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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 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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There Will Always Be Glitter

Posted By Guest Blogger Tristan Higgins, Tuesday, July 7, 2020

In this month’s LC News, I wrote about the history of San Diego Pride (article available to Lawyers Club of San Diego members here). July 2020 will be the first year in decades without a San Diego LGBTQ+ community march. Here, I share what I believe will be lost by not having Pride in person.

If you have never been to Pride, imagine that you live surrounded by people who do not look like you (if you are Black, you already live this). Now, imagine that once a year you attend a festival filled with only people who look like you, who love like you, and who see you. And who are doing so loudly, joyfully, and with glitter. It is uplifting, energizing, and heart-expanding. 

There is no replacement for Pride.

Not celebrating Pride in person means kids coming out won’t have the opportunity to be validated by thousands of people like them who support them. Children of LGBTQ+ parents won’t have the benefit of meeting other kids from families like theirs. Places of worship, civic organizations, city and county offices, and businesses won’t be able to declare their openness and support for a community that so often feels underrepresented and displaced. Someone just coming out might not see a suicide prevention hotline or get information about a support group. 

It means that the community does not get to express its gratitude to the volunteers and leaders who fight tirelessly for LGBTQ+ representation and equality year-round. It means that a cisgender, straight mother won’t get to hold her LGBTQ+ child’s hand as they both walk in the parade for the first time.

I came out in 1987 (yes, children, we had Pride that long ago) and attended my first Pride parade in 1988. Since then, I have been to Pride in one city or another every single year. At times, I have been extremely involved in organizing. I have marched proudly down University Avenue chanting and cheering, and when I was not able to march, I have ridden on floats. I have marched with my parents, tears streaming down our faces as people applauded – my father asking who they were cheering for, and my mother answering, “Us, I think.” And, I have brought my children repeatedly. I have dressed in crazy outfits, carried signs, thrown beads, danced, celebrated, and faced protesters. I have participated proudly in person every single year, except this one.

There is just no way to replace the feeling of being surrounded by a hundred thousand people who are just like you, or who love you just the way you are. So, what can you do? If you know someone who is LGBTQ+ (and you do), find a way to show your support: Fly a rainbow flag, display a bumper sticker, wear a t-shirt, post on social media, or join a virtual Pride event. Though we feel the loss of attending Pride in person, there is nothing that can “cancel” the LGBTQ+ community. We have persevered throughout history, and this year is no different. We are still proud. And there is still glitter.

Tristan Higgins is a lawyer of 23 years and the founder of Metaclusive LLC, a diversity, equity, inclusion, and intersectionality speaking and consulting firm. 

 

 

Editor’s Note: On July 11, 2020, She Fest kicks off San Diego’s Pride Week virtually with live music, games and activities, workshops, vendors, and community-oriented booths. Also, Lawyers Club of San Diego has a team for the 2020 San Diego Virtual Pride 5K Run & Walk, July 17 to 20, 2020. Proceeds support The LGBT Center’s Youth Housing Project and San Diego Pride Community Grants, and you can register here.


Tags:  ally  cisgender  coming out  LGBTQ  LGBTQ+  parade  Pride  Queer  rainbow  She Fest  transgender 

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Your New President

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, July 3, 2020
Updated: Thursday, July 2, 2020

I am honored and humbled to serve as your 2020-2021 Lawyers Club President. Some people have expressed sympathy because my presidency is the year we witness the global COVID-19 pandemic, and worldwide protests for racial and criminal justice reform after the unjustifiable killing of Mr. George Floyd. During this pandemic, we have learned that the only statistic women are not leading on is the death rate. Otherwise, “across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the [negative] impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of sex”. (United Nation: Policy Brief: the Impact of COVID-19 on Women - April 9, 2020)  On May 25, Mr. George Floyd died after a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, while two other police officers knelt on Floyd’s body, and a third police officer stood and watched. None of the officers provided aid to Floyd as he said, “I can’t breathe.” The killing of Floyd has prompted diverse crowds to protest for racial and criminal justice reform. Unfortunately, where we are today with race relations is not a surprise, it is just more people are “woke” than ever before. 

While the pandemic and killing of Floyd have revealed the many inequities of our country, both have also served as a catalyst for inspirational growth. Technology has advanced at lightning speed, racial equity is at the forefront worldwide, and we have learned when it is all stripped away, what matters most is family, friendships, sustenance, and equity. Ah, let us not forget, and toilet paper! 

I have concluded it is no coincidence that my presidency fell in 2020-2021 because my life has  been “no crystal stair” and “I’se been a climbin’on.” (Langston Hughes “Mother to Son” poem) Consequently, I have no doubt that I will strive to do my best to uphold the amazing legacy of our founders and past presidents despite the challenges facing our country today. I look forward to working with our board, staff, co-chairs, and sponsors to ensure we do not miss a step to advance women in the law and society in the upcoming year. 

