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President’s Message

March 2021

REMARKS FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

By: Michael A. Scafiddi, Esq.

Character Counts

Many of you are probably aware after reading my prior President’s Messages that each month I attempt to impart to the reader my personal thoughts as how we as lawyers have touched the lives of so many people.  I understand that many of my personal and professional stories are also similar to each of your own personal and professional stories.  Many of you have contacted me to express your shared commitment to personal service of our respective clients and the service to our community that we honor.  Your comments to me during these unprecedented times of COVID-19 and all of the changes in our lives during this time has been comforting.

I was recently thinking about the time when I had an opportunity to meet Professor Michael Josephson.  For those around my age or a little younger, you may remember that Michael Josephson was a law professor and attorney that founded the nonprofit Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles.  Professor Josephson was also featured often on KNX 1070 radio where he had a one-minute slot called “Character Counts.”  I have to say that I have been thinking of Professor Josephson’s comments and recalling fond memories of listening to “Character Counts” on KNX 1070.  I also remember personally meeting Professor Josephson at an Inns of Court joint meeting back in 2009.

I decided I would do a little research, because as a bar nerd, and I am definitely a bar association nerd, I keep all of the past President’s Messages from the Western County Bar Association, the San Bernardino County Bar Association, and the Riverside Bar Association.  As I went back and reviewed my past President’s Messages, I realized that I wrote about my meeting Professor Josephson on February 11, 2009 at our local Joseph B. Campbell Inns of Court meeting where he was a featured lecturer.  I noted back then that the Honorable John Pacheco was the moderator of that program.  I also noted that this event was attended by over one hundred members of the legal community.  I remember having an opportunity to talk to Professor Josephson after he spoke and to thank him for his words of wisdom.  We spoke about what his messages have meant to me personally and professionally, and in fact, how it has caused me to try to always do more for others than I do for myself.  This also inspired me to get more involved in not only bar association activities, but also in other not for profit associations such as Cedar House, a one hundred twenty-five bed in patient alcohol drug and rehabilitation program in Bloomington.  I served on that Board for over twelve years, with other gifted lawyers like Aaron Turner and Gary Smith.  In listening to Professor Josephson’s “Character Counts,” this had also inspired me to continue to serve on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino, which I have served on since 1993.  It truly is a wonderful gift to give unconditional service to those in need.

As an attorney who appears in courts throughout California, I have the opportunity to sit and observe different judges, court staff, and lawyers and how they interact with each other and the public.  I would say that from my own personal observations before and during COVID-19 times, that ninety-nine percent of the lawyers truly understand that character does count, by being sincere, honest, and displaying the highest ethics, and those attributes lead to a much better result for our respective clients.

There are many comments and thoughts that Professor Josephson discussed during our conversation about his “Character Counts” program.  I would urge everyone to read one of Professor Josephson’s writings entitled, “What Will Matter,” which you can find at www.charactercounts.org.  This was written by Professor Josephson in 2003, and after reading it, I would encourage everyone to think about what it means to you.

I often think to myself that as a lawyer and person, when was the last time I expressed true heartfelt thanks to someone.  I try to do that often.  I think about what Professor Josephson wrote: “When was the last time you wrote a thank you note?  When was the last time you went beyond the mechanical ‘thank you’ to express our authentic gratitude?  We can enrich the lives of others and ourselves by making it a habit to express genuine appreciation for what others have done for us.” ~ Michael Josephson

On March 4th, the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association honored three members of our legal community who have provided great service and dedication to our local justice system.  The Honorable Bryan F. Foster received the Judicial Officer of the Year Award, which is given to those who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the local, legal and judicial community, including significant work in upholding and providing impartial justice for all, improving the interaction between the judiciary and the bar, improving access for low and moderate income litigants to the court system, exhibiting appropriate judicial demeanor, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the court system.

The Board also proudly presented the Honorable Tara Reilly with the Judicial Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors a judge who is recognized as having a reputation for and commitment to judicial excellence, has achieved a significant length of service as a judicial officer, and has demonstrated a long term, consistent and significant contribution to the betterment of the judiciary and the public it serves.

Finally, we posthumously awarded Mitchell Ira Roth the Mitchell Roth Service Award. Mitchell Roth was a well-established and respected probate attorney in the Inland Empire, who gave his time and energy not only to the practice of law, but also to helping out selflessly with respect to the needs of the court and the legal community.  He also generously served as a Board of Director for the WSBCBA for over 25 years.  He promoted and established the WSBCBA Service Award for individuals in our legal community who stand out above the rest and go beyond the call of duty.  Our hearts are sorrowful with the loss of our great colleague.  In recognition of Mitchell, the WSBCBA is proud to rename this prestigious award the Mitchell Roth Service Award. It was a virtual program and a wonderful evening to honor those who do so much in their daily lives for others.  Clearly, Judge Foster, Judge Reilly and Mitchell Roth know that “Character Counts.”

As always, please reach out to me either by phone, text or e-mail if you have anything you would like to discuss as it relates to the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association and any services that we can offer you, or if there are any topics you would like to discuss in future President’s Messages please let me know.  As always, work well, care, and stay safe and healthy.

Michael A. Scafiddi, Esq.

WSBCBA President