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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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Top tags: LCB  feminist  feminism  gender  legal profession  Chasing the Last Wave  stories to solutions  equality  guest blogger  women  Off the Beaten Partner Track  sexual harassment  Balance  working mom  career  discrimination  My So-Called First-World Problems  perfection in the imperfection  Art  awareness  bias  reproductive justice  Sts  abortion  authentic  bullying  diversity  enough is enough  gender discrimination  last wave 

Guest Blog: "Consider the numbers, but let the stories move you"

Posted By Angelica Sciencio, Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2016
I have always strolled peacefully at the intersection of white and black, foreign and homegrown, poor and prosperous. I have heard about many injustices but experienced few.  So like you, I usually scroll through my news feed glancing over lives lost, vocalized racism, masked xenophobia and just plain bigotry. I usually feel sad but somewhat detached from that reality, so I shrug and move on to the puppy videos. But not today.

Today, I cried. I saw the video of Philando Castile bleeding in front of his girlfriend, a child, a cop, and a camera phone. I read about the protests, police officers getting shot and I felt extreme sadness. But what took me over the edge to tears were the excusatory comments from my “friended”, the news headlines, the opportunistic political advances and above all, my own inaction.

I thought about posting #blacklivesmatter on my feed, but I wondered if people would think I was playing victim. You see, I am a foreign-born-woman-of-mixed-race.  My black father was a policeman, who was murdered by a white guy.

Despite that drama, I have always lived in this perpetual middle of the road that has shielded me from extremes. I am black enough to have been made fun of for my hair and to prevent closet-racist friends from using slurs in my presence, but not too black to be stopped and frisked for no reason, to be thrown in jail for minor violations or to be shot in my car. I am foreign enough to have worked long hours at various undesirable jobs for minimum wage and will probably forever mess up my prepositions, but I am not too foreign to make people anxious when I board a plane or to be called a terrorist because of the way I dress or the language I speak. I am poor enough to get my yoga classes on Groupon and to buy dog food on sale, but not too poor to be chastised for using government assistance to feed myself and my family.  I am womanly enough to have been called “doll” and “love” by former male bosses, to have been told to smile more times then I can count, but not a woman who was prevented from getting an education and trying to succeed in a male-dominated profession. And thank heavens I am straight for that I have always been allowed to love and marry (and subsequently divorce) whoever I damned pleased. Don’t get me wrong: it hasn’t been easy, but it has been possible.

My point is: I am part of pretty much every minority group out there, and I don’t even understand what they go through. But I try. When (sometimes unwillingly) I enter into discrimination discussions with more privileged, sheltered friends, I feel the need to formulate arguments based on statistics, logical reasoning and contradictions by the other side. But maybe we shouldn’t have to bring up the numbers to convince. Perhaps, we should just listen and give the other side the benefit of the doubt. 

If you have been blessed with opportunities to succeed, and are tempted to believe that everyone in the world has had the same, do yourself a favor lest you sound like a fool: consider the historical oppression of certain people, the widespread institutional discrimination of certain groups and most importantly, listen to the stories. Then, concoct and implement your own moral affirmative action: give those who have traditionally had less (money, opportunities, freedom, respect, rights) just a little extra love and support.  If we shoot for equity, not equality, we might not need hashtags to shine a light on systemic racism and other inequities. For now, however, #blacklivesmatter, #equalpay, #reproductiverights, #stopbullying, #loveislove. 


This post was authored by Angelica Sciencio, an Immigration Attorney at Law Office of Angelica Sciencio and co-chair of the Diverse Women’s Committee. 

 

Tags:  advocacy  discrimination  diverse women's committee  diversity  guest blogger  LCB  race  social media 

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Trial by Fire: "What's the issue, hun?"

Posted By Mallory Holt, Monday, July 18, 2016
Updated: Monday, July 18, 2016

 

"What's the issue, hun?"

It goes without saying that first year associates often find themselves in situations they are unsure how to handle. Some are expected, like the hesitation that comes with meeting and conferring at your first deposition. Others are not, such as finding yourself off balance because you lack the proper response—or any response at all—to an older (and presumably wiser) attorney’s disrespectful commentary. When I have encountered these scenarios, the disparity in years of practice between us complicates the situation and my ability to address the conduct.

 

During a recent phone call to opposing counsel I was repeatedly and exclusively addressed as “hun.” Having never been an “I am woman, hear me roar” type of gal, I was taken aback both by the fact that someone was addressing me in such a disrespectful manner and that it offended me as much as it did. Needless to say, I could not think of the appropriate response during that phone call.

