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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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Diversity & Equality

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Updated: Monday, October 12, 2020
This week I received a text message from a dear friend stating that, I was surprised to read, she sees my intelligence, strength, grace, and power as a woman of color. I found her text to be very kind, though I normally would not respond to such a message because, while well-intentioned, it makes me feel awkward.

This time I responded. I shared that racially and ethnically diverse people like me want to be seen as humans worthy of all the rights, privileges, empathy, and positive assumptions non-color people experience daily. To be seen means to be seen as a human, while a different skin color, race, or ethnicity, equal, nonetheless. She thanked me for raising her awareness.

On October 15, our Diverse Women’s Committee will host its annual event focused on how women of color, despite being social change agents, have been unsung heroes. They were unsung heroes not because their achievements were not great, but because in society’s eyes they were people of color first, and humans second. In other words, their diversity was not considered part of their human strengths.

The panelists will shed light on how as lawyers we can fulfill the State Bar’s Call to Action “to encourage employers and attorneys to influence and advance an inclusive workplace that supports a more diverse workforce” in its first annual Report Card on the Diversity of California’s Legal Profession (2020).

I hope to see you on October 15! Register HERE

 

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

Tags:  diverse women  social change  unsung heroes  woman of color  women of color 

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A Partner in Health

Posted By Shelly Skinner, Monday, October 12, 2020

In the midst of a global health pandemic, lawyers can play a critical role in improving people’s health. Specifically, by getting involved with a medical-legal partnership, lawyers can become part of a patient’s health care team and assist with resolving legal matters that directly impact the patient’s well-being. That work is particularly important now, as vulnerable populations grapple with seemingly insurmountable hardships.

For example, according to a federal census survey, around 11.8 million children live in households that missed or sought a deferment for a housing payment, while roughly 3.9 million children have experienced food shortages caused by COVID-19. Indeed, millions of American families have experienced a decline in the conditions in which they live, work, learn, and play, and research shows that 60% of an individual’s health is determined by these social determinants of health. One effective mechanism for improving a household’s social determinants of health is a medical-legal partnership (MLP).


As stated above, an MLP integrates lawyers into a patient’s health care team. MLP lawyers are generally situated in a health care center, where they meet with patients who have been referred by medical staff, including social workers. Some health organizations directly employ MLP lawyers, but the majority partner with legal services agencies or law school clinics. Thus, one way for attorneys to get involved is to perform pro bono work through an organization that is partnered with an MLP.


Lawyers who are employed by MLPs train health care providers to spot issues that could benefit from legal assistance, such as housing insecurity; wrongful denial of government income supports, health insurance, or food assistance; and family violence. The MLP lawyer then helps resolve those matters or refers the patient to a pro bono attorney. Addressing the underlying legal issue can directly improve a patient’s health outcomes. For example, a patient suffering from asthma, who was doing everything recommended by their doctor but experiencing no improvement in their health, may finally find their breathing difficulties alleviated once a lawyer has taken legal measures to have the patient’s landlord fix mold issues. In addition, due to the economic toll of the pandemic, MLP lawyers will likely play a key role in helping households that are impacted by the eviction crisis

Beyond providing families with direct legal services, many MLP lawyers consult with medical staff about systemic barriers to care and use their expertise to advance policies that lead to safer and healthier environments. Thus, the benefits of MLPs can extend far beyond individual patients and can improve the social determinants of health for entire populations. Improving or eliminating the conditions that lead to poor health outcomes can prevent healthy individuals from becoming patients. 

Clinicians have reported better patient health outcomes and greater compliance with medical treatment due to MLP services. Over the last decade, the American Medical Association Board of Trustees, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Bar Association have issued reports or resolutions encouraging participation in medical-legal partnership activities. As their positive impact on both patients and health care workers is increasingly acknowledged, MLPs have taken root at health care facilities across the country. In fact, the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership counts over 400 MLPs that are currently operating in the U.S

With more than 5.13 million United States households currently at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines, Legal Services Corporation president Ronald S. Flagg stated that the health and economic crises have expanded the justice gap into a “justice canyon.” MLPs can help increase households’ access to justice while improving their well-being. As the world contends with a deadly pandemic, now is the time to bolster health care teams through MLPs. Lawyers are of critical import.

 

Shelly Skinner was as a federal attorney for 12 years, working on traditional labor law cases and ethics issues; now, she is focused on increasing access to justice and establishing a medical-legal partnership in San Diego.

