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Lawyers Club of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use 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 authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome. Guidelines for writers may be found on the Leadership Resources page.


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The Myth of Pay Parity

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, 7 hours ago
Updated: 18 hours ago

Today is Black’s Women Equal Pay Day. It is not a day for celebration. Instead, a day of concern. A Black woman must work 20 months to earn the same $1.00 that men earned in 2019. Native American women will have to work 21 months for the same dollar and Latina women 23 months. Asian women earn the same dollar in 14 months.

If we narrow the focus to the pay gap in the legal industry by gender, women lawyers in an uncontrolled salary environment earn $0.64 and in a controlled salary environment earn $1.00. (The State of the Gender Gap in 2020). “Uncontrolled –or ‘raw’ gender pay gap, looks at the median salary for all men and women regardless of job type or worker seniority” versus a controlled salary environment which is when all “compensable factors such as experience, industry and job level are accounted…”. (Ibid.)

The reality that in a controlled salary environment, women in the legal field can have pay parity with their male counterparts, offers hope. Therefore, law firms must choose to review their compensation practices to ensure women and men receive equal pay for equal work, and ensure opportunities for advancement for women.

This is easily done if law firms ensure transparency exists in every step of the compensation process. (Ibid.) “Pay transparency is about organizations sharing information about their pay practices, decision-making and using a data-driven approach that emphasizes the work versus a person’s demographics. (Ibid.)

Lawyers Club is proud to advocate for this transparency to ensure pay parity for all.


Yahairah Aristy is a Deputy Public Defender, and is the 2020-2021 president of Lawyers Club of San Diego.


Tags:  Black women  Black Women Equal Pay Day  equal pay  gender pay gap  legal field  legal profession  pay parity  salary 

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Being My Own Boss

Posted By Guest Blogger Brenda Lopez, Tuesday, August 11, 2020
At a young age I realized I was different. I started kindergarten not knowing any English in a predominantly White community. While my parents consistently encouraged me to work hard to achieve my goals, society was not always so supportive. When I decided I wanted to become a lawyer and was preparing for the LSAT, people told me I would not make it. When I was preparing to take the California Bar Examination, people told me I would not pass the test. 

I was sworn in and quickly began the job hunt. After a few months of searching for jobs unsuccessfully, I decided to start my own law practice under the mentorship of an established family law attorney. I also volunteered at San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program’s domestic violence restraining order clinic. At the beginning of my career, I was often mistaken for a self-represented litigant or a Spanish interpreter. Many (older) male attorneys would talk down to me, saying things like, “Sweetie, I don’t know how long you have been practicing but . . . ,” or, “Honey, I have been practicing for 20 years and the court would never order that . . . .”


Photo showing sunny day on San Diego bay, with a laptop open in the foreground.
A few years later, I transitioned into working for a mid-size firm in San Diego. In almost six years’ time, I gained invaluable litigation experience and became certified in family law. However, once again I believed my worth was questioned and that I was underestimated. I saw two choices: Work for another firm, or re-open my solo practice – I chose the latter. 

I set up my solo practice in three-day’s time, with the COVID-19 global pandemic encompassing every aspect of our lives. How would my solo practice be affected? I questioned whether I would be able to build a book of business. I quickly silenced the voice in my head telling me, “I cannot do this,” and focused on establishing myself. To my surprise, the calls came immediately. Despite the pandemic, my family law practice is alive and well. I am blessed to be able to continue to make a living doing what I love, but with a much better view.

The pandemic, like many other life altering events, reminded me that life is short. Going solo is not easy but it is also not impossible. The biggest difference between going solo at the beginning of my career and going solo now, is the experience I have and the relationships I have made. I am grateful to have wonderful people who immediately offered their support. Instead of questioning whether I could do it, they reminded me that I could do anything . . . so I did. 

Brenda Lopez is a Certified Family Law Specialist and serves as Co-Chair of the Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Gender Equity Committee. She is also a Director for both the San Diego County Bar Association and San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association Scholarship Fund.


Tags:  certified family law specialist  COVID-19  family law  San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program  SDVLP  solo firm  solo practice 

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Protecting Our Children

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, August 7, 2020
Updated: Thursday, August 6, 2020
The vulnerabilities of children are not lost to many in our society. We all are able to recognize that, when interacting with children, care, patience, and thoughtfulness are key. It was, then, shocking when our community learned that this past Sunday, six girls, ages six to 17 years old were made to lay down on the ground face down with guns drawn against them, and the oldest girls were handcuffed by Colorado police officers. Certainly, if a parent were to make their child lay on the ground with a gun drawn, it is not a stretch of the imagination that the consequences would involve arrest and prosecution.

