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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We will be using this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs, and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the author and not Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to respectfully participate in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog, and guest writers are welcome.

 

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Perspectives from the Periphery of Family Law: "Sending Clients Condolences After a Tragedy"

Posted By Anna Howard, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Sending Clients Condolences After a Tragedy

            I like sending cards. I congratulate clients when they have a baby, I send them happy anniversary wishes, and I have an assortment of “get well soon” messages, and “in deepest sympathy” cards on hand. I also like efficiency. I have a pre-written email for the questions I field when someone asks me what to do next if their parent passes away. My email includes two attachments about grief, local resources, and a hyperlink to a website all about self-care during times of loss.

            However, no one prepared me for how to address clients who faced a violent terrorist attack in their home town. My work with surrogacy has involved clients living abroad, and I have number of clients from France. One year ago I wrote to them expressing my shock and disbelief at the shootings across the nightclubs and stadium in France. Nearly a year later, I was horrified beyond adequate expression to have to reach out again to address the terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day. I think in these instances, no pre-written or pre-purchased condolence card would suffice in letting them know that my heart was aching for them.

In one letter, I shared with them an article that I found somewhat uplifting. In another, I asked what charities my clients supported and if they wanted me to post online about their experiences. I wanted to make sure my words were sincere and did not come across as “sales-y” or invasive. 

            None of the recipients of these emails were angry (the worst outcome I feared) and many wrote back thanking me for the email. But what got me thinking about sharing this communication was that one or two wrote to me and said I was the first American they knew who had reached out and started a dialogue about the terrorism they witnessed. I was deeply sorry to hear so few of my fellow countrymen and women had sent an email or left them a voicemail. 

            As Lawyers Club members, one of the tenets of our mission is to advance the status of women in law and society. I think one of the hallmarks of being a woman in this industry is providing a kind word or caring tone to a fairly formal and arms-length profession. Another tenet of Lawyers Club is to promote civility in the law, but how does one act civil when reacting to a terrorist attack? For those of you who have a small client base in San Bernardino or Orlando, or who have represented people who have lost their homes to fires or floods, perhaps we should create a larger conversation about how to best express our condolences to clients after a tragedy.

Anna Howard, improving the lives of Californian families, one well-crafted legal document at a time.

EDITOR'S NOTE:This post was slated to be published weeks ago. In light of last night's tragedy in Berlin, its message is even more timely and thought-provoking.

Tags:  balance  client outreach  crisis response  expressing sympathy  LCB  Perspectives from the Periphery of Family Law  sending condolence  solo firm 

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Chasing the Last Wave: "Notorious RBG to the Rescue!"

Posted By Molly T. Tami , Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Notorious RBG to the Rescue!

 

Like many of you, I’m feeling disheartened these days by all the negative news and nasty rhetoric out there, particularly as it relates to women and our place in society. The founding mothers of feminism must surely be rolling in their graves just as we modern day feminists are shocked by what we are witnessing in the presidential election campaign. Need I say more? And at work, my inbox fills with article after article about gender disparity in pay at law firms, women’s underrepresentation in the legal ranks, sexual harassment claims in the legal academy, and so forth. No wonder many women feel discouraged these days, even women in the legal profession who arguably yield great influence and power over their own circumstances and fate.   

 

In the midst of all this bad news and gloom, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG!) came to my rescue. I’ve watched several recent interviews with Justice Ginsburg as she promotes her new book, My Own Words, and I just read her recent New York Times essay entitled Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice for Living, adapted from that book. Justice Ginsburg’s personal story inspires me and demonstrates the great progress women have made in the legal profession. But what she shared in the interviews and in the essay about her “supersmart, exuberant, ever-loving spouse,” Marty Ginsburg, struck me the most. “And I betray no secret in reporting that, without him, I would not have gained a seat on the Supreme Court,” she writes. Marty Ginsburg secured the support of her home state senator and members of the legal academy and practicing bar to make her nomination happen. It’s apparent that marrying Marty was one of the best decisions of Justice Ginsburg’s personal and professional life.