 

To help develop an approach for addressing similar situations in the future, I reached out to strong female attorneys who have mentored me in the past. I sought their advice on whether these issues are worth addressing and, if so, how to go about it. Their guidance yielded the following considerations:

 

  • These scenarios should be addressed professionally, remembering that our legal community is very small. Do not make a scene, reprimand them in public, or become overly confrontational. Politely tell them they can address you by your last name, and similarly, never address opposing counsel by their first name unless invited to do so.
  • Keep your client’s best interest in mind at all times. Will correcting the situation put you at ease so that you can more effectively represent your client? Or, will confronting the issue distract you from the task at hand? Choose the course of conduct that will serve to advance your efforts in the case.
  • Recognize that the comment may be an attempt to bully, rather than a truly sexist remark. In an effort to assert dominance or to control a situation, disrespectful remarks may be made based on sex, age, experience, or appearance. If opposing counsel is trying to get under your skin and throw you off your game, confronting the issue may validate their efforts and encourage continued remarks.
  • There is no categorical “strong” response. Commitment to effective representation is the “strong” response. This may come in the form of addressing the remark or allowing it to roll off your back, unacknowledged. 

 

While the “appropriate” response will be a personal, case-by-case determination, I feel prepared to more confidently confront these circumstances with these tips to guide my way.


This blog post was authored by Mallory Holt

Tags:  associate  disrespect  feminism  feminist  lawyer  LCB  professionalism  trial by fire  young attorney 

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Off the Beaten Partner Track

Posted By Jillian Fairchild, Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It’s no secret that there are significantly fewer female partners in law firms than their male counterparts. According to the American Bar Association, women make up approximately 50% of law school enrollment and more than half of the J.D.s that are eventually awarded. When women start out as associates they make up about 44.7% of the attorneys in private practice. However, women only make up 21.5% of the partners and 18% of the equity partners in law firms.

 

Staying on the partner track becomes infinitely more difficult when there aren’t very many role models to look to as examples. This is especially true when you plan on having children. At my last two law firms, there were two women partners and only one of them had children. I have worked at law firms where no one in a management position had children at all. When there are so few women in leadership roles at law firms, it is difficult to picture yourself successfully rising to that level. When I started at my current firm, I made sure that there were several women at the firm in general and women in partnership roles.

 

I have also encountered circumstances where some women associates take a backseat after having children. When I asked why this was the case, I was told that I could have this too if I wanted to make less money and go on the “mommy track”. Just referring to this choice as the “mommy track” was offensive to me. These women associates are frequently putting in the same time and effort. This is especially true when their cases have out-of-town appearances and pending trial dates.

 

Women should not have to decide between the “mommy track” and the partnership track. Men also have children, but no one ever asks them if they want to go on the “daddy track”. It is expected that if men have children that they will continue along the partner track after the baby is born. Some measure of flexibility in work hours would also be helpful. We are lucky enough to work in a profession in which work can be done after hours and from home. Women (and all) attorneys should be able to take advantage of this.

 

This would be very clear if there were more women in positions of authority at law firms. The confidence of women in their ability to reach that level would grow. Women attorneys would have someone to look toward as an example. Overall, and perhaps most importantly, there would be more confidence in the legal community that women can succeed and thrive in leadership positions

This blog post was authored by Jillian Fairchild

Tags:  LCB  motherhood  off the beaten partner track  partner track  partners  partnership  partnership diversity  women dropping out 

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Student's Corner: "Networking 101: Teamwork"

Posted By Courtney Strange, Monday, July 11, 2016
Updated: Monday, July 11, 2016

Networking 101: Teamwork

Unfamiliar. Uncomfortable. Unnerving. Three words law students often use to describe “networking.” Overcoming those hurdles requires time, a rather limited resource. Luckily, Lawyers Club is intentionally structured to guide attorneys and law students over and around hurdles such as these, that inhibit the advancement of women in law and society. Personally, I have learned that taking full advantage of being a Lawyers Club member requires teamwork. In fact, it has been clear to me from day one that each attorney or judge I interact with remembers being in my shoes. That familiarity seems to lead Lawyers Club members to do what they can to help students like me achieve my individual goals.

 

I wasn’t even a law student when I found myself standing alone in the corner of the lobby outside the ballroom at the U.S. Grant, awaiting the start of the Equal Pay Day luncheon. There, I met a recent law grad holding her brand new baby girl. We bonded over our mutual awkward feelings—I wasn’t even completely sure I was allowed to be at this event. But, we both had enough courage to show up, Lawyers Club welcomed us with open arms, and we fell right into place at our respective stages in the journey to becoming the lawyer we each want to be.

