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How I Spent My Spring Vacation

As I sit here listening to our valiant and dedicated President Leslie Shear this Saturday morning in the Conference Center at Indian Wells Hyatt Grand Champions Resort Hotel I am reminded of each Spring Seminar that proceeded this one and the work in progress that each program built upon the other programs until reaching the top of the pyramid this year, 2010. In past years, I remember how thrilled we were when we had 40 participants. Then later we were up to 70 participants and we thought we had made it to the big leagues. We have had many wonderful venues - Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Catalina, Laguna Beach for several years, Palm Springs for several years - but at last, at least for now, we have found a place where everyone can truly relax in the beautiful and expansive rooms as well as on the grounds of the resort, enjoy time with their families, network, get 16 hours of CLE and Specialization credits and rejuvenate in the wonderful desert air with the help of a world-class spa on the premises.

My only regret is that we cannot stay a few more days to truly unwind. Passover starts Monday night and that unfortunate poor timing requires me to attend to other more personal duties. But then I can look forward to coming back next year and enjoying myself again. I look back at all of the different topics that we tackled, some of which I personally presented, some of which, like this year, I helped organize. I remember going down to the Anzo Borrego Desert to explore a magnificent resort before my year of presidency as I tried to find a venue more user friendly and more similar to the style which most of our members had come to prefer for their family holidays – family-oriented, sophisticated, state of the art technology, and reasonably priced. That idea was a little ahead of its time. I also tried to innovate a number of other policies (such as telephone executive committee meetings and committee conferences between our scheduled board meetings, written committee reports to shorten our meeting times and active recruitment of fresh minds and bodies for our board and committee members) within my presidency which, I am thrilled to acknowledge may have been unwieldy at the time, but have now been refined and implemented by the last few presidents and their board of directors.

With that preface, I want to share with those of us who were unable to attend and start a dialogue with others who did attend some of the highlights of the long weekend. First of all, the weather was perfect! 80 degrees, clear and calm, snow on the mountains, cool at night. Breathtaking. Second, arriving on Thursday, Avery (my husband, ACFLS member and speaker at this seminar) and I were able to enjoy the scenery and walk around the grounds, playing ping pong, enjoying the ducks and many streams and waterfalls around the property. As I was on the Spring Seminar Committee, we had a final meeting in the Regency Club level of the hotel complete with delicious hors d’oeuvres, complementary drinks and a great view of the snow-covered mountains. Then we joined another board and committee member Barbara Hammers and her husband John (who, as a professional photographer, had volunteered to take pictures during the weekend) in Lantana, the hotel’s main restaurant, which was wonderful.

After watching a DVD that we brought with us (The Invention of Lying - with Rickly Gervaise and Jennifer Garner [a topic very familiar to family law attorneys] we fell asleep to the sound of the fountains that greet you in the courtyard as you enter the lobby of the hotel. Friday, after an early but short board meeting, we came to the Pre-Conference Attorneys’ Fees program, the highlight of which was Judge Black’s lecture on the history of case law on the issue of attorneys’ fees, which, Leslie told us the next day, he had spent over 100 hours reviewing and committing to memory all of the cases we have come to know and some cases we had perhaps forgotten about or in fact never came across in our practices. Avery and I managed to go to a yoga class after the program, which totally cleared our mind and body of all (most/some?) of the toxins of our stressful practice and gave us the frame of mind to thoroughly enjoy the wonderful cocktail/buffet dinner reception resplendent with live music and the perfume of the spring flowers on the lovely patio of the hotel. After catching up with so many of my friends that attended, we departed to our room to watch an in-room first run movie (Jeff Bridges/Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart) tired, but content.

After the breakfast buffet, we listened to Dawn Gray and Stephen Wagner tell us all we ever wanted to know about the law of transmutations. What they do not know about the subject could fit on the head of a pin. Saturday night we had a chance to experience the fine dining so prevalent in the desert at the Cliff House in La Quinta. Followed by drinks while listening to a Bolivian band at La Quinta Resort and Spa. Sunday was the most amazing day and one Avery and I will never forget. After the last program finished, we packed up and drove 20 minutes to Indian Canyons for several exquisite hikes in the desert which was in full bloom with Spring flowers. The weather was just perfect, sunny but not too hot; and we concluded our weekend by going to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Palm Springs for some incredible food and drink, including my vegetarian burrito and shot of tequila. Glad that there are some great perqs to the hard work and stress of our chosen careers.