the list of recommendations for this less-traveled option is the Norton Simon Museum, featuring masterpieces by Cézanne, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Renoir, Ru bens, and van Gogh, as well as a stunning sculpture collection from India and Southeast Asia. Another option is the Huntington Library, Museum and Gardens in nearby San Marino. This gorgeous estate is home to rare books, European and American art, and sumptuous botanical gardens. For the sports-minded, how about jogging or walking the Rose Bowl Loop? Voted “Best jogging around an Historic Landmark” by LA Weekly, this 3.3- mile loop circumnavigates the picturesque stadium and is surrounded by trees and rolling hills.
The Griffith Observatory is Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos! Visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.
If all goes according to plan, the new Expo Line (light rail) will be operational and ready to take you from downtown Los Angeles directly to the iconic beach town of Santa Monica. The 40-minute ride is a great way to take in the sights without the dreaded traffic. Once you reach your destination, hang out on the beach, take a surf lesson, or visit the amusement park and restaurants on the Santa Monica Pier. The boardwalk that runs between Santa Monica and Venice is also worth a stroll or a bike ride (rentals available) and offers possibly the best people-watching anywhere on the planet.
Synonymous with Southern California is, of course, Disneyland and another favorite is Universal Studios.
If you have any more questions about what to do in Los Angeles, visit CELA’s table in the California Foyer or seek out the nearest CELA member for advice. If the suggestion you receive is to board a plane for San Francisco to take in a Giants game, you’re talking to me! Otherwise, you’re likely to get sage advice.
Have a great Convention and California experience!
Jean K. Hyams
Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP
Chair, California Employment Lawyers Association