 

We’ve all heard it said that behind every successful man is a great woman. In the old days, that was generally true. While I don’t subscribe to the notion that every successful professional woman needs a man (or partner) behind her, I firmly believe that for women who decide to marry, choosing the “right” partner is the most critical decision for both personal and career success. I hope many women reading this have chosen well or will heed this advice when contemplating marriage/partnership in the future. And to the many supportive male members of the Lawyers Club, I thank you for being our allies, advocates and in many cases, that “right” partner. 

 

I leave you with the closing paragraph of Justice Ginsburg’s essay, and I thank her for rescuing me and inspiring us all to continue chasing the last wave. 

 

Earlier, I spoke of great changes I have seen in women’s occupations. Yet one must acknowledge the still bleak part of the picture. Most people in poverty in the United States and the world over are women and children, women’s earnings here and abroad trail the earnings of men with comparable education and experience, our workplaces do not adequately accommodate the demands of childbearing and child rearing, and we have yet to devise effective ways to ward off sexual harassment at work and domestic violence in our homes. I am optimistic, however, that movement toward enlistment of the talent of all who compose “We, the people,” will continue.

 

Molly Tami serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law. She previously designed and taught a course on Law, Gender and the Work/Family Conflict and is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession.               

Tags:  Chasing the Last Wave  election  feminism  feminist  gender  Justice Ginsburg  LCB  legal profession  marriage  partner  sexual harassment  spouse  Supreme Court  women 

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Guest Blog: "Happy 100th Birthday, Planned Parenthood!"

Posted By Anne Haule, Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, Planned Parenthood!

 

The “birth” of Planned Parenthood Federation of America can be traced to the first birth control clinic in the U.S., which was opened by Margaret Sanger, her sister, and a fellow activist in Brooklyn, New York, on October 16, 1916. As the 6th of 11 children born out of 18 pregnancies in 22 years to an Irish Catholic mother who died at 49, it is not surprising that Sanger became a birth control activist.

 

Sanger became a fearless activist, educating women about how to avoid pregnancies that too often resulted in self-imposed abortions and death. She published contraceptive information unavailable elsewhere, (even in libraries or from physicians), due to prohibitions on sex education deemed “obscene” by the federal Comstock Act.

 

Fast forward to today: One hundred years after the opening of the first clinic, Planned Parenthood is still fighting—a fight that has broadened in scope from education and access to reproductive justice.

 

Some highlights of the 100-year fight include:

  • 1921: Establishment of the American Birth Control League, adding legislative reform and research to its mission (the name was changed to Planned Parenthood in 1942).
  • 1951: Research grant awarded to Planned Parenthood to develop a birth control pill.
  • 1965: Supreme Court legalized birth control for married people; Estelle Griswold, Planned Parenthood’s Connecticut President, opened a birth control clinic to challenge the state’s ban on birth control and successfully overturned the ban!
  • 1970: Contraceptives and sex education and contraception research becomes available through public funding; President Nixon and Republican leadership agree that family planning is part of public health.
  • 1973: Abortion becomes legal when the Supreme Court rules that abortion is a protected privacy right guaranteed by the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution (Roe v. Wade).
  • 1970s to present: Physical attacks on clinics and providers and continuous legislative attempts at restrictions on abortion.
  • 2011: Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to cover contraception.
  • 2016: 100 years after Sanger’s first clinic opened in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court holds Texas’ restrictions on abortion providers that severely limited access to be illegal in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Today, Planned Parenthood continues to be the subject of attacks by politicians and religious extremists. As a patient escort at a local abortion services provider, I can testify to offensive rhetoric of some anti-abortion protesters (among other names, fellow volunteers and I have been referred to as “Satan’s spawn” and “conspirators to murder”). Planned Parenthood’s physicians, staff, and volunteers are courageous in the face of such opposition.

 

Planned Parenthood is now the largest provider of women’s healthcare in the country. According to Planned Parenthood statistics, one in three women have abortions at some point in their lives. Thanks to Planned Parenthood and other providers, abortion has become a safe medical procedure and self-imposed abortion deaths familiar to Margaret Sanger have become a thing of the past in the United States.

