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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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Chasing the Last Wave

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

This blog post was authored by Molly Tami

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

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

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

Work vs. Life vs. Me

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


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


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


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


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


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


This blog post was authored by Megan O'Neill

 

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

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

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

Trials


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

*

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

This blog post was authored by Rebecca Zipp

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tags:  blog  Blog Launch  LCB 

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