FRANCISCO – When Pam Wilson
worked as a
temp at the 1980 State Bar of California Annual Meeting, she thought it was a
one-shot deal. Although enjoyable, she was prepared to move on to the next
“I remember leaving the 1980 Annual Meeting thinking,
‘Well, that was fun. Now I’ve got to do something else,'"
Wilson told the California
Bar Journal. "But a month later I got
a call to come back. There was an opening, and they wanted me to apply.”
Thirty-six years and 37 annual meetings
later, Wilson plans to leave her job as senior director of education after this
year’s annual meeting in San Diego Sept. 29-Oct. 2. She has done just about
every imaginable duty related to putting on the annual shindig in her roles as administrative
assistant, associate director and ultimately, director, a position she’s held
Many things have changed during
her nearly four decades working with the bar, including the staff size,
which grew from five in the 1980s to 20 today. Another change is seen in the
way registration is handled for the annual meeting. With a decline in attendance
for all large bar events in recent years, the Annual Meeting Office began
offering a two-day pass in 2012.
“(This gives) people an opportunity if they
couldn’t attend the whole meeting to attend two days at a reduced registration
fee,” Wilson said. “And that has helped us a lot.”
Wilson hoped she exits the
State Bar with a big send-off by way of a successful annual meeting. The
opening session on elimination of bias is “Fail Better: Continuing Efforts to
Eliminate Bias in the Practice of Law.” The closing general session is “Substance
Abuse and Behavioral Health Vulnerability in the Legal Profession: Facing
Facts.” Wilson said the classes come highly recommended.
"I think they’ll be
very well attended," she said.
Spending practically your
entire career at the same organization is bound to provide plenty of “remember
when” stories. One in particular came to mind, probably because it happened in Wilson’s
early years with the State Bar. Shortly before the keynote speaker for its annual meeting was about to go on, Wilson took an urgent call that said the keynote’s
sister had died and she needed to call home immediately. Wilson gave her boss
the heads-up that he may need to step into the keynote role before delivering the
The speaker was Sarah
Weddington, an attorney in the Roe v. Wade case. After Weddington made the call
home, she thanked Wilson for giving her the message.
“Very professional, she sat down, ate lunch, gave a wonderful speech, and then cried all the
way to the airport," Wilson said.
She noted that leaving her
job is just a transition to volunteering for the legal profession.
to be a State Bar volunteer for the Week in Legal London program in May,” she
said. “I’m definitely looking forward to that. There’s no such
thing as a flawless meeting, but everyone thinks there is. And that’s the goal.”