 

This woman, (and each woman and man I met in this organization since that first luncheon), has become part of my “team,” whether they realize it or not. I am constantly blown away with the amazing opportunities I have been offered, and how close I am to realizing a decade-long dream. I look forward to the day when I can celebrate with my “team” and share stories about how each individual played a key role in my success. I also very much enjoy sharing my experience with my fellow classmates. For example, I recently introduced a new friend and classmate to “members of my team” at the Red, White, and Brew. He is a charming individual who came up to me before class and said, “I need to network. I hear you’re the person to talk to.” He mingled with attendees as easily as I knew he would, but being at his first networking event, he was incredibly grateful to have me and another friend as a networking team as we moved about the room. Hurdles leaped, together.

 

So, thanks, team! Law students: Go find your “team.” All: Got a story about your “team?”


This blog post was authored by Courtney Strange


Tags:  law student  LCB  networking  student's corner  team 

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Chasing the Last Wave

Posted By Molly Tami, Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Gloria Steinem contends that gender is probably the most restricting force in American life. Many believe that it is certainly the most restricting force in the legal profession. To be sure, we’ve come a long way since former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor graduated third in her class at Stanford in 1953, but the only job she was offered was legal secretary.  And since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG!) received not one offer from a law firm despite tying for first in her graduating class from Columbia Law in 1959. (She instead accepted a clerkship with a federal judge.) Those were definitely not the good old days for women in the law. As a result of the feminist movement, we’ve come a long way, but we all agree that we are not there yet. We need the “last wave” of feminism to get us there. 

 

A very short history lesson on the feminist movement in the U.S. sets the stage. Feminism, in its different waves, arose to achieve political, social, and economic equality for women.  First wave feminism, in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, focused on suffrage and other legal rights. Second wave feminism, which began in the 1960’s and continued in the 1990’s, was a reaction against the renewed imposition of domesticity on women after WWII, and focused on women in the workplace (as well as sexuality, family and reproductive rights). Third wave feminism, dating from the early 90’s to the present, found a more diverse group of women with a diverse set of identities challenging gender stereotypes and continuing to fight for many of the causes of the second-wavers. Some feminist scholars are now envisioning a fourth wave to reframe the movement.

 

A pivotal moment on the road to gender equality occurred in 1972 with the passage of Title IX.  As the result of that groundbreaking law, the doors to law schools and the legal profession were flung wide open. Benefiting from that development and riding the second wave, I graduated from Berkeley Law in 1983. I never imagined at that time that gender would shape my experience in the profession. While by many measures I have enjoyed a successful legal career, I have no doubt that gendered work arrangements and gender roles restricted my potential just as they continue to restrict the potential of many women lawyers today.   

 

In my current role, I advise both men and women law students about their careers and professional development.They graduate from law school on generally equal footing. But when I consider the various statistics on the current status of women in the profession, I worry that their paths will diverge. So I plan to explore in this blog various aspects of the state of women in the profession along with the challenges that prevent women from being equal participants in all sectors of our profession. I’ll tackle issues like wage disparity, lack of women’s retention and advancement in law firms, the work/family conflict and the like. I won’t be presenting anything novel nor will I necessarily have solutions. But we must keep talking about these issues if we are to ever solve them.  


When it comes to gender equality in the legal profession, we are definitely still “chasing the last wave.” Let’s chase it together.  

This blog post was authored by Molly Tami

Tags:  advancement  career  challenges  Chasing the Last Wave  equality  feminism  feminist  gender  last wave  LCB  legal profession  Title IX 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "Work vs. Life vs. Me"

Posted By Megan O'Neill, Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Work vs. Life vs. Me

As a little girl, I wasn’t really interested in dolls or playing house. I played business. I loved setting up my desk and rubber stamping paper and answering calls, taking notes – I loved it all. Someone might suggest that I was influenced by my parents, however, my dad was a pastor (not a traditional office environment), and while I have memories of being a “latch-key kid,” my mother is quick to remind me that she stayed home until I was in 6th grade (then she went on to conquer the world of health care). So, while my parents have been an enormous influence on me and my career goals, I take pride in and embrace my innate young work ethic and ambitions!


In the years to come, I did well in high school and college and, professionally, fell into what has become a career that I absolutely love. In my single days I relished in the late nights preparing for depositions and trials and felt a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Passing the CPA exam was par for the course in my career path and I felt like I was that little girl again at a desk, taking on the world.


THEN, I met a (wonderful and loving) man who equally loves his career (firefighter), and we got married. THEN, one year later (2012), we welcomed our first daughter and three years to the day after that (2015), we welcomed our second daughter.  These new amazing and fantastic life events have created a great deal of internal struggle for me as I try to continue to stay the course of my dream professional life, as well as explore my new roles that I love as wife and mother. To complicate matters a little more, our oldest daughter has a rare medical condition complete with seizures, making childcare a great deal more complicated. 


I have felt that my home life needed to be in direct competition with work, or vice versa. That having one meant that the other was sacrificed. Admittedly, I felt as though I was truly failing for the first time in my life. I love my career and where it is going, yet at the same time, I absolutely LOVE being a wife and mother and how in the world do I get all of these moving parts to move together?


