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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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Are You With Us?

Posted By Yahairah Aristy: A President’s Perspective, Friday, August 28, 2020
Updated: Thursday, August 27, 2020
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

It has been an incredible two months for Lawyers Club members and sponsors. Through our membership survey we sought input from our members about their Lawyers Club experience. Our first press release for the year was issued. We held a virtual Swearing-In & Passing of the Gavel ceremony that delighted and inspired everyone – it was truly a joyous celebration. Two of our award nominees were selected to be award recipients. 

The first board meeting was a great virtual success with board decisions to ensure this year’s theme of Service, Inclusion & Advocacy touches all facets of our organization. The virtual leadership retreat attended by over 65 Lawyers Club committee co-chairs and liaisons was a huge success. We had Alexis Cole, past Washington D.C. Policy Director for Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, Christie Hill, Deputy Advocacy Director for ACLU San Diego & Imperial Counties and Karen Fleshman, owner of Racy Conversations, ignite everyone’s passion for Lawyers Club. Our Fund for Justice committee kicked off the first committee meeting for the year, with many more other committees kicking off in August. And our Special Edition Centennial e-blast in honor of the one-hundred-year anniversary of the 19th amendment inspired everyone with a video, special edition newsletter and an op-ed published in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

We are working hard to empower you to be the best legal professional you can be, provide an inclusive environment for all, and mobilize you to advocate for reproductive justice. Renew today!

 

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

 

Tags:  advocacy  board meeting  centennial  inclusion  leadership  legal profession  membership  service  virtual event 

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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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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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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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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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Driving Change

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, June 5, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2020

As I prepared my final address for the newsletter, I thought of the message I wanted to leave our members to conclude my service as president. Serving as our 48th president and reflecting on all of the achievements Lawyers Club has accomplished since its founding, some important rights and legal protections remain out of reach for women, like paid family leave, protecting access to reproductive rights, and equal pay.


Despite our vigorous advocacy and the advocacy of others around the country, some of these goals seem unattainable. To change the status quo, I decided to focus my presidency
on the goal of encouraging our members to become leaders in the legal community. When women become decision makers, they can cause real change in the workplace and in society.

 

When I began my presidency, I focused on programming geared toward providing our members with the skills needed to become leaders in their places of work. With respect to
our civil practitioners, this included tools and strategies for developing a book of business. To inspire our members, we called on various leaders in our community to provide guidance on how to become leaders, including San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez, Carlsbad City Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel, San Diego County Superior Court Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne, and founding mother, Justice Judith McConnell. Recognizing that some women are unable to take the traditional paths into leadership positions, we turned to the inspirational journeys of attorneys Connie Broussard, Andrea Guerrero, and Heather Riley who explained how they undertook different paths to become leaders and stressed the importance of understanding that having set-backs do not define your success. In addition, some of our committees put on programming focused on developing trial skills and a book of business.


I am also proud of Lawyers Club’s other accomplishments. At our annual Fund for Justice fundraiser, due to the generosity of our members we raised over $28,000 thereby continuing
our support of women in our community. Our Human Trafficking Collaborative was internationally recognized and met with nine officials from Bahrain to advise on strategies to curb human trafficking and provide support to survivors. As we began the new year, our newsletter team created a stylish, updated design for the newsletter.


In early March, we were all excited to participate in another successful Red, White and Brew event. Little did we know that the event would be our last in-person event of this year. As you are aware, the events of the global pandemic precluded us from providing further in-person programming. Indeed, as a result of the pandemic, our society and way of life has changed. While initially our concerns were focused on the practicalities of the restrictions (like not having enough toilet paper), we soon understood that the greatest tragedy has been the significant losses of so many lives.


In addition, the pandemic has highlighted the inequalities and challenges that continue to exist for women: incidents of domestic violence against women have increased, some state governments have placed substantial barriers to reproductive rights, and some women working from home have simultaneously been tasked with childcare. As a consequence, our mission for Lawyers Club has not changed and our mission is more important than ever. As we continue to push for social policies that support women, we must remember not to pause during these difficult times. The best way to shape the river of social change is to continue to use our tools of advocacy, especially when society gets off track. Together, as so many women before us, I know we will continue to carry the torch of the women’s movement to ensure that we protect the hard-fought gains from the backsliding of complacency and move our society towards finally achieving equality for all women.

 

-Article first published in LC News, June 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:  advocacy  book of buiness  equality  fund for justice  human trafficking  inequalities  leadership  leadership development  legislation  pandemic  politics  president  women's advocacy 

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Advocating for Women of Color

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, January 30, 2020
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2020

 

As many of you know, women of color face many obstacles in the legal profession. Studies have shown that the combination, or intersectionality, of race and gender has a particularly devastating effect on the professional lives of women of color. For example, Black women only earn 65% of wages earned by men and Latinas 62%. Women of color are also much more likely to leave the private practice or the legal profession entirely. While the Judicial Council of California does not identify demographics for judges based on a combination of gender and race, its annual judicial survey has shown that Asians comprise of 7.8%, Blacks comprise of 7.5%, and Latinos comprise 10.8% of superior court judges.

In order for women of color to succeed in the legal profession they need advocates that will address the barriers to success. The San Diego community is fortunate to have the Hon. Vallera Johnson, who has been an advocate of women of color for decades. Judge Johnson is this year’s keynote speaker for the Women of Color Reception, which is scheduled for February 13, 2020 at Procopio. We hope you will join us and be inspired by sage advice and good company

 

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

 

Tags:  advocacy  gender  gender pay gap  intersectionality  race  representation  women of color 

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Join the Fight for Women's Rights

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, January 16, 2020
Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2020

 

On January 18, 2020, the fourth annual Women’s March will be held in San Diego, an event for women and men to advocate for women’s rights and show politicians around the country that women’s rights cannot be ignored. The Women’s March in San Diego will coincide with other marches around the United States, including in our nation’s capital, as a response to actions by state and federal governments to retrench important civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and reproductive rights that protect women and families.