 



Tags:  census  COVID-19  health care  justice canyon  Medical-Legal Partnerships  MLP  MLP lawyers 

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Lifting Up Our Future

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, October 2, 2020
Updated: Thursday, October 1, 2020
“Getting the most out of life isn’t about how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others.” – David Stoddard

I remember my first mentor, my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Lawson. Decades later I fondly remember her because she was a life saver for my eight-year old self. She taught me what it meant to be seen, and how to trust the good in people. Our law students need their own Mrs. Lawson as they navigate law school to become successful attorneys in our legal community.

A mentor is “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person”. In the legal profession mentors play a vital role in the professional development of law students. With the support of attorney mentors, law students receive guidance on how to successfully transition from law student to lawyer.

“Research demonstrates that “female lawyers with [strong mentors] had higher compensation and career progress satisfaction than those without mentors and were more likely to be partners or hold senior executive positions than women without mentors. Additionally, research shows that those who self-identify as minorities that participate in mentoring programs report a more positive view of the legal profession and more dedication to their organization and to the profession —with statistical significance — over their non-minority counterparts.” (Lessons for the Journey)

We are excited to announce, “The Lawyers Club Mentor Connection Program”. I invite you to sign-up and be a Mrs. Lawson for our student members.

 

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

 

Tags:  female lawyers  feminism  legal community  legal profession  mentor  mentors  mentorship  organization 

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Inclusion: Diversity & Inclusion Yields a Positive Return on Investment for Law Firms

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, October 2, 2020
Updated: Thursday, October 1, 2020

In recent years the concepts of diversity and inclusion have been popping up like mushrooms as new concepts despite being first recorded in the United States in the 13th and 15th century, respectively. These concepts, however, continue to move at a snail’s pace in all aspects of our society. Consequently, people of color are under-represented across many aspects of our society including the legal community. This is troubling.

It is troubling because purposeful efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are worth the return on investment for everyone involved. (See Mason Donovan & Mark Kaplan, The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity Inclusion Pays Off 2nd edition (2019)). Donovan and Kaplan define diversity as “the presence of difference” and inclusion as “the extent to which diverse groups have a seat at the table and are able to bring their best contributions.” Combined, these definitions demonstrate that diversity is about the human differences present in the decision-making hierarchy of any organization because “innovation is directly linked to a diverse, inclusive environment”. (Ibid.)

When we apply these definitions to the legal community the current outlook begs for improvement. The 2020 Chambers Associate Survey of Ethnic Minorities in Associate and Partner Positions found that only four of 107 firms surveyed had between 25% - 29% ethnic minorities in partner positions. Moreover, only one of 107 firms had above 50% of its associates as ethnic minorities. When we apply the women filter the disillusion continues. 11 of 107 firms had between 21% - 27% women partners, and six of 107 firms had between 50% - 52% women associates.

These dismal statistics are compounded by the fact that women of color leave the legal profession at a faster and greater rate than their white counterparts. A June 2020 report from the American Bar Association, Left Out and Left Behind: The Hurdles, Hassles and Heartaches of Achieving Long-Term Legal Careers for Women of Color affirmed that “…many women of color [] want to leave the profession because they see the disparity between themselves and their white counterparts…and those who do enjoy the work in their current environment and being a lawyer nevertheless view the playing field as not equal…”

Undoubtedly, the statistics and anecdotal information reveal that law firms have to effectuate change to retain women of color as lawyers and to create a firm culture that promotes genuine diversity and inclusion in all facets. Subsequently, the return on investment for both law firms and women of color will move upwards. On October 15, join us as we learn more about such upward mobility that historically has been connected with women of color as change agents for social justice. I hope to see you then.

 

 

In Solidarity,

 

 

-Article first published in LC News, October 2020

 

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

Tags:  diversity  ethnic minorities  inclusion  legal profession  statistics  women of color 

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“Ruth and Marty” Crushed the Norms

Posted By Molly T. Wescott for Chasing the Last Wave (of Feminism) , Wednesday, September 30, 2020
I was drawn back to writing for this blog when the devastating news about the death of our beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) brought chasing the last wave of feminism and the gender equality it promises back into sharp focus for me.

Women lawyers as a whole have not achieved the level of advancement and success that they aspire to while in law school or during their early years of practice. Many scholars and commentators, including Joan Williams who directs the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings, identify the work/family conflict as a predominant factor preventing women from realizing their career potential. While professional women are widely accepted in the 21st century, our society still expects women to serve as the primary caregivers for children and other family members. The work/family conflict continues to impede women’s advancement even as men become more involved parents and do more housework. 