 

For all the important work performed by Planned Parenthood over the past 100 years that has allowed us to advance the cause of women and families, let us all take the time to acknowledge the 100th birthday and consider donating our time and/or our resources to continue the fight.

 

This blog post was authored by Anne M. Haule. Anne M. Haule is a writer, feminist, progressive activist, and retired health lawyer, who wrote this on behalf of the Lawyers Club’s Reproductive Justice Committee. 

Tags:  Anne Haule  birth control  healthcare  LCB  parenthood  planned  planned parenthood  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  RJC  sanger 

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Life Imitates Law: "Lessons from 'Miss You Like Hell'”

Posted By Bobbi-Jo Dobush , Thursday, December 1, 2016
Updated: Thursday, December 1, 2016

Life Imitates Law: "Lessons from 'Miss You Like Hell'"

 

Stepping out into the newly crisp fall air, I declared, "I’ve found my new favorite thing." I issued this proclamation in response to my husband asking how I liked the play, “Miss You Like Hell,” which we had just seen. He laughed at my response, clarifying, "You mean your new favorite play, or favorite musical?" "No," I responded, "Favorite thing . . . as in, in general." The characters, music, set design—they are all transcendent.

 

But this is not a theater review. Instead, I was inspired by one scene where an attorney asks her client to make a request of a family member. You should definitely go see “Miss You Like Hell,” so I'll only say that the client agonizes over the idea of asking a loved one to vouch for her in the context of a legal proceeding. The scene got me thinking about the things attorneys ask of our clients, especially when the matter is deeply personal, and more importantly, how we ask for those things. (Full disclosure: I am an environmental attorney, but I encounter such situations in my pro bono immigration practice).

 

We may not realize when certain “asks” that seem routine implicate complicated interpersonal relationships. It is easy to be empathetic when asking a client to deliver on bureaucratically or logistically complicated requests, such as obtaining original documents from a country of origin a client has not set foot in for a decade, or certification from an agency that will require standing in line for half a workday. In making such requests, I have been prepared to provide support, talk through challenges and potential solutions, and research or brainstorm alternatives if necessary.

 

“Miss You Like Hell” made me realize I have been less readily empathetic in asking clients to make personal requests, whether for assistance in obtaining documents, writing letters, or testifying. I've always been sensitive to potentially difficult or uncomfortable aspects of each client's particular situation. For instance, it's obvious that the last way a survivor of violence wants to obtain original documents is by contacting her or his abuser. Beyond that, I'd do well to remember that no matter how intimately I, in the role of attorney, have come to know one aspect of a client's situation, it is but a tiny sliver of that person's complex personal life.

 

Instead of asking clients to make personal requests as an afterthought or part of a checklist, I will now be asking clients, "Who could potentially provide a letter of reference?” and, “Is there any reason asking that person would be complicated for you?" I will also be prepared to do some brainstorming if alternative sources are needed. Our clients, like everyone else we know, have rich and varied personal relationships independent of their legal issues and the potential solutions that we, as attorneys, can provide for them. My personal goal is to be more respectful of those relationships.

 

****

 

“Miss You Like Hell" is playing through December 4th at the La Jolla Playhouse. 

 

****

This blog posted was authored by Bobbi-Jo Dobush who believes that sharing our diverse passions—for example the arts, the ocean, or salsa (the condiment)—can positively influence our practices. 

Tags:  Art  client  Client Service  LCB  Life Imitates Law  Local Happenings  Theater 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "WASH YOUR VAGINA"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

WASH YOUR VAGINA!

            I know. It’s so … crass.

 
Well, here’s the story. I was in court for a sentencing calendar. The same white male heterosexual defense attorney who had once suggested I stand on my head (I was wearing a skirt suit that day, ha-ha) was limping due to an injury. I held the door for him and his white male legal intern on my way out.

           
“Thanks,” he said. “It’s been difficult getting around.” I made some sort of sympathetic sound. I probably nodded and inquired about his injury. 

