Santa Cruz County
Trial Lawyers Association

Supporting Local Trial Lawyers for Over 30 Years

Group of people working together at a table with laptops and documents.

SCCTLA provides members with continuing legal education, social and professional networking opportunities and assistance to improve the administration of justice.

Five people joining hands in the middle of a work table with documents and a computer.

Our members are trial lawyers, students, paralegals and support staff with a commitment to trial work and to our community. 

Young professionals toasting at a dinner table.

SCCTLA supports our community and local trial lawyers with continuing education, camaraderie, and networking and community outreach opportunities.

“As we cautiously come out of our Covid-19 hibernation, SCCTLA recently held an MCLE in July 2021 and is gearing up to re-engage our Elementary Law Program for the 2021-2022 year, among other things. We look forward to gathering with our legal community again in the upcoming months. Stay tuned.”

~ Samuel Forbes-Roberts, President

What We Do

COOKIE COURT.  With SCCTLA’s support, Santa Cruz County 5th graders continue to benefit from volunteer trial attorneys who help students put on a “Cookie Trial” inside the courthouse.

MOCK TRIAL. SCCTLA works hard to ensure that Santa Cruz County high school students have the opportunity to participate in the statewide Mock Trial program. This next generation of trial lawyers benefits from our members’ expertise, mentorship and support.

ELBOW RUB.  Our annual Elbow Rub gives members and guests the opportunity to enjoy food, drinks, and fun, while honoring someone who has made a unique contribution to our trial lawyer community.

MCLEs.  SCCTLA offers regular MCLE courses during the lunch hour at the courthouse, designed specifically for civil and criminal trial lawyers. Earn your MCLE credits while mingling with friends.

ONLINE DISCUSSION GROUP.  SCCTLA members have exclusive access to our online discussion group geared at keeping local trial lawyers connected and informed.

TRIAL RESULTS.  SCCTLA tracks and analyzes local civil trials to provide members with regular updates.

CIVILITY & DECORUM COMMITTEE. SCCTLA offers members a forum to anonymously share concerns regarding civility and decorum in local practice.  The Committee offers candid advice and proposes solutions.

LITIGATION TRENDS. SCCTLA monitors local and statewide litigation trends and creates partnerships with trial lawyers in other counties to offer members access to cutting edge information relevant to their practice.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH. SCCTLA brings trial lawyers together to support our community. Whether it’s coming up with ways to support members who have been affected by natural disasters or personal hardships, organizing wellness and social activities to bring balance to busy lives or spreading the word about volunteer opportunities, SCCTLA nurtures a community of trial lawyers who are actively engaged in the community as a whole.

Donation Dues Model Continues Through 2022: JOIN US!

As our community moves forward gingerly in the face of an uncertain pandemic, back-logged courts, and families wondering how to connect when our young kids are still unvaccinated, SCCTLA is here to help bring us back together. How do we keep our courtroom skills sharp when so many of our cases are being delayed or litigated on ZOOM? How do we network and build professional ties with limited social opportunities and even fewer chance encounters? How do we move forward?

We get it. At yesterday’s Board meeting, the SCCTLA board grappled with these questions, as we considered how to grow and support our membership, while still raising enough money to support the programming that has made SCCTLA an integral part of the Santa Cruz County trial community for over 30 years–signature events like Mock Trial, Cookie Court and the Elbow Rub. Once again, we decided to leave your dues up to you.

Some folks are thriving as the economy rebounds. Others are struggling, as we face unprecedented personal and professional challenges. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, we are here for you.

This year, like last year, we will have a donation-based membership model, with suggested donations depending on where you’re at in your career. But, it’s also okay to donate less. Or more. Or nothing. The most important thing is that we stick together and support each other. So, please join us!

We’re expecting Mock Trial and Cookie Court to be nearly back to “normal” this year, with in-person programming, and we are already planning MCLEs that bring you fresh content and an opportunity to connect. This year’s Elbow Rub will be better than ever, with a new, family-friendly venue and delicious, local food. We’ll finally get a chance to honor Judge Heather Morse.

Membership runs from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022. For those of you who donate dues, you’ll have the option of applying your donation toward event fees. Join or renew your membership now!

Upcoming Events

Stay tuned for information about events designed for trial lawyers, including virtual happy hours, MCLEs, and opportunities to volunteer and network with our trial lawyer community.

Events Calendar

The Events Calendar tracks volunteer, networking and social opportunities, trials and evidentiary hearings, local court holidays, and other dates of interest to our members. To add an event to the calendar, send a request to scctla@gmail.com.

Recent Events

SCCTLA’s Co-Sponsored Presentation on Santa Cruz County’s Collaborative Justice System Was Well-Attended and Well-Received!

First In-Person MCLE of the Year a Success!

