History

OCAN History

The idea for a national Orthodox attorneys group was first conceived in 2010 when a group of attorneys met at the Atlanta law office of Bill Marianes to plan for the incorporation of the new Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.

But it wasn’t until seven years later in 2017 when about 30 Orthodox attorneys gathered for an uplifting first-ever national pan-Orthodox attorney meeting in southern California. Ken Liu, who at the time was on staff of the Christian Legal Society (CLS), invited Orthodox attorneys from around the country and various jurisdictions to meet at the CLS national conference.

Prominent Orthodox leader and attorney Charles Ajalat provided inspiration for creating the group and generously hosted a special dinner at his southern California home to kick off the first event. Everyone had a wonderful time of fellowship and knew they wanted to continue meeting together.

The informal group became the Orthodox Christian Attorney Network (OCAN) and continued to host annual gatherings with engaging speakers such as Stephanos Bibas, U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judge, and Bishop Maxim Vasiljević of the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, the annual gatherings were disrupted by the pandemic. Since then, OCAN continued hosting online webinars, panel discussions, and a popular monthly “Women’s Coffee Hour”.

Recognizing the great potential for serving the Orthodox legal community and the Orthodox Church at large, the OCAN steering committee transitioned to become the OCAN Board of Directors and established a formal nonprofit corporation in February 2024.  

OCAN Future

There is much potential for what OCAN can do to help attorneys serve each other, the Church, and the world. We’re excited to see what the Lord has in store for us. We invite you to join us and help shape our future!  

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We welcome you to check out our speaker lists and photos from past OCAN conferences below. 

Conferences
2020 - Online
2020 - Online

Keynote - “Healing a House Divided: An Orthodox Christian Spiritual Perspective on Equality, Justice, and Unity in Troubled Times”
Hon. Stephanos Bibas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Introduction & Prayer
Archbishop Michael Dahulich, Orthodox Church in America; Chair, Legal Affairs Committee, Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops

“How the Law Prepares Us to Preach the Gospel”
Steven Christoforou, Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

2019 - Chicago, IL

Introductory Remarks & Prayer
His Eminence Nathanael of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago

Keynote – “Answering the Call of our Profession - The Intersection of our Legal Duty, Orthodox Convictions and Public Service”
Congressman Justin Amash (I-Michigan)

“Answering the Call of our Mental Health and Well-Being”
Dr. Ary Christofidis

“Answering the Call of Service to our Orthodox Churches, Non-Profit Organizations and Community”
Louis Milicich, Counsel at Dentons
Eric Namee, Member at Hinkle Law Firm, LLC
Donna Haddad, Senior Counsel at IBM Data & Watson AI
Bill Marianes, Retired Partner at McGuire Woods
Moderator: Matthew Namee

“Practical Implications of Answering the Call”
Judge Nick Ayoub, 61st District of State of Michigan
Joan Berg, Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, LLC
Violetta Kapsalis Buhler, former Regional General Counsel, Fannie Mae
Zoe Laird, Deputy District Attorney, Arapahoe County, Colorado
Moderator: Georgina Suzuki, Asociate,  Ropes & Gray LLP

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2018 - Clearwater Beach, FL

Keynote - “Being a Good Christian Lawyer in a Post-Christian World: On Serving Two Masters”
Honorable Judge Stephanos Bibas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Deacon, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Church, Rocky Hill, NJ.

“Stewardship of the Heart in our Legal Profession” – Panelists:
Judge John Dalis (U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Georgia, retired)
Leon Lysaght (Prof., University of Detroit Mercy Law School, retired)
Ken Liu (Christian Legal Society)

“Stewardship of the Mind in our Legal Profession” – Panelists:
Georgia Kazakis (Covington & Burling)
Gregory Winsky (Archer & Greiner P.C., St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church)

“Stewardship of our Churches” – Panelists:
Bill Marianes (McGuire woods, retired; Stewardship Calling)
Matthew Namee (Orthodox Ministry Services)

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2017 - Newport Beach, CA

Introductory Remarks & Prayer
His Grace Bishop Maxim, Serbian Orthodox Church

Keynote ‐ "Render Unto Caesar: Faith, Law, and the Citizen Lawyer"
Honorable Thomas Alexander Varlan‐ Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

“Being an Orthodox Christian Attorney: Integrating Faith & the Practice of Law” - Panelists:
E.R. Lanier ‐ Judge, Municipal Court of Norcross, GA (retired); General Counsel, OCA
Bill Marianes – McGuire Woods (retired); Stewardship Calling
Leon Lysaght ‐ Professor, University of Detroit Mercy Law School (retired)

“Serving Churches and Other Nonprofit Organizations” - Panelists:
Georgia Kazakis ‐ Covington
Kenneth Liu ‐ Christian Legal Society; Gammon & Grange
Louis Milicich– Dentons

“The State of American Orthodoxy”- Panelists:
Eric Namee ‐ Hinkle Law Firm; Virginia H. Farah Foundation
Matthew Namee ‐ Black Saber Capital Investment Fund; Society for Orthodox
Christian History in the Americas
John Zavitzanos ‐ AZA Law Firm

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