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve read numerous articles about the crushing effects on women trying to work from home while also caring for very young children and facilitating remote learning for their school aged children. Although many men share childcare and domestic responsibilities, most women ostensibly continue to cover the “second shift” at home and now that happens simultaneously with their paid work day. 

The gender and social norms that keep men and women in traditional work and family roles have proven extremely hard to break . . . which brings me to RBG and her devoted husband, Martin Ginsburg. 

“Ruth and Marty” crushed those norms with their equal partnership in marriage, family and work. Marty reportedly was attracted to Ruth while they were undergraduates at Cornell because she was smart and had a brain! Both went on to develop brilliant legal minds and achieve impressive careers. But Marty ended up putting his wife’s career ahead of his own. (Amazing for those times, and dare I say, even for today.) It has been well reported that Marty was instrumental in promoting RBG’s selection for the United States Supreme Court. And on top of that, he did all the cooking for the family! He was not so much the man behind the woman, but a man standing right next to his woman. 

When I heard about RBG’s death, I told a colleague that I wish I could have been her. This is not just because of her immense contributions to the law and gender equality, but because she had a love affair of over 50 years with a devoted man who stood with her on her path to becoming the Notorious RBG. We will be riding the last wave of feminism when Ruth’s and Marty’s story is not an exceptional one, but our new normal. 

Molly T. Wescott is Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD Law, where she helps students launch their legal careers. She is a member of the LC Fund for Justice and remains passionate about the advancement of women in the legal profession. 

 

Tags:  Chasing the Last Wave  childcare  domestic responsibilities  gender norms  marriage  Martin Ginsburg  Ruth Bader Ginsburg  social norms  work/family conflict 

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Everlasting Legacy of a Guardian of Justice

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Saturday, September 26, 2020
Updated: Friday, September 25, 2020
Lying in state is reserved for only the most revered public figures, while lying in honor is a distinction reserved for remarkable private citizens. Rosa Parks, civil rights hero, was the first woman and only second African American to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol.

Yesterday and today are the only days Justice Ginsburg will lie in repose in the high court, and she is the first woman to do so. She will then lie in state tomorrow at Statuary Hall, a chamber in the U.S. Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans. Out of 100 statues, only nine are women.

Justice Ginsburg will be the 35th person to lie in state, and in doing so, will continue her trailblazing legacy. She will be the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state in the 168-year-old history of this prestigious honor. Similar to her being the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg will be the second U.S. Supreme Court Justice to lie in state out of 104 deceased Justices.

We at Lawyers Club have rested more securely knowing that Justice Ginsburg was in the high court because she worked tirelessly for women’s rights and equality for all. She truly is the epitome of a guardian of justice. We mourn her loss, but we will persist remembering her words “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask from our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

 

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

Tags:  Justice  rbg  Supreme Court  US Supreme Court  women's advocacy 

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Extend the Invitation

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, September 18, 2020
Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared September 15 to October 15, 2020 Latino Heritage month because 15 million Latinos call California home. Newsom noted that “Latino Californians have borne a particularly heavy burden during the COVID-19 pandemic. The overwhelming number of Latinos who work on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 risk increased exposure to the virus. Coupled with generational health disparities, Latino Californians have faced devastating, disproportionate impacts due to this disease. This Latino Heritage Month, we soberly acknowledge these harms stemming from social and racial inequities and continue our commitment to tackling these disparities during this unprecedented health and economic crisis and beyond.”

Lawyers Club is committed to diversity as reflected by our Diversity Policy. We acknowledge Latino Heritage month and seek to raise our members’ awareness of the how these disparities translate to our legal community. While the ABA Profile on the Legal Profession report found that the San Diego metropolitan area ranked among the top 10 nationally for firms with the highest percentage of partners who are lawyers of color, the State Bar of California found that Latinx people are severely underrepresented in the state’s legal community at 7% of attorneys, compared to the state’s Latinx adult population of 35%.

In honor of Latino Heritage Month let us be deliberate in creating a space of inclusion and let us remember Verná Myers’ statement: “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

 

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

 

Tags:  diversity  diversity policy  economy  health  latino  Latino Heritage month  legal community  pandemic 

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Will You Fight for Me?