As our country prepares for its next election, we must show up and advocate for policies that ensure equal treatment for all women. The importance of women’s rights must be part of the discussion during this election cycle. This should also serve as a reminder to us all to support elected officials that embrace these values and push to elect even more women to elected office. This will serve not only to protect the gains women have achieved on important issues, like reproductive rights, but to continue to push our government for pass necessary polices, like the Equal Rights Amendment, equal pay, and paid family leave. In the words of our Justice Ginsburg, "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." Let us all join the fight.

 

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

 

Tags:  advocacy  civil rights  election  politics  reproductive rights  women’s advocacy  women's march 

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Tips for Successful Court Advocacy: Effective Strategies for Building Credibility and Rapport

Posted By Phillip Stephan for Lawyers Club's Bench Bar Committee, Tuesday, January 7, 2020

At the Bench Bar Committee, San Diego Lawyers Club members are given the opportunity to attend events that provide an informal, relaxed atmosphere for members of the bench and members of Lawyers Club to meet, interact, and discuss the legal profession. The goal of this experience is to help us all understand that members of the bench are approachable people – they make mistakes, understand that you may be slightly anxious when you are arguing in front of them, and maybe even spill salad dressing on their clothes too.
Although an informal lunch may not provide the most applicable training for your career-defining oral argument, the San Diego Lawyers Club’s Bench Bar Committee has helped numerous people, including me, learn about how best to connect with the bench. Oral argument is an extension of your ability to hold a conversation – a conversation with more structure, specialized terminology, and often, the demand for persuasion. Social interaction with our esteemed judicial offers has provided me with a foundation to calmly handle oral argument, and I credit Lawyers Club, the San Diego County Bar Association, and other San Diego organizations for providing such great opportunities. Here are some guiding principles for oral argument that have come in handy:


1. Engage the judge. This is a conversation, rather than a debate. Your debate is with opposing counsel. Hopefully, you’ve persuasively presented the points in your moving papers. Speaking of your moving papers . . .

2. Do not read to the judge. To effectively engage your judge, it is ineffective to read the same statement you’ve made in your moving papers, unless the situation or the judge specifically calls for that – the judge has considered those arguments already. Try to condense your points into a one sheet outline or a series of brief sheets, depending on the complexity of your case. Brief sheets are a technique for splitting up a complex oral argument into easy references, with one brief sheet covering case law, one covering your arguments, and one covering any opposing arguments, etc.

3. Deliver your point concisely. Even when you cannot be brief in your brief, make sure that you do not include unnecessary detail that may cause the judicial officer to lose interest in your argument. Part of concisely addressing the points you want to make includes properly integrating any tentative rulings, as well as interactively listening to the questions and underlying concerns of the direction from the bench. Numerous talented practitioners stress that oral argument is dynamic.

4. Be respectful and reliable. Credibility is the essential attribute that anyone making an argument must exude to persuade others, or hold a conversation. Although your job is to advocate, you cannot afford to lose credibility.

As the new year arrives, I often find the time for reflection and come up with a resolution or two. This year, one resolution is to concentrate on staying mindful, including following my own advice and trusting the lessons I have learned through my experience. I provided the above tips because that advice reflects the ideal way of delivering an oral argument; real life may not always be so simple. If you (and I) take the time to prepare, and trust that preparation has been diligent and thorough, we will all be able to improve our conversation, both in and out of the courtroom.


Enjoy a prosperous 2020!

 

Phillip Stephan is an Associate Attorney at Neil, Dymott, Frank, McCabe & Hudson, APLC, and he wrote this for San Diego Lawyers Club’s Bench Bar Committee.

 

 

 

Tags:  advocacy  bench bar  briefs  judge  judicial engagement  oral argument  reliability  respect 

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Lawyers Club’s Global Reach

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, November 21, 2019

Human trafficking, which includes sexual exploitation and forced labor, is a significant problem in San Diego. According to data from the FBI, San Diego is one of the 13 worst regions in the United States for sex trafficking, an underground industry worth $810 million in San Diego County.

Since 2016, Lawyers Club sponsored a committee, the Human Trafficking Collaborative (“HTC”), to address the pervasiveness of human trafficking in San Diego and collaborate with local organizations to combat human trafficking and rehabilitate survivors. More specifically, HTC engages in (1) issue education, (2) survivor services, (3) advocacy and outreach, and (4) support for non-governmental organizations. For its efforts, HTC was honored by the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations with the prestigious national Public Service Award. In 2018, HTC also received the San Diego Law Library Foundation's Bernard E. Witkin, Esq. Award in the category of Community Change Makers.

The success of HTC has also been internationally recognized. This month, the co-chairs of the HTC, Casey French and Colette Mahon, and I will meet with nine officials from the country of Bahrain. The officials wish to learn more about HTC and the support it provides to survivors and to combat human trafficking. While we are proud of the impact HTC has on our community, we are equally honored for the opportunity to assist in helping women internationally. If you are interested in learning more about the HTC or how to contribute, I encourage you to join our collaborative.

  

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

 

 

Tags:  advocacy  changemaker  education  HTC  human trafficking  international  outreach  sex trafficking  survivor 

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9/30/2020
Fall Virtual Mixer: Shaking and Crushing Stereotypes in the Male Dominated Cocktail Industry

11/19/2020
Equal Pay Day Event

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