           
He explained how he’d been injured and how long recovery was expected to take. “But you know,” he told me, “I’ve been limping around the office, and a colleague finally told me to stop feeling sorry for myself, wash my vagina, and get back to court!”

           
This particular man self-identifies as a progressive, a committed civil libertarian, and as someone who works tirelessly on behalf of his clients—who are, almost without exception poor, and, often as not, people of color. He truly cares about his clients, about due process and equal protection. But I guess he didn’t realize his comment, in addition to its sheer vulgarity, belied some of his closely held beliefs about half of all people: the ones with the vaginas.


It would have been easy to march back to my office and fume in silence. Instead, I spit out, “When you say things like that, you demean women. You make us out to be less than men.”


Stammering, he apologized. He did look contrite. “Don’t say it again,” I cautioned him. As I walked down the long hallway of the Superior Court, I wondered, Why d
oes he equate female genitalia with weakness? Why does he equate women with weakness?  Why did he feel comfortable making that comment to me? In front of his intern? 

 

I didn’t seek out this opportunity to educate a colleague on his unconscious bias. But the occasion presented itself, and despite the obvious discomfort, I am pleased that I spoke, and that he seemingly listened. Maybe he kept on saying things like that; maybe he kept on believing that women are subordinate to men. Dirtier than men. Weaker and more cowardly than men. But perhaps he left court that day a little bit enlightened, and I hope he stops and thinks before using crass, gender-specific and demeaning phrases, particularly in a professional setting.

 

This blog post was authored by Rebecca Zipp who is a deputy district attorney in San Diego.

Tags:  gender  lawyers  LCB  male privilege  men  my so-called first world problems  sexism  stories to solutions  women 

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Off the Beaten Partner Track: "It’s Time to Stop Blaming Women for the Gender Pay Gap"

Posted By Jillian Fairchild , Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It’s Time to Stop Blaming Women for the Gender Pay Gap


It is time to stop blaming women for the pay gap. Women have shouldered the bulk of the criticism for the wage gap for years. The results of a new study show that the differences in pay between men and women is actually due to discrimination.

 

In conjunction with the discussion regarding the wage gap between men and women, there have been many reasons given for the differences in pay. In addition to the discussion regarding the biases contributing to the problem, many of these explanations seem to either blame the women themselves or criticize what was deemed to be their natural characteristics.

 

Some of the reasons frequently given for wage inequality include women’s failure to negotiate pay and taking time off to raise children. There have also been some that argue the reason women are paid less is because women tend to choose lower paying jobs. Men, it is thought, choose better paying jobs like science, tech, engineering, and math.  Meanwhile, women become teachers or work for non-profits.

 

One of the other reasons frequently asserted for wage inequality is that women don’t ask for raises. Simply put, women do not get what they deserve because they don’t ask for it. Women are less likely to negotiate for themselves because they are socialized from a young age not to promote their own interests. Also women tend to assume they will be recognized and rewarded for working hard and doing a good job. Unlike men, this theory goes, they haven’t been taught they can ask for more.

 

A recent study debunks this commonly held idea that women are less aggressive negotiators when it comes to pay. A new study shows that women do ask for pay raises just as often as men, but the problem is they are less likely to get them. This study showed that women were 25% less likely than men to get a hike in pay when they asked for it. The researchers noted that they expected the study to show that women were “less pushy” than men, but their findings showed there is discrimination against women.

 

The results of this study show what most women already know - discrimination is a reason for the gender wage gap. Women sense there is discrimination keeping the pay gap in place, but there are entrenched ideas that it is their fault. They are taught that if only they asked for more raises, did not choose family over work, and chose the right careers then they would make more money. However, this study shows that even if women did everything right, there would still be inequality due to discrimination.

 

From now on when we hear someone blaming a woman for getting paid less than a man, then we should speak up. We need to point out there is inherent sexism keeping women from closing the gap that no amount of negotiating can close. We need to stand up for each other until this discrimination no longer exists.

 

This blog was authored by Jillian Fairchild. Jillian is a full-time litigator and full-time mom who spends her spare time trying to keep the princess culture away from her daughter (and failing miserably!).