Experiences like this are called Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). The Center for Disease Control explains that four or more ACEs substantially increase the risk of negative physical and mental health outcomes for children as they become adults. As lawyers we have the opportunity to help ensure ACEs of this kind do not happen by using our voice to advocate for the improvement of the administration of justice. We can write letters, make calls, or simply support organizations that are committed to improving the lives of children and families.

Lawyers Club is proud to advocate for the well-being of women and children through our Fund for Justice. Annually Lawyers Club selects grantees that address social and legal issues related to our mission and the unmet legal needs of females, particularly programs that support and improve the administration of justice.


Yahairah Aristy is a Deputy Public Defender, and is the 2020-2021 president of Lawyers Club of San Diego.


Tags:  adverse childhood experience  advocacy  cdc  children  community  fund for justice  gun violence  justice  legal profession 

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What's That on Your Face?

Posted By Guest Blogger Alex Hopson, Wednesday, August 5, 2020

As a woman, I can tell you that one of the things I despise the most when getting ready for work is not the fact that I have to change my shirt a third time because the first option was terrible and now I’ve spilt coffee on the second one, it is the fact that I have to spend time putting on makeup. Personally, I find it time consuming, boring, and expensive. Actually, on average did you know that women spend $300,000.00 in their lifetimes on makeup? That’s roughly $315 per month (*queue panic calculating*). In fact, the United States is home to the largest beauty and personal care market in the world, and in 2019, it was valued at about 93.35 billion U.S. dollars. WOW!! The real question however, is out of the $300,000.00 or more you may spend on beauty products in a lifetime, do you actually know what you are putting on your face?

Luckily for those of us who buy beauty products in California, we are somewhat protected by Proposition 65 and the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 (“CSCA”). Or are we? Proposition 65, better known as the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986,” provided that California would be required to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Fast forward to the CSCA of 2005, which requires the manufacturer of a cosmetic product subject to regulation by the federal Food and Drug Administration that is sold in this state to provide the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control within the State Department of Public Health with a complete and accurate list of its cosmetic products that, as of the date of submission, are sold in the state and that contain any ingredient that is a chemical identified as causing cancer or reproductive toxicity. If that seems longwinded, wait until you check out the list—on second thought, don’t. The list is also supposed to be user friendly… I checked, it is not.

The problem with these past attempts at trying to protect people from harmful chemicals, is that federal law only requires that companies list on the product generic terms like “fragrance” or “flavor.” Unfortunately, there are over 4,000 “fragrance” ingredients and over 3,000 “flavor” ingredients, which include masking chemicals with classifications of carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, asthmagens, neurotoxicants, allergens, and other chemicals of concern. In the US roughly around 96 percent of shampoos, conditioners and hair styling products contain “fragrance.” At best, Prop 65 and the CSCA of 2005 attempted to put carcinogen and reproductive toxins on a user-friendly list, which did not quite hit the mark. Also, how many of you are willing to download a list on your phone, which is hundreds of pages long, and search each product you are interested in while standing in the aisles of Target, in your mask, begging your children (or dog) not to touch things? The answer is no one. No one wants to do that.

So now we come to the Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019, which is working its way through the California State Assembly. Under this new expansion of the CSCA, manufacturers of cosmetic products will be required to report flavor and fragrance ingredients in their products that are deemed toxic according to any of a set of specified lists published by regulatory authorities. Manufactures must also disclose if the product is for retail or professional use, giving everyone a choice, regardless if the product is for home or for their business.

We need this now more than ever, because with everything going on in our world, this is another thing that disproportionately attacks those most vulnerable. Everyone is at risk of harmful chronic health concerns from secret fragrance chemicals, but particularly vulnerable populations like kids, communities of color, pregnant women, and workers in the beauty industry. The presence of unknown, unlabeled toxicants is cause for serious concern because scientific evidence suggests that unsafe chemical exposures in our everyday lives add up to harm to human health and the environment.

So, I ask again, what’s that on your face? Do you know? If you don’t, there is no need to panic! I’ve put together a small list of places and products, here in San Diego that will allow you to find something without all the toxic chemicals included. Also, if you would like to support a black-owned business, California Women Lawyers put together this resource list, separating out businesses based on product sold. 