SCCTLA Board Member Lisa Peck at Stockwall Cellars, presenting our first in-person MCLE of the year

On July 14, we hosted our first in-person MCLE of the year on a topic that we’ve all been scrambling to catch up with: Depositions, Evidence & Persuasion – By Remote. Thank you to our members who showed up to share a glass of wine or bubbly water and learn about digital litigation among the barrels at Stockwell Cellars. Lisa Peck of PECK-LAW, Employment & Civil Rights hit all the right notes in a presentation that was timely, informative and kept us laughing.

Santa Cruz County Mock Trial

Thanks to committed volunteers, talented high school teams, and the hard work of the County of Office Education, including Denise Pitman-Rosas, Santa Cruz County Mock Trial was a success this year, despite the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Congratulations to the Santa Cruz High School Team who placed first in the County and to the Aptos High School Team who advanced to the state finals when the first-place team was unable to attend the statewide competition.

The Mock Trial competition was held on February 2 to 23, 2021, in a virtual format to comply with local and state health orders. The Honorable Judge John Salazar trained Mock Trial Scoring Attorneys, offering valuable insights into creating a consistent and positive learning environment for the students. Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association continued its long tradition of supporting this event by recruiting volunteers, publicizing the competition, and donating awards.

Mock Trial is a dynamic competition for high school students to learn about our judicial system by playing the roles of attorneys, witnesses, clerk and bailiff in a trial written for youth about current, relevant issues. This is an annual event. If you are interested in volunteering as an attorney scorer, coach, or behind the scenes for next year’s competition, fill out this form. Consider making a tax deductible donation to SCCTLA to support Mock Trial.

Board Votes to Make SCCTLA Membership FREE for 2020-2021

This has been a challenging year for our community. We have suffered an unprecedented global pandemic, devastating wildfires and record-breaking unemployment. Now more than ever, we need to come together as a community to support each other and join forces to rebuild the services and programs that help us thrive. In an effort to build a stronger, more robust community in these challenging times, the SCCTLA Board recently voted to make SCCTLA membership for 2020-2021 completely free. Instead of requiring dues, members are encouraged to make a donation to SCCTLA , volunteer and get involved. To be honest, SCCTLA’s programs and services cost money. Some might see this as a risky move. On balance, our Board decided that a donation model was the right thing to do this year. We truly believe that our members will support SCCTLA however they can. In turn, we will support our members by continuing to sponsor programs like Mock Trial and Cookie Court, engaging in community outreach, and providing signature services like our online discussion group. Joining SCCTLA is now as simple as letting us know a little bit more about you by filling out a short, online form. Join or renew your membership now to support our growing trial lawyer community.

SCCTLA Runs a 5K to Support County Parks

Dinah Sapia, Heather Rogers and families get ready to race!

On October 30, 2020, trial lawyers and their families got together to run the Covengers! 5K to support Santa Cruz County Parks. Together, we raised several hundred dollars for this worthy cause. We decided to run after work on West Cliff Drive, with families in tow. Our littlest “Covengers,” Maris Rogers (age 5) and Lucia Nevarez (age 6), “ran” the race using bikes with training wheels. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, while passersby cheered us on. Thanks to our members and families who ran, walked, biked, took pictures and cheered for us. Support our community outreach efforts by making a tax deductible donation to SCCTLA.

Meet Us

Meet our Officers and Board.

Support Us

Support our programs by volunteering to help out with high school Mock Trial or 5th Grade Cookie Court.

Join Us

Join us or renew your membership to support our growing trial lawyer community.

About Us

SCCTLA has been supporting local trial lawyers and building community for over 30 years. In 1989, local trial lawyers Bob Katz and Robert Yonts saw a need for an organization dedicated to providing programs, events and services designed specifically for local trial lawyers. SCCTLA continues to fill this niche.

Get In Touch


P.O. Box 1584
Soquel, CA

Members Only

For premium content available only to members, including a compilation and analysis of local civil trial results, access to the online discussion group, and a confidential form for submitting issues to the Civility & Decorum Committee, enter your Member Password here. SCCTLA membership for 2020-2021 is completely free. To join and get a Member Password, fill out a simple form here.

Support Our Sponsors

Our sponsors make it possible for SCCTLA to consistently provide quality programs, events, and services to our members and community. If you would like to support SCCTLA with a tax-deductible sponsorship of $250, get in touch. You can pay for your sponsorship now at our online store, or by sending a check to SCCTLA, 716 Ocean Street, Ste. 100, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. If you would like to make a lasting contribution to the growth and future of SCCTLA, consider making a sustaining monthly or yearly donation to support SCCTLA or the 5th Grade Cookie Court or high school Mock Trial programs.

Law Offices of John S. Burton
Johns S. Burton, Esq.

Austin Comstock, Esq.

Hon. Christopher Cottle (retired)

Sapia Law Firm
Dinah Sapia, Esq.

Gerard Chambers Psy.D., Ph.D.
Clinical Neuropsychologist

PECK-LAW, Employment & Civil Rights
Elizabeth (“Lisa”) M. Peck, Esq.