 

Tags:  Gender Pay Gap  LCB  Off the Beaten Partner Track  wage discrimination  women negotiating salary 

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Guest Blog: "Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

Posted By Mehry Mohseni, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

 

Lawyers Club of San Diego has two new committees – The Reproductive Justice Committee and the Women’s Advocacy Committee. The two are a split of the former Reproductive Rights and Women’s Advocacy Committee. Why the split and why change from reproductive rights to reproductive justice?

 

Many of the victories won under the reproductive rights movement have typically been limited to two topics: access to contraception, and the availability of safe and legal abortion. At the very core of the movement is a desire for these basic rights to be guaranteed under the law. But for many, particularly women of color, the fight does not end there. A much broader set of concerns stems from the barriers for many women in actually realizing these rights.

 

Thus, a change in the movement arose, and the term “reproductive justice” was originally coined to represent the unique fight of women of color for reproductive rights, blended with an ongoing fight for social justice. Reproductive justice moves beyond the focus of individual choice, and closely examines the way in which our communities and government may create inequality for women through limited or no individual reproductive choice.

 

The term Reproductive Justice has been defined as: “The complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.” It’s important to note this movement stretches beyond a woman’s right to limit the number of children, if any, she wishes to have. It also addresses the right a woman has to raise her children with dignity in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.

 

Including the important perspective of a diverse group of women allows the movement to unfold layers of oppression that our communities face, through an intersectional analysis of women's “real life” experiences. Some of these cross-sections include women of color, women with disabilities, incarcerated women, women involved in sex work or sex trade, low-income women, and LGBTQ women.

 

One alarming and complex example of the reproductive justice analysis occurred in Texas in 2011 after state lawmakers decreased funding for family planning services by 66 percent, closing 82 family planning clinics. Not only did low-income women in particular have less access to birth control, but the number of pregnancy-related deaths doubled from 78 in 2010 to 148 in 2011.

 

A task force was created to examine this increase and discovered a shocking statistic - African-American mothers accounted for 11.4 percent of Texas births in 2011 and 2012, but 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths. The task force stated the overall increase in deaths was likely due to a “multitude of factors," including the funding decrease coupled with a lack of affordable health care for low-income women. The reproductive justice framework analyzes the effect of these drastic funding cuts from the perspective of women of color and low-income women who are already at risk of not realizing their full reproductive health needs.

 

I’m excited to Co-Chair the new Reproductive Justice Committee this year and to challenge Lawyers Club members to view reproductive health not just from the legal stand point that we are used to, but in a more complex and broader context of well-being and community. I hope you will join us!

 

(Meetings are held the first Friday of the month at 12:00-1:00p.m. at DLA Piper downtown. Contact Mehry Mohseni or Chelsea Mutual with any questions on how to get involved.)

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with Cage & Miles, LLP and co-chair of the Reproductive Justice Committee. 

 

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive rights  womens advocacy committee  women's advocacy committee 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "The Seven Most Miserable Moments for Women this Election Season"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The Seven Most Miserable Moments for Women this Election Season:

7. Trump mansplains a Muslim woman voter at a town hall-style debate, “We have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on,” after she poses a question about combating Islamophobia.

6. The vice presidential debate, during which the word “women” was uttered 20 times in connection with the following topics:

  • In reference to reproductive freedom: 13
  • Men and women in military service: 2
  • Quoting Donald Trump’s descriptions of individual women: 2
  • Men and women in law enforcement: 1
  • Quoting Hillary Clinton on women’s rights: 1
  • Women as political colleagues: 1

Based on this breakdown: Women are 66% reproductive chamber, 10% objects of male ridicule, 24% human people.

5. The selection of Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana, as major party’s VP nominee. Mr. Pence is so hostile toward abortion that recent legislation in Indiana mandating funerals or cremation for miscarried fetuses and barring abortion in cases of fetal abnormalities gave rise to the “Periods for Pence” movement. This, in a state where public funding of abortion is prohibited except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest; state law limits private insurance coverage of abortion; parental consent is required, and women are subject to an 18-hour waiting period after receiving mandated counseling on fetal pain.