Alex Hopson is a Kansas native, 3L at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, member of the Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Advocacy and Reproductive Justice Committee, and amateur cat photographer.


Tags:  allergens  beauty  beauty industry  beauty products  chemicals  cosmetics  CSCA  Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease  environment  health  ingredients  legislation  legislature  makeup  parabens  Prop 65  SB 574  SB574  shopping  State Department of Public Health 

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Civil Rights Leader Inspired When a Woman Said No

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, July 31, 2020
Updated: Thursday, July 30, 2020
When Rosa Parks was asked to sit at the back of the bus—she said No. Her doing so changed the late 14-term United States Congressman John Lewis’ life forever, said Lewis in an interview recorded in January 2020 and re-posted on July 19, 2020 in the podcast What It Takes Academy of Achievement. Lewis was no stranger to acknowledging the influence women had in the civil rights movement. He stated “I truly think and believe women were discriminated against. They did all of the work; they did the heavy lifting. They were kept back.” (September 21, 2016 Roundtable on Voting Rights). 

Inspired by Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a young Lewis began his civil rights journey not knowing he will become a civil rights leader with a philosophy of non-violence while making “good trouble, necessary trouble”. When asked “what shall I do” Lewis advised “Find a way to follow the dictates of your conscience. Find your inner compass and follow it. Do what is right. Be kind. Don’t hate, love is a better way. Don’t become cynical. Forget about your own circumstances and find a way to get involved in the circumstances of others. Try to do something to serve the common good, and don’t be afraid.”

Congressman Lewis’ advice is advice we can all take as we continue to advocate for equality of women through Service, Inclusion and Advocacy. May he rest in peace.


Yahairah Aristy is a Deputy Public Defender, and is the 2020-2021 president of Lawyers Club of San Diego.


Tags:  advocacy  civil rights  civil rights movement  congressman john lewis  equality  inclusion  leader  martin luther king jr  rosa parks  service  women  women's advocacy 

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3 Tips for Mothers During Quarantine

Posted By Guest Blogger Jylan Megahed, Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Needless to say, we are living in an unprecedented time. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused havoc in what feels like the majority of households, especially for mothers. The overall welfare of our children is our top priority. We are taking directions from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The San Diego County and California Public Health Official has adopted the CDC directions.

While our governor and mayor are doing their best to maintain our safety and "flatten the curve," there is very little valuable guidance on how to navigate 24/7 parenting during a lockdown. How do we function during a crisis within confined space?

Here are three tips:

1) Be open to the input of your co-parent or anyone assisting you with childcare. 

As an attorney, one might not like to admit that opposing counsel has better ideas than us. If you are anything like me, then you'll understand that I love to be in control of every aspect of my life, and weigh the pros and cons for any situation. Often times, I find myself arguing my point until there is a majority vote in my favor. During quarantine, I learned that I need to let go of that control, and simply be open-minded. Perhaps this new idea offered by your co-parent can become a new routine. You must trust that your co-parent also has the best interest of your child in mind. Give yourself a break, and be inspired. Worst c

ase, you can lawyer your co-parent later on how you are always right. Ha ha, just kidding.


2) Engage in parenting support groups.

Technology has allowed us to connect with folks all over the world. From Facebook to TikTok, you can literally find any type of support group. Personally, I enjoy spending at least 45 minutes a day engaging with other adults online – reading contrasting perspectives, (especially lawyers who believe COVID-19 is a conspiracy theory), reading comments about life-hacks. I enjoy offering my own wisdom and words of encouragement to those who seem to be struggling durin

g quarantine. The sole purpose is to keep me engaged with others, even if it is to complain about my boring day.

3) Incorporate "me-time" in your schedule.
If you are like me, you still feel that there is not enough time in the day to accomplish all of the things on your to-do list. One time, I decided to wake up at 4:00 a.m. so I can get a head start while there was peace and quiet from the family and contractors around the house. I won't say that this was a mistake. But, I probably 
inline skates resting on concrete
won't do it again anytime soon. So, what does "me-time" look like for you? For me, I recently purchased roller blades, and have been re-learning how to use them in my neighborhood. If you try this, you may get some bruises, but it’s definitely a fun activity to explore with or without your children.


What makes the aforementioned my top three? They emphasize tolerance of contrasting viewpoints, engagement with others, and investing energy in yourself. If you actually follow all three tips, then you will be more mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to be there for your children.