Then it hit me. To me it’s not about “doing it all” or “having it all,” because inevitably, something is sacrificed in the pursuit of something else – creating competition where it’s just not necessary, and maybe I just don’t want “to do it ALL.” Lately for me it’s rather the “balance” that is spoken about ad nauseam, or a better word that I bring from my career is “collaboration.”  We talk about collaboration all of the time in our cases, so how can my career ambitions work with my home life (or vice versa) to foster an environment of, well I’ll just say it, kum-ba-ya. 


I don’t believe that there is an absolute right or wrong way to be true to oneself while staying true to family and work. I also expect that I need to be able to ebb and flow with any new challenges in work or life that come my way. I feel that by viewing these pieces of the puzzle not with an end product in mind that are “competing” for perfect placement, but as “pieces of me” that continue to collaboratively shape who I am, that I am at peace with me, my work and my family.  


This blog post was authored by Megan O'Neill

 

Tags:  collaboration  having it all  LCB  perfection in the imperfection  working mom  worklife balance 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "Trials"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Monday, June 27, 2016
Updated: Monday, June 27, 2016

Trials


When I told my then-boss I was pregnant with my second child, he had one question for me. “How are you going to do trials with two kids?” The audacity of the question struck a nerve; I was certain that none of my male colleagues had ever been asked the same question. 

 Four years later, here’s a retrospective on how to do trials (or any other challenging professional thing) because -*gasp*- it is possible.

1. A supportive husband. Yeah, well, it’s a cliché because it is true.

I left the meeting with my boss knowing I had something to prove. So, in my first full calendar year back at work, I tried a dozen cases. My husband picked up the slack. And picked up the children. And dropped off the children. Because I was always in trial. Once, after sending a jury out to deliberate, I left the courtroom and discovered a message from daycare on my voicemail. It was the standard “sick baby, come get him” message. I was relieved my case had concluded so that I could pick up the baby for once. Thankfully, before court recessed, we had agreed to address any jury questions via conference calls. I retrieved the baby from daycare and we sat in my office and I answered jury questions over the phone. The court reporter loved the baby’s interjections!

2. Understood my own limitations. I didn’t reenter the trial world until Baby Zipp the Second was ten months old. By then, he was regularly emptying the dishwasher, in charge of cleaning the bathrooms, and generally contributing to the smooth operation of the household. His older brother was three, able to pour himself a bowl of cereal in the morning, and fold his own laundry. So life had become, in a word, seamless.

3. Gave in. I am a whole person, not a trial robot.  Once, after winning a case, I picked up my child from day care, looked at him and realized he could care less. He did not care that I won. He would not care if I lost. It’s nice to have somebody in your life who does not give a fig about your professional successes or failures. My somebodies are my kids, and I can only compartmentalize them so much. Look, you can skip the Tuesday bath, and maybe the Wednesday bath, but by Thursday, you gotta do the bath. Having to attend to the minutiae of non-work areas of our lives can help in terms of gaining a little perspective, as well as a reprieve. 


4. 
Worked sick. Generally speaking, working sick is more practical than trying to work when the child is sick. When the child is sick, someone has to stay at home.  When mom is sick, mom can power through. (Except once I had pneumonia and couldn’t work. So I didn’t – see Item 2.)

*

My boss’ question was ridiculous. If only I had had the presence of mind of former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder (D-CO), I would have told him, “I have a brain and I have a uterus and fortunately, they both work.”

This blog post was authored by Rebecca Zipp

 

Tags:  balance  blog  kids  lawyer  LCB  My So-Called First-World Problems  working mom 

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LCB: ...3, 2, 1... Blog Launch!

Posted By Deborah Dixon, Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lawyers Club is proud to launch LCB, the Lawyers Club Blog. The goal behind LCB is to generate a creative space for Lawyers Club members to provide personal insight, experience, and expression. A team of bloggers, our “writers-in-residence,” are already hard at work to bring you fresh views on topics related to the LC mission to advance the status of women in the law and society. LCB will cover everything from students’ perspectives to the history of feminism. The blogs will be available to the public, but only Lawyers Club members will be able to comment. LCB will generate thought-provoking content that is dynamic, interactive and driven by our members. With time, we hope that the content will help us build a community that’s entrenched in the Lawyers Club mission.

In addition to posts by our writers-in-residence, we will also welcome committee-related submissions. If you are interested in writing for LCB, contact Blog Editor Kristin Beattie at beattiebecker@yahoo.com. To subscribe and receive notifications when a new LCB post is available, click here


This blog post was authored by Deborah Dixon, President 2015-2016

Tags:  blog  Blog Launch  LCB 

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