4. #Repealthe19th – After realizing that Trump would win the election if the right to vote were reserved to men only, Trump supporters (male and female) took to Twitter with this hashtag, claiming that a Trump victory is more important than suffrage. Fortunately, they haven’t advocated #Repealthe13th. (At least, not as of press time.)


3, 2, and 1, in no particular order:

  • A major-party nominee boasts about his sexually assaultive behavior.
  • Political leaders describe their chagrin with the major-party nominee’s boasts in the following ways: “as the father of three daughters” (Mitch McConnell);  “as the grandfather of two precious girls” (Jeb Bush); “Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters . . . ” (Mitt Romney); “[W]e’ve got a 15-year-           old daughter” (Jason Chaffetz); and, even the nominee’s own running-mate Mike Pence chimed in, “[a]s a husband and a father, I was offended.” As shrewdly     observed by Amanda Marcotte on slate.com, these men invoking their wives and daughters, “fram[es] sexual violence as a property crime against male-controlled female bodies, rather than a crime against people with rights.”

Rebecca Zipp is a person. While she derives much joy from her husband and sons, she understands that her intrinsic value as a person does not stem from her status as a wife or mother.

Tags:  Abortion  elections 2016  mansplain  politics  sexual violence  victim-blaming  voting  voting rights  women 

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"Women Hold the Power in this Election - Let's Use It!"

Posted By Jamie Quient, Tuesday, November 8, 2016
 "Women Hold the Power in this Election - Let's Use It!"

On the day of the final presidential debate of this election cycle, my mother-in-law told her classroom of third-grade students something she had never told her students in her twenty-five year teaching career – she said that while ultimately it is up to their parents to decide, she did not think it was a good idea for them to watch the debate.
 
As the debate kicked off, my college roommate from Canada texted me as she pulled up to the couch, popcorn in hand, to watch the best reality show on television.  

While it may seem like we are watching a bad reality show, what is at stake in this election is far too real. Many people are so appalled with this election that they plan to stay home on November 8. It’s hard to blame them. At times this campaign has been appalling – stirring up pockets of racism, xenophobia, anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, and sexism, among other hateful viewpoints.  

While deciding not to vote is also an important right, this election is too important to sit out. 

The bedrock of our society is the right to vote and women fought incredibly hard for this basic right of citizenship. Less than 100 years from when women gained the right to vote, women now have the power to decide who runs this country – from President to City Council; from Congress to School Board. In 2012, nearly 10 million more women than men voted.  And this year, the gender gap is expected to be the largest in history. 

With this power comes responsibility. The first and primary responsibility is to show up and exercise our constitutional right. Staying home would be a disservice to all those who fought for us to have this right nearly 100 years ago.

While an important first step, simply voting will not achieve our mission of women’s advancement. As leaders in the feminist movement, we have a duty to ensure that we elect representatives who will fight for women, justice and equality for all.  

We also have a responsibility to ensure that the people we elect actually advance issues we care about once they are elected. As feminist lawyers, we have a critical role to play in the policy-making process at all levels of government. There are so many issues impacting women that we have the power to influence. 

One of the key areas where women need our help is workplace reforms. According to the United States Department of Labor, women comprise 47% of the total U.S. labor force. Nevertheless, workplaces have been slow to evolve and adapt to the presence of women, who biologically remain responsible for child-bearing and who still shoulder more child-rearing responsibilities than men. Men too want to see workplace reforms that enable them to support their families such as paid family leave and affordable child care.
 
We also need to advocate for polices aimed at eliminating poverty and ensuring economic security for all. Nearly 6 in 10 minimum wage-earners are women. That means that by raising  the minimum wage to a living wage, we are helping women and families.

We must also continue our work to protect women’s reproductive rights and advance other reproductive justice issues.  Reproductive justice goes far beyond the issue of choice – it encompasses all issues relating to women’s social, political and economic power. 

