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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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Honoring Duty

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, May 22, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 21, 2020

As the Memorial Day holiday approaches, let us recognize the contributions of women to our military. Women have been serving, unofficially, since the Revolutionary War and continue to be an important, if unrecognized, part of our military.  As we honor those members of the military that have passed away protecting our country and its values, please remember that those members include women.   The sacrifice of our women in uniform is just as important as the sacrifice of our men.  For those of you who serve or have served in the past, thank you for your service.   


Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


Tags:  memorial day  military  service  servicemember  women in the military 

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Moving Forward

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, May 15, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2020

Completing our daily obligations can be difficult during these trying times.  By now, you probably have tried many techniques to cope with the stress and anxiety caused by the “new normal” and the seemingly unending uncertainty.  This week, I was reminded that sometimes the best technique to cope and move forward is to look for inspiration from others.  As you continue to tackle your responsibilities and find time to support our mission, I provide the following inspirational quote.  “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, for as long as you can.”  -- Former U.S. Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton.


Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


Tags:  COVID  inspiration  mission  responsiblities  stress  uncertainty 

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Our New Board Members

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, May 8, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2020

I would like to congratulate our new board members, Vaani Chawla, Deborah Cumba, Tristan Higgins, Kara Siegel, and Audrey Surridge. All of these women are leaders in our community and we are thrilled that they are joining the board.  Combined they have many years of legal experience, many with over 10 years of experience, and are all accomplished attorneys.  All have been active contributing members to Lawyers Club, including committee co-chairs. They have also been active in the legal community, including past presidents of specialty bars.  Please join me in congratulating them as we all look forward to the great work these women will do for Lawyers Club.


Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.



Tags:  board  leadership  leadership development  legal community 

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We Can Do It

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Saturday, May 2, 2020
Updated: Friday, May 1, 2020

During this time of crisis, it is important to recognize the many brave women who have sacrificed and risked their lives to help the sick during this pandemic, including the countless doctors, nurses, medical staff, and first responders. We are equally grateful to those women who continue to work at essential businesses, including, but not limited to, grocery store works, janitors, and transportation workers. These women have stepped up for the good of society.

Of course, women have a long history of sacrifice in times of crisis and the struggle to better society. Countless of women participated in the struggle for women’s suffrage. During World War II, millions of women heeded the call of duty by joining the work force, some even served in the military, in positions traditionally reserved for men. The experience of these women and the injustices they suffered helped ignite the women’s movement about a decade later. Again, women were on the front lines of the struggle for social change. Women protested against discrimination, for reproductive rights, and against domestic violence. We have made significant gains over the last 100 years to improve the status of women, but in this time of crisis women are disproportionately affected.

According to the U.N. Secretary General, the pandemic is having a devastating social and economic impact on women and girls. Domestic violence against women has increased during the pandemic; some states have taken the opportunity to attack reproductive rights; women are working at home while still being tasked with caring for the children at home; all while women are paid less than men. Indeed, the coronavirus has highlighted the inequalities still faced by women, sometimes in unexpected ways, for example one developing country
recently provided advice for women on how they can politely ask their husbands to contribute to household duties during the crisis.


Like the women in the generations before, we should embrace the moment to advocate for fair policies for women. This is an especially opportune time to advocate for women-centered policies because many people, who are now sheltering at home, may now empathize with the need for affordable healthcare, affordable childcare services, flexible work schedules, and equal pay. This is our time to be advocates for change and to push for the policies that women need. We can do it. 


-Article first published in LC News, May 2020


Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


Tags:  childcare  COVID  crisis  domestic violence  essential  healthcare  pandemic  politics  reproductive justice  social change  society  women  women in 

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A Celebration of Excellence

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, May 1, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2020
We would like to congratulate the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown who was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and 60 other scholars, the academy is both an honorary society and an independent research center.  Academy members include individuals such as Professor Anita Hill, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 
Judge McKeown serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Before serving as a judge, she was an accomplished attorney and the first female partner of the law firm of Perkins Coie.  She serves on the advisory board for Lawyers Club, and actively contributes her time to local bar organizations.  Thank you Judge McKeown for your continued contribution to the advancement of women.  

Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


Tags:  academy  arts  congratulate  honorable  humanities  judge 

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Take the Census

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, April 24, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2020
This year you have an opportunity to participate in an event that only occurs once in decade.  However, a recent article in The New York Times highlighted that a recent survey found that fewer women than men intended to participate in this year’s census. This is concerning because the census count determines how valuable federal funds get distributed to the states.  This federal funding is vital to many services that women depend on, including, but not limited to, funding for childcare, programs to protect women and children from domestic violence, and healthcare.  The study also found that women of color were even less likely to express an intention to participate.  This is equally concerning because women of color tend to live in communities most in need of these vital services for women.  
One of the reasons for the lack of enthusiasm to participate may be that women are very busy.  Not only are they occupied by their careers, but they are also tasked with caregiving responsibilities, including for children and parents (sometimes simultaneously).  This may also be compounded by COVID-19, which has caused their lives to be upended and created further responsibilities, including the difficult task of trying to work from home with children or running errands for parents who cannot leave their homes. As such, responding to the census might be the last responsibility on women’s minds. 
I encourage you all to take time out of your busy lives to fill out the census and encourage others to do the same.  We should not let such an important resource for women to be misallocated, since these services are so vital to assisting women in leading successful lives. 

Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


Tags:  census  childcare  community  domestic violence  healthcare  services  women  women of color 

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Meeting the Candidates

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Updated: Monday, April 20, 2020

As you know, Lawyers Club is currently hosting elections for the new board positions for next year.  If you have not voted for any of the fantastic candidates, you still have time.  While COVID-19 has prevented many of you from meeting our candidates in person, you still have an opportunity to meet the candidates virtually.  Each of the candidates has prepared a video to provide you that opportunity.  You can see the videos on our LinkedIn, IG and FB even without an account.  I encourage you to take time to view the videos to obtain insight on each of the candidates’ qualifications and vision for next year’s board.

Board members are essential to our organization because they volunteer significant time to keep our organization producing quality programming each year, including our spectacular annual dinners. Voting for the best candidate is also crucial because each of our board members serves a three-year term, and one will ultimately serve as president.  Voting is still open, so please vote NOW.


Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


Tags:  board  candidates  election  programming  volunteer 

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Cabin Fever

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Thursday, April 16, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

At this point, I am sure that many of you are starting to feel the effects of cabin fever.  There are several ways you can ease the tension of being constrained at home, which include maintaining a routine, staying physically and mentally active, and connecting with others.  Seriously, take some time away from the news and your work to walk outside in the fresh air and in the sun.  You will be surprised how effective this can be to combat the dreariness of being indoors.  

While you can accomplish the first two tasks on your own, connecting with others, by definition, cannot.  That is where our organization can be of assistance.  Lawyers Club continues to work on ensuring that we provide our members with the opportunities to connect with others.  Our committees continue to provide excellent programming via an online platform.  For example this week, the Diverse Women’s Committee featured Nadia Bermudez, a shareholder at Klinedinst PC, who discussed tips on how to have a successful legal career; the Trial Advocacy Committee featured Jonah Toleno, a partner at Shustak Reynolds & Partners, P.C., who discussed the similarities and differences between trials and arbitration; and the LGBTQ Committee in conjunction with Tom Homann LGBT Law Association presented an MCLE on the Supreme Court Equality Updates including The Masterpiece Cakeshop case.  So please, continue to participate in our valuable and interesting programming.  I guarantee that not only will it be beneficial to your professional growth but it will brighten up your day and help you continue to work hard at home.    


Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


Tags:  connections  networking  online  stress  updates  working from home  working mom 

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What Should I Be Doing Now? Money Management During a Pandemic

Posted By Bridget Venus Grimes for The Money Confidante, Tuesday, April 7, 2020

You are no doubt reeling from the recent events attributed to COVID-19. The stress of uncertainty weighs heavy on all of us. Many of you are now faced with the challenges of balancing working from home with caring for children whose schools have closed, travel plans that have been cancelled, the vulnerability of our elderly parents, and more. Life as we know it has changed, for now.

So, we are taking a more somber approach to the topic of money and will answer the question, “What should I do now?” Let’s address some of the biggest financial concerns you have as a result of current events, so you can take action and keep control financially.

But first, I would suggest you take 5 big, deep belly breaths. Be kind to yourself, you’ve got this.

What should I be doing now?

INCOME – If you believe your income will be impacted as a result of events, put some thought to what a conservative income might look like this year. Spend a few minutes penciling out your expenses so you know what you must pay for, versus what you’d like to spend money on. Take a look at every expense, including your contributions to retirement accounts and investment accounts. Ask yourself if you can continue to cover the expenses you have with a decrease in income.