Jylan Megahed owns the family law practice, Megahed, Esq., Inc. “My Legal Warrior” (Trademark pending) and is Co-Chair of the Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Membership Development Committee.



Tags:  children  connection  co-parent  coronavirus  COVID-19  marriage  mental health  me-time  parenting  support groups 

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Consequences of Anti-Feminism

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, July 24, 2020
Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2020

Feminism the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

When self-proclaimed anti-feminist Roy Den Hollander intending to kill Esther Salas, the first Latina woman to serve as United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, instead killed her son, 20 year-old Daniel Anderl and injured her husband, Mark Anderl, judges and citizens around our nation mourned this stark reminder of the vulnerabilities of being a woman judge. These vulnerabilities serve as a powerful reminder that women judges, though they wear the black robe, are not immune from the callousness of people who do not believe women's rights are human rights.

As of August 2019, the appointment of women to Article III courts did not reflect the gender makeup of the United States. (Building a More Inclusive Federal Judiciary (October 2019). In fact, 60 percent of all judges were white males. (Ibid.) People of color, women, and queer people were respectively 20 percent, 27 percent, and 1 percent of all sitting judges. This despite, 40 percent of people of color, 51 percent of women, and 4.5 percent of queer people live in the United States. (Ibid.)

Seeing a woman of color, a double minority, targeted five days ago because of her gender and race is a grim reminder that the fight for the equality of women is far from over.


Yahairah Aristy is a Deputy Public Defender, and is the 2020-2021 president of Lawyers Club of San Diego.


Tags:  equity  feminism  gender equality  judge  women of color  women's advocacy 

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A Champion for Women's Rights

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Saturday, July 18, 2020
Updated: Friday, July 17, 2020
A guardian of justice, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has served for over 25 years in the United States Supreme Court. She is the second female of only four women appointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 231-year history. Prior to being appointed, she served for 13 years as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Before her judicial service, Justice Ginsburg’s career significantly focused on advocating for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights. A tenacious advocate, she won five out of six gender discrimination cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Her tenacity is also seen in her fight against cancer since 1999. She successfully fought her battle against cancer four times, whether it was colon, pancreatic, or lung cancer. In January 2020, Justice Ginsburg announced that she was cancer free.

So, when Justice Ginsburg was hospitalized on Monday, July 13, concern for her and women’s rights were at the forefront of my mind. In fact, my heart sank because if she is not on the U.S. Supreme Court, women’s rights are in peril. It appears I was not alone in this reaction. I have heard many friends and colleagues express relief that Justice Ginsburg was out of the hospital and doing well.

Justice Ginsburg embodies this year's theme of Service, Inclusion & Advocacy. Her tireless service and advocacy have created a more inclusive society for women, and we all can learn from her. 


Yahairah Aristy is a Deputy Public Defender, and is the 2020-2021 president of Lawyers Club of San Diego.


Tags:  justice ruth bader ginsburg  RBG  Supreme Court  US Supreme Court  women's advocacy 

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We’ve Got You – Financial Steps Through COVID

Posted By Bridget Venus Grimes for The Money Confidante, Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Many of us have more on our plates than ever. In addition to the challenges posed by COVID-19 on our personal lives, there has been much upheaval in the legal world and we’ve been called upon to adjust almost every aspect of how we conduct business. We are going to look at steps you should take now, to make sure you stay on track financially.


For many, income has changed. You may have had your pay cut, your bonus deferred, your promotion put on hold. Here is what you should be doing now if your income has been impacted:

  • Now is the time to use your emergency fund. This should be three months of fixed expenses for dual-income households, and six months of fixed expenses for single-income households.
  • Look at refinancing your debt or consider forbearance. Contact your loan service providers to understand all options. Special consideration is given for student loan debt.
  • Reduce extra savings or debt payments. Try to continue to contribute to your 401k if possible, but cut if you must. If you are paying debt down quicker, now might be the time to pay only what you need to.

This is the time to conserve cash, since no one knows what the next quarter or two might look like financially. You can take these steps to prepare for financial uncertainty:

  • Review your budget. Know where you are spending money and where you can cut expenses. Consider stopping savings for retirement, education, any discretionary goals if you are concerned about money.
  • Consider alternate sources of income. The CARES Act provides for financial relief. This could mean taking distributions from your retirement funds, applying for the Payroll Protection Program, or any number of tax relief options the Act provides for. There is a lot provided for under the Act, so read up on this, or contact us and we’ll share a worksheet we have.
  • Take steps as a business owner to conserve cash. Talk to your bank and negotiate lines of credit, talk to vendors to negotiate payments, and speak to clients to encourage payment quicker. Do a full review of your business budget to look for places to cut expenses.