At the end of my presidency, I hope to look back and say we reflected, reimagined, and reinvented ourselves in the areas of Service, Inclusion, and Advocacy. I am a firm believer that when we focus on Service, Inclusion, and Advocacy we bring out the best in each of us, which can only make our communities better. In a world where chaos seems to be touching our lives closer than we all anticipated in January 2020, we must remember that we, in the legal community, are in a privileged position to survive with greater ease than those who live in poverty and despair. Thus, we are in a unique position to pause and reflect on current events; reimagine how we help others; and reinvent how we fight for equality and reproductive justice.

As for Service, Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Lawyers Club is that small group of thoughtful, committed citizens. As president, I will ensure Lawyers Club is of service to our staff, board, and co-chairs to ensure all are supported and working on committees and projects that feed their passion for Lawyers Club; of service to our members by continuing to provide programming that addresses legal and emotional skills for all types of lawyers and law students; and of service to our sponsors to ensure their commitment to our mission is reflected in all that we do. 

As for Inclusion: Maya Angelou said, “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” As president, I will ensure Lawyers Club continues to promote inclusion by welcoming new faces with warmth and interest in their Lawyers Club journey, meeting face to face with all diversity bars, and other legal organizations to share all Lawyers Club has to offer to help their members excel in their professional goals. 

Lastly, as for Advocacy – Evita Peron said: “I demanded more rights for women because I know what women had to put up with.” As president, I will seek to preserve our advocacy voice by continuing to participate in movements that ensure women’s rights move forward towards gender, social, racial, and economic equality. We will amplify our voice by continuing to work with our elected officials to vet and/or promulgate women-centered legislation. We will continue to collaborate with other pro-choice women’s organizations to advocate for reproductive justice.

I hope you join us because it is going to be a remarkable year!

 

-Article first published in LC News, July/August 2020

 

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

 

 

Tags:  advocacy  Black Lives Matter  COVID  inclusion  legacy  organization  president  programming  racial equity  service 

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The Unsung Women Behind the Declaration of Independence

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, July 3, 2020
Updated: Thursday, July 2, 2020

The celebration of Independence Day this year will look different with the wearing of masks and social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. As we celebrate the significance of Independence Day, I invite you to reflect and remember women who stood out at the time for their courage and advocacy for women’s rights.

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote letters to her husband when he left his family to draft the Declaration of Independence. Some of her letters became the earliest known writings advocating for women’s rights. In March 1776, advocating for women, she wrote:

“And, by the way, in the New Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors ... If particular attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no Voice, or Representation.”

Another woman less known though she supported the rebellion to declare separation from Great Britain is Mary Katherine Goddard. She was the first person to print the official copy of the Declaration of Independence. Her name appears at the bottom of the declaration of independence as observed in the copy held in the Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Continental Congress & Constitutional Convention Broadsides Collection.

We wish you and your family a safe and healthy Independence Day!

 

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

 

Tags:  Abigail Adams  COVID  Declaration of Independence  independence  Mary Kathern Goddard  women  women's advocacy 

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DACA, Still a Mirage

Posted By Guest Blogger Vaani Chawla, Wednesday, July 1, 2020

My husband woke me up with excitement in his voice, “DACA is here to stay!” I was happy to hear it, but I didn’t trust the feeling.


I remember when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) was first announced in 2012. It sounded like a gift. It was a policy based on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, to refrain from pursuing removal cases against young undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children.


Many who qualify don’t remember the place of their birth. Their earliest childhood memories are here in the United States. Some didn’t learn they were undocumented until they were in their teens, ready to explore their options for higher education.


DACA also opened the door for these young people to legally work in the United States by issuing them work permits. Work permits paved the way for them to open bank accounts, pay taxes, and attend universities. I could see that DACA had the potential to change lives.


Many people came to me, as an immigration lawyer, asking for help to apply for DACA. They were surprised to see the worry in my face. I warned them that as much as I understood the opportunity DACA presented, it was not rooted in solid ground. It wasn’t statutory law. It was based on a policy memorandum signed by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Secretary under President Obama. I warned them that Obama would not be president forever and that a future president with a different outlook might be elected. I told them that the stroke of one pen was giving them an opportunity, but the stroke of another might destroy it.


Over time, I observed how DACA changed the lives of two people close to my family. One of them is an expressive artist who works on large commissioned art projects around the United States, including one for the San Diego Airport. The other, a high performing student, became a physician’s assistant and is providing healthcare to San Diegans.


