History Project: The 1980s

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1983 CLA Hires First Executive Director

The Washington, D.C. area was the home base of the CLA. In the early years the offices and homes of some of the Washington lawyers served as the CLA offices. Dan Brooks and his wife Barbara deserve special notice for their significant contribution in this regard .

In 1983 Barbara Fieser joined the Association as our first Executive Director. Shortly thereafter the CLA rented an executive office across the Potomac in Virginia. Barbara remained the CLA executive Director until 2005.

1985 Denver Program

In 1985 Steve Mains working with Professor John Soma hosted a March program for the CLA in Denver. It is notable as the first CLA program that dealt exclusively with the problems of the microcomputers and the mass distribution of computer software - a sign of the changing times in the IT industry.

John Soma would join the board of the CLA and serve on it for many years.

1985 First Annual Update Meeting in Washington

Many CLA members look forward each year to the annual update meeting of the CLA. This meeting was first held in May 1985 in Arlington Virginia under the chairmanship of Dan Cooper. This meeting also saw the creation of an international special interest group under the chairmanship of another Canadian, Ian Kyer. The International SIG started the publication that year of the International Update Newsletter.

1985 A Membership Snapshot

John Fieser, a geographer and statistician and the husband of Barbara Fieser, the CLA Executive Director, periodically provided the Association with a graphical representation of its membership.

1986 A Canadian Becomes President

In 1986 Dan Cooper a Canadian from Toronto became the first non-American to be President of the CLA. Dan had long been an active participant in CLA events. In 1978 and again in 1983 he had chaired conferences of the CLA in Toronto. In 1985 he had chaired the first annual update meeting in Washington and had been the prime mover behind the creation of special interest groups (or "birds of a feather" meetings as he called them).

1987 First Woman to be President

After 16 years, the CLA had its woman President in 1987 when Susan Nycum from California assumed the office. Susan served for two years during which time the CLA held its first European meeting in Amsterdam. Only fittingly the planning for that meeting began in Cambridge England at an IBA meeting attended by Susan, Dan Cooper the CLA’s previous President, Dinant Oosterbaan, one of the CLA’s first European members and Ian Kyer, then chair of the CLA’s International committee.

Since 1987 the CLA has had many women serve as President. They include Karen Casser, Dianna Mackenzie, Esther Nunes and Amy Lynne Williams. In 2003, Esther from Sao Paulo, Brazil had the distinction of being the first non-American to become President. That honor ought to have fallen on Vanessa Marsland several years before. Vanessa from London England served for many years on the board and was in line to become President. She, however, was unable to assume office for personal reasons.

1988 First European Meeting of the CLA

On June 1 - 3, 1988 the CLA held a conference in Europe for the first time. This Amsterdam program was the result of discussions that had been held between Dan Cooper and Ian Kyer from Toronto and Dinant Oosterbaan from Amsterdam. Dinant had visited Toronto in the fall of 1986 to speak at the first meeting of the Canadian members of the CLA, organized by Ian Kyer.

Dan Cooper, one of the CLA executives and a fellow Torontonian, also spoke at the conference. The three became friends and began to talk about taking the CLA to Europe. In the summer of 1987 they met again at an International Bar Association conference in Cambridge England. That became a planning session for the CLA Amsterdam program to be held in 1988. All three chaired the Amsterdam meeting. The conference in Amsterdam also acted as the first meeting of the International Federation of Computer Law Associations or IFCLA. CLA co-sponsored other European conferences with IFCLA in Munich in 1990, Stockholm in 1992, Bath, England in 1994 and in Brussels in 1996.

1988 Software Distributorship Contracts Forms Collection

The CLA has long been a publisher as well as a source of excellent conferences. Dan Brooks and others worked to publish much of the conference materials in the 1970s. Meetings were transcribed, either by a court reporter or on videotape, and made available in written or video format to members or others. In 1988 Paul S. Hoffman editor the first of a series of forms collections. From 1993 to 1996 the CLA would publish a series of annual essay collections. Other volumes were done on selected topics - international treaties by Bill Tanenbaum, pamphlets on state taxes by Paul Hoffman and a glossary by Bob Bigelow . 1996 saw the publication of the first of the "Current Issues Publications Series"---The Internet and Business: A Lawyer’s Guide to the Emerging Legal Issues , edited by Joseph Ruh, Jr .

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