If your financial life has been disrupted, this is a good time to organize it. I know you don’t need any more to do, but knowing what you have will help you see what needs to be addressed to be financially secure. We suggest these steps to organize your financial life:

  • Know where everything is and what it is worth. If push comes to shove and you need to access cash, know which of your accounts are options here.
  • Make investment moves to stay on track. Now might be the time to rebalance your 401k and investment accounts. Given the volatility in the stock market, make sure your accounts are still on track and in line with your appetite for risk.
  • Protect yourself and your family. Nothing like a pandemic to make sure you have adequate life insurance and up to date estate planning documents.

We wanted to end on a positive note, so we focused last on opportunity. As the saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining.” There is opportunity in disruption. How can you pivot in business? What personal financial opportunities now exist from this pandemic? You may want to explore these opportunities to enhance your financial security:

  • Explore professional opportunities. For attorneys, the fallout from COVID-19 will lead to increased opportunities for employment law, bankruptcy law, family law, securities and corporate law. The CARES Act itself is creating complications on many levels, which will present opportunities created by a more virtual workforce, enforcement of social distancing at businesses, etc. Think of how your business can pivot to address these new needs.
  • How you think about your retirement journey may have just changed depending on your age. Revisit where you are on your retirement journey to make sure your plan is on track, your strategy is aligned with your goals, and your savings is on track.
  • Explore other financial opportunities that have presented themselves, such as Roth conversions especially if your income has dropped. The CARES Act also allows for changes in charitable giving, use of your Flex Spending account, and more. 

The planner in me knows that taking the time to position yourself now to weather this storm can set you up for financial security. Rather than dive in to all the steps, pick the one or two that are most important to you, and focus on those. If you have any questions, please reach out to us. And as always, if there is a particular topic you’d like us to cover, please let us know.

Editor’s Note:
On May 5, 2020, a group of women financial planners held a webinar for Lawyers Club of San Diego members on the most important financial moves to make now, given the financial issues presented by COVID-19. Their goal was to arm attendees with the tools needed to make smart financial moves now, looking at financial security on the other side of this pandemic. If you would like further information, you can contact The Money Confidante, or click here to watch the full one-hour webinar (this post details the webinar highlights, in the order the material was covered in the webinar).

Bridget Venus Grimes is President of the financial life planning firm WealthChoice, and is passionate about helping women attorneys make smart financial choices and live the life they want.



Tags:  corona  COVID  crisis  finances  financial  financial security  health  income  income money  pandemic  planning  preparation  savings  the money confidante  wealth management 

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The Discord of Women’s Rights and Religious Freedom

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, July 10, 2020
Updated: Thursday, July 9, 2020

It took only ten days for women to experience the pendulum swing forward towards the preservation of a women’s right to accessible reproductive choice for it to only swing backwards towards the infringement of that same choice. In just ten days, the United States Supreme Court gave pro-choice women and organizations like us, Lawyers Club, a reason for celebration and a reason for mourning.

On June 29, 2020, in June Medical v. Russo the Court struck down a state law that would have eliminated abortion services. On July 8, 2020, in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania the Court opened the floodgates for the federal government to adopt rules that allow  employers to opt out of providing health insurance coverage for contraceptive care based on religious or moral reasons.

Women now have to research the cost of contraceptive health care, decide what is most important—working at a job that does not offer contraceptive health care, but is professionally satisfying, or  vice versa.  And men must decide, will they support women leaving their dream job to work for  a company that provides contraceptive health care so the women’s financial budget is not impacted, or will men share the out of pocket expenses of contraceptive health care.

Undoubtedly, the negative impact of yesterday’s decision cannot be ignored because it contributes to the societal inequities that exists for women. Lawyers Club will join the fight to remedy this wrong.


Yahairah Aristy is a Deputy Public Defender, and is the 2020-2021 president of Lawyers Club of San Diego.


Tags:  contraceptive healthcare  healthcare  inequity  insurance  pro-choice  reproductive justice  reproductive rights  Supreme Court 

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