Finally, the Presidential election and a number of recent high profile cases have made the issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault front and center. When the election is over, we must keep these issues at the forefront of the public discourse and stand up to say enough is enough! 

No matter what political party or candidate you support, go vote. Women fought too hard for the right to have a say in our political system to stay home on November 8. And on November 9, the real work begins.

Jamie Quient practices insurance coverage and intellectual property litigation at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLC and is President of Lawyers Club.

Tags:  election day  enough is enough  go vote  LCB 

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Guest Blog: "The Painted Door - Stories of Sex Trafficking Survivors"

Posted By Daphne Delvaux, Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"The Painted Door - Stories of Sex Trafficking Survivors"

 

During the past three years I have organized regular workshops at GenerateHope. GenerateHope is a home where young girls who have been subjected to sex trafficking can live and heal. We have visited this home regularly with a small group of Lawyers Club members. During these visits, it has been our goal to provide the women with a safe environment where they can express their desires and ambitions. Together, we talk about their future, a future often previously considered unattainable. We encourage them to dream again, while brainstorming career paths and proposing practical steps to achieve these objectives. Here are some of the stories from GenerateHope. For privacy purposes, the names have been altered:

 

Eva wants to be a writer. She wants to write a screenplay about her experience being trafficked. She wants to share her story because she wants young women to know, “usually it starts with falling in love with the wrong guy.” She said, “Writing gives you so much freedom.” We encourage her to send us her screenplay so we can review it and provide feedback. Softly, she responds, “I used to think I had no right to have a voice.” 

 

Olivia wants to work in the tech world. As a child, she was isolated, scolded, and abused. She was not allowed to play with other children. She said, “Video games helped me escape my own reality.” Now, as an adult, she wants to create video games herself. She wants to remove the stigma of the female gamer. We encourage her to visit community colleges to learn about technology, and to let us know if she needs help applying for scholarships.

 

Grace wants to go to the police academy. She said she has had bad encounters with the police, and she feels like officers should understand how it feels like to be on the other side. Alternatively, she wants to volunteer with an animal shelter, and search and care for abandoned animals. We connect her with a local dog walker who needs help.

Emily wants to be a cook or a florist. She likes working alone and she likes creating beautiful things. After our visit, we reach out to caterers and florists to ask if she can shadow them for a day.

 

Sophie wants to be able to support her son. She lost her son to “the system” due to her trafficking experiences. She grew up in a foster home. She is upset that her son is also not in a stable environment. She wants to get a job as a barista because she loves people. She then wants to manage and eventually own a coffee shop. She has decided that she will call the coffee shop “The Painted Door.” It will be a place for children without a stable home to gather and play. The children will be allowed to paint the door a different color every day. She wants to provide them with purpose and a community. For herself, all she wants is her son back. She said, “I don’t want to drive a fancy car, I just want to get by, and see my son’s smile every morning.” We tell Sophie we are happy to help her write her resume, look for barista jobs, and prepare for any interviews.

 

I was shocked by my own biased presumptions when I went into this experience. First, I assumed all these women would come from an unstable, neglected, or abusive home. This is not the case; there is no one profile of a trafficking survivor. Second, I assumed trafficked women would mostly be foreign. Turns out I was usually the only foreign-born person in the room. Trafficking is an American issue happening to local girls. Third, I assumed they would be emotionally fragile and reluctant to speak with attorneys. It is true that some were skeptical towards our visit, as most of their interactions with lawyers and law enforcement had been punitive and some of did not feel ready to share their hopes and desires. But overall, these women possess a high level of intelligence, perseverance, strength, and courage. They are eloquent and poised, and ready to take on the world.

 

One constant I discovered is that most women seek a future in care. They want to care for others because they know what it feels like not to be cared for themselves. I always leave feeling humbled and inspired, and ready to pursue life with more compassion, more empathy, and more conviction to help those in need.

 

Daphne Delvaux is an employment lawyer and wrote this on behalf of Lawyers Club's Human Trafficking Collaborative.

Tags:  guest blogger  htc  httf  human trafficking  human trafficking collaborative  LCB  pro bono  volunteering 

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