If you believe you will not be able to cover your current living expenses, choose where you can cut. Start with the expenses you truly don’t need – like entertainment, dining out (or take out, as our current option), and online shopping. We each have our weaknesses when it comes to spending, so take a look at yours and pledge to cut. 

This may be a time when you have to dial back your 401k contributions temporarily. I don’t offer this lightly, but in times like this, if it makes the difference between covering costs or not, you may need to either cut back or stop altogether your retirement contributions for now.

Resist the temptation to use credit cards to cover the financial gap. It can be hard to dig out of debt once you have it, and putting living expenses on a credit card is a signal that you truly cannot afford this lifestyle.

If you have an emergency fund, this may be the time to tap into it. If you do not and income is still at a point where you can prepare for a potential decrease in a few months, put aside enough cash to cover at least three months of fixed expenses.

ALTERNATE SOURCES OF INCOME – I’m not talking about another job here, but you may be in a position to refinance your house. Rates are at historical lows, and this can reduce your monthly income by several hundred dollars, which could be used for living expenses.

If you run your own firm, you may have opportunities here in terms of generating different sources of income. I know clients who have added expert witness work to supplement income or considered coaching other attorneys. There is also an opportunity here to cut firm expenses so that more money passes through to the business owner.

RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS – For most of you, your retirement accounts have suffered a marked decline in value. If you have a well-diversified portfolio, and the investments are in line with your goals, our best advice is to stay the course. This is not the time to sell stocks. Resist the temptation to sell your investments and move to cash. We have been here before with the market, and we will recover. If retirement is decades away, try to resist checking on your accounts daily. 

We know that changes in contributions and withdrawals have the greatest impact on success of a financial plan, bigger than if you change around your stock and bond allocation. If now is the time for you to dial back how much you contribute to your 401k because you need the money, tell yourself that as soon as life is back to normal and income has recovered, you will increase the 401k contributions.

There is a lot on everyone’s mind right now, and financial uncertainty can create tremendous stress. Take a few breaths, turn off the news, and get your hands around your current financial situation. There are some actions you can take here to make sure you will be okay now, and in the future.

If you have any questions at all, need feedback, or direction, I am more than willing to spend time talking to any of you who needs a sounding board. 

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:  401k  corona  COVID  crisis  finances  financial planning  health  income  money  pandemic  refinance  savings  the money confidante  wealth management 

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The New Normal

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, April 3, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2020

When we began this year, none us fathomed that three months into the year a grand majority of San Diegans would be working from home. Tragically, our nation is currently facing a
pandemic, and we have been asked to do our part to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the virus by staying home and practicing social distancing. 

The stay-at-home order presents many new challenges, including requiring us to work from home. Working from home presents unique challenges, which can be especially difficult for women. Many women are now having to juggle taking care of children and working at the same time. For others, they struggle with having to mix their home life with their work life, which seems to throw the work-life balance out of sync. For me, I have struggled with both. As you may know, I have two young children, a three-year-old son and seven-month-old daughter, so working from home has been positively challenging. At first, I attempted to work in my bedroom and living room looking for the best fit. However, having quickly realized that I was not leaving for work, my son followed me wherever I went, and he decided that it was playtime with Mommy. 

So like many of you, I had to improvise and think of creative ways to work from home. I decided it was best for me to act as if I was going to the office. My new routine is as follows: I wake up, get ready, kiss my children goodbye, and proceed to my new workspace, which is located in my garage. When the workday is over, I leave my garage and walk in through the front door and begin my home routine. In this way, I maintain as sense of routine and normalcy. I know that many of you are dealing with similar challenges. I encourage you to be creative and establish your own new normal. 

So how do you create a new normal? Find a creative way to separate your home space from your work space. Also, continue to be involved in the organizations that you are passionate 
about. Now, more than ever, we need each other. For me, continuing to advance our mission is just as important now because women have been greatly impacted by the pandemic. We should also create a new normal with respect to Lawyers Club activities: stay active in our committees, which are now offering virtual meetings; vote for our board candidates; renew your membership; and sponsor our events. 

During this time, it is also important for us to remember to be compassionate and work together. By working together during these difficult times, we help our fellow citizens, advance our 
mission, and work to overcome this pandemic. Let us show the nation why San Diego is America’s finest city. 


-Article first published in LC News, April 2020


Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.


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Register Now!-- Cybersecurity during COVID-19 CLE with Ankura Consulting Group

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Equal Pay Day Luncheon--Rescheduled to November 19, 2020

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