While the artist and physician’s assistant were growing into contributing, productive adults, a different president was elected with a different outlook. The new administration attempted to rescind DACA. The new DHS Secretary had set a deadline for DACA to expire. Federal Courts intervened and nationwide injunctions were entered, preventing DACA from expiring. The administration did not relent. It took the matter to the United States Supreme Court.


The last few years have kept DACA recipients on edge. They see a dream that seems within reach. They know what a productive life in the United States looks and feels like. But the sands have been shifting under their feet.


The Supreme Court’s recent decision brought on a moment of jubilation, but I was right not to trust the feeling. The decision, partly premised on a procedural failure, bought more time. But DACA recipients are vulnerable to political winds. They continue to stand on shifting sand reaching for an illusory promise. Without grounding in statutory law, DACA remains a mirage. It can disappear.

Vaani Chawla is an incoming Lawyers Club board member, the immediate past president of the South Asian Bar Association of San Diego, founder of Chawla Law Group, APC, and provides legal representation to families and businesses in immigration matters.

 

Tags:  activism  advocacy  DACA  immigrants  immigration  justice  Supreme Court 

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Leadership, Engagement and Growth

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, June 26, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2020

As with important advancements for women in the past, a fundamental step to further the advancement of women in law and society is to collectively organize.  In the San Diego legal community, there is no other organization that advocates for the advancement of women better than Lawyers Club.  For over 48 years, our organization has championed the causes of women and for equal and fair treatment for all women. 

The success of our organization is evident by the success of our members.  Many of our current judges were past presidents or are active members.  Many of our local law firms have partners that are active members.  The leaders of our public legal entities regularly support and attend Lawyers Club events.  I can attest that Lawyers Club has been an integral part of my legal career.  I found mentors whom I still call, learned valuable skills, gained clients, and learned how to be a better leader in my practice and my community.  To continue to advance the status of women in law and society, it is incumbent on us to continue support our mission.  I ask all of you to RENEW your membership, continue to support our organization, and become involved with our committees. 

Finally, since this is my last weekly message, I would like to thank all of our members, members of the judiciary, elected officials, sponsors, co-chairs, board members, advisory board members, staff, and volunteers, for their support of our organization.  It has been an honor and privilege to serve as president of 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:  community  law firms  members  membership  mission  organization  president  women  women's advocacy 

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Vote Like Your Life Depends on It

Posted By Guest Blogger Katherine (Kate) Lee Carey, Tuesday, June 23, 2020

In January, I volunteered to write a blog post about the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, a celebration of women finally “winning” the right to participate in the most fundamental act of basic governance in this country. I had some really cogent thoughts about this topic that have since evaporated with the fear and pain of the past three months. A worldwide pandemic, separation from our families and friends, illness and death, and then, another spate of senseless murders of black men and women by the police whose duty it is to protect all of us, and in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, by white vigilantes – frankly, it has been tough to focus.

But watching protesters take to the streets over the past three weeks, trying to make their voices heard, to make clear that the ongoing discrimination against people of color, not just by the police but the everyday injustices that harm them, will no longer be tolerated – that put some things in perspective. 

The women’s suffrage movement began more than 60 years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Years of organizing, reorganizing, and struggling seemed destined to go nowhere, as the men wielding power refused to consider the voice of women in this democracy… until the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade. On that day in March, thousands of women marched through Washington, D.C. to demand the U.S. Constitution be amended to allow women to vote. A huge crowd, around a half a million strong, came out to watch the parade, and it soon turned ugly.  Angry men began to throw trash at the women, jeering at them, shouting insults and physically attacking the marchers. The police ignored the women’s cries for help, one was heard shouting, “If my wife were where you are I’d break her head!”

Reporters from newspapers around the country photographed these men, these police officers, abusing the women, belittling them, dragging them through the streets. Hundreds of women were injured in the fray.

And then, something happened.  

The press coverage created outrage. That outrage led to a congressional investigation. That investigation led to the first congressional debate over a Constitutional amendment on the women’s vote in 26 years. Although it still took seven years to garner enough state support to pass the 19th Amendment, (and one state tried to change its mind after the fact), that protest moved the nation forward.

There are some who would like to rewrite history to imagine fundamental change in our country did not involve extreme disruption and sometimes violence. Freedom from British rule, the end of slavery, the civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the gay rights movement – to name a few – have all involved unrest and, for some, the jarring disruption of their status quo. Women’s fight for suffrage was no different.

There has never been a more important time for women to use the power earned 100 years ago. There has never been a more fitting moment for white women to recognize how they have excluded women of color and LGBTQ folks in their fights for equity in the past, and to rectify that mistake.

In its 100th year, the women’s vote could make the difference between true leadership and change in a time of extreme tumult, or the continuation of a slide into authoritarian policies, the systemic attempt to erase our right to bodily autonomy, the continued systemic racism across the country, and the perpetuation of a system that has oppressed so many citizens for centuries. The 2020 election, our 100th year with the right to participate, is literally life or death. 