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, September 18, 2020
Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2020

The struggles of working parents during this pandemic are real, and none more so than those endured by working mothers who are asking, “Will YOU fight for me?” Allow me to illustrate with a clipped conversation from the 2017 movie, The Bad Mother:

Host: We are here to talk about families and work, clearly state the problem you see with young women with young families.

Mother: Have kids, lose your job. Work, destroy your family.

Host: You have a choice and you exercised it. Motherhood. You can plan how far to space out your kids. You are clearly trying to have it all, and we all know that is impossible.

You chose to leave the seat at the table and now you’re blaming everyone else for the consequences of it.

Mother: No one is talking about having it all, we are just talking about trying to work and have a family at the same time. And that should not be [messed] up!

If we actually work together, we could start a trophic cascade. And we could [undoubtedly] change the system.

I will fight for you. Will you fight for me?

Host: Tearfully, yeah

Lawyers Club is proud to announce a Parents’ Committee has been added to our organizational structure this month because we will fight for you – our working parents.

On September 17, 2020, we will raise awareness to how the pandemic has exacerbated the plight of the working mother and the fight for reproductive justice. Register and join the fight.

 

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

 

Tags:  pandemic  work  working mom  working parents 

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Does Hard Work Pay Off?

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, September 4, 2020
Updated: Thursday, September 3, 2020

While to many Labor Day signals the end of summer, to others it is about workers’ rights. A federal holiday since 1894, Labor Day recognizes that “[t]he vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known, and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.” (United State Department of Labor, Labor Day History).

Who is the American worker? Each of us is, and we have been toiling to create our own sense of prosperity and well-being for ourselves and our families. Unfortunately, that toil has not led to equal pay between men and women despite women being over 50% of the workers in the country. Asian women and men workers earn more than everyone. Caucasian are the second highest wage earners with African Americans and Latinx workers in third and fourth place, respectively. Delving deeper, the most recent statistics show that in 2018 the median weekly salary for women lawyers was $1,762 and for men it was $2,202. In other words, women lawyers earned 80% of a men’s salary.

On this Labor Day holiday, commit to fighting for women’s workplace equality, and maybe in the not so distant future, the salary gap will be zero.

 

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

 

Tags:  economy  equal pay  labor  labor day  race  women in the workplace  workers rights  workplace 

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The Time Is Now to Support Our Women Lawyers Who Are Mothers

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Labor Day. Summer Vacations Winding Down. First Day of School. New Outfit. Freshly Sharpened Pencils. Parents-Sad, Happy, & Off to Work. These common September experiences are suspended this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents will reinvent these experiences to capture the pandemic version. What will not be seen in the photos or videos is the worry, the tears, and the struggle of parents as they determine how to ensure their child receives a quality education. The quality of which will depend on if the child attends school in-person, attends virtually at home or a combination.


Rightfully or not, the government and school districts decide. California’s guidebook for the safe reopening of California public schools, Stronger Together, while not a one-size-fits-all guide, makes clear that the health and safety of the students and staff is the top priority when deciding to physically reopen schools. The California Department of Public Health in July 2020 approved in-person school instruction for any school district or school in a county not on the COVID-19 monitoring list.


The negative impact of the school closures cannot be understated for working parents in our legal community. This negative impact will weigh most heavily on women, who bear the greatest child rearing responsibilities in the majority of United States’ families. Consequently, female employees will suffer most the limitations inherent in the federal and state laws that provide paid leave to care for a child whose school is close.


Given that, what can we as Lawyers Club members do to help improve the circumstances for our colleagues who are experiencing an additional inequity simply because they are females? We can advocate because “[g]ender equality and women rights are essential to getting through the pandemic together, to recovering faster, and to build a better future for everyone” (Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19 Report quoting António Guterres United Nations Secretary-General).


We can be allies by supporting lawmakers that advance proactive legislation on reproductive health, rights and justice, which the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) divides into six categories, abortion, contraception, pregnancy care, sexuality education, supporting parents, and nondiscrimination (NIRH Gaining Ground 2020 Midyear Report July 2020 emphasis added).


Each of us can join Lawyers Club on September 17, 2020 for Lawyers Club’s Advocacy and Reproductive Justice Committee’s first virtual event exploring Reproductive Justice Amidst the Pandemic.


I hope to see you then.


In Solidarity,

 

-Article first published in LC News, September 2020

 

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

 


Tags:  advocate  California  California public schools  childcare  children  COVID-19  education  employment law  legal community  parents  school  summer  support  women 

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10/26/2020
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Equal Pay Day Event

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