Katherine (Kate) Lee Carey is Special Counsel with Cooley LLP, a Lawyers Club of San Diego Board Member and Co-Chair of the Leadership Development Committee, and serves on the Development Board of the California Innocence Project. 

 

 

Tags:  1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade  19th Amendment  marches  protests  suffrage  voting 

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And Justice for All

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, June 19, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2020

As many of you know, June is Pride Month, a month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and create awareness for their continued struggle to achieve equality.  This month we join the community in celebrating a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court, which finally recognized that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ individuals from discrimination and unequal treatment.  Under this decision, the Civil Rights Act now protects LGBTQ employees from being fired or otherwise discriminated against due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. 

The Supreme Court ruling was a culmination of decades of work by activists and academics to obtain the recognition that LGBTQ individuals deserve to be protected from discrimination.  As far back as the 1950s, pioneers such as Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, and Kay Tobin Lahusen have advocated to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals and secure equal treatment under the law.  This decision remedies past jurisprudence that refused to recognize LGBTQ rights and bends the arc of the social justice towards progress.

Although this is a significant victory for the LGBTQ+ community, the fight for equality is not over because LGBTQ individuals continue to face discrimination in society, including in the military, housing, and business.  We need to continue to support the LGBTQ+ community in the pursuit of equality.  If you would like to learn more on how you can support our community, please join the LGBTQ Committee. 

 

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

 

Tags:  civil rights  civil rights act  community  equality  LGBTQ+  LGBTQ+ committee  pride month  Supreme Court 

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Our Annual Dinner

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, June 12, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 11, 2020

As many of you know, Lawyers Club’s Annual Dinner is the largest Lawyers Club event, and a must-attend event for the legal profession.  In the past two years, we welcomed over 800 attendees and this year with Ms. Stacy Abrams as our speaker we expected another exciting and successful event. 

As you know, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dinner had been previously moved from May 14 to July 29, 2020.  However, given the current uncertainty regarding COVID-19, the health and safety of our members, and the directives by our health officials, Lawyers Club has made the difficult decision to cancel the Annual Dinner.

Lawyers Club remains committed to our mission as the issues affecting women in the law and society remain, and in many respects, they have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The theme chosen for this year’s dinner, Driving Change, has been our inspiration during these trying times and pushed us to remain committed to our mission. We continue to serve the needs of our members by providing valuable virtual programming for networking and connecting, joining amicus briefs for important cases, and ensuring that our organization remains inclusive and diverse.

Imperative to our mission of Driving Change has been the support of our sponsors and volunteers.  I would like to thank all of our sponsors, including Casey Gerry, the title sponsor for our Annual Dinner, for their continued partnership in advancing our mission.  I would also like to thank our Annual Dinner co-chairs Kim Ahrens and Amanda Singer and the Annual Dinner Committee for all of their hard work in planning our dinner.  I look forward to seeing you all at our future events.

 

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

 

Tags:  annual dinner  co-chairs  COVID  mission  pandemic  programming  sponsors  volunteers 

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Real Change

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Saturday, June 6, 2020
Updated: Friday, June 5, 2020

Over the last week, we have seen thousands of people take to the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd and police brutality against people of color. Many have also challenged the systemic racism against people of color that have made the community more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. In support of the protests, many individuals and organizations have issued well-intentioned statements. Although protesting and issuing statements of support are important, they are not enough to truly change systemic discrimination or the deprivation of the civil rights of the black community.

For example, the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013 and the first street demonstrations organized by Black Lives Matter took place in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 after the shooting of Michael Brown. Since that time, tragically, many more black men and women have died at the hands of law enforcement. In response to each of those deaths, many communities staged protests and community leaders issued statements of outrage and support. But, the unjustified deaths continue to occur and communities of color continue to be abused. As concerned members of the community, many ask what we can do to finally stop these abhorrent killings.

For real change to occur, we must take a comprehensive approach to resolve the systemic racism and unconscious bias that inexorably lead to more deaths of our black community members. We must educate ourselves on the racial disparities faced by people of color and the institutions that perpetuate those disparities, including the role of law enforcement and the justice system. We should also reflect on our own unconscious biases to be conscious of our own role in perpetuating or excusing racial disparities that exist for people of color. We must advocate for legislation in support of communities of color that is committed to addressing racial disparities in the justice system and other important social institutions. If we work together, we can finally create real change for our community.

 

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

 

Tags:  black community  black lives matter  civil rights  george floyd  justice  justice system  people of color  protests  systematic racism  unconscious bias 

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more Calendar

7/18/2020
SD Pride

11/19/2020
Equal Pay Day Luncheon--Rescheduled to November 19, 2020

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