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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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Stories to Solutions: "Stand Up, Speak Out, Take Action"

Posted By Jamie Quient, Monday, February 13, 2017
Stand Up, Speak Out, Take Action

“What’s your sexual fantasy?” 

Not exactly the question I expected to get from a partner at a law firm where I was interning in law school. But there I was, like I deer caught in headlights, expected to answer in front of a group of colleagues at a work-sponsored function. 

I was interning at a well-respected law firm. I was getting great experience, learning a lot and really enjoying the job. Towards the end of the summer, the law firm had its annual day at the Padres game. I couldn’t tell you who they played or what the final score was. But I sure remember what happened after the game. 

After the game was over, some people went home, but most of the firm’s attorneys and staff were still going strong. The remaining group migrated to the Tilted Kilt. If you haven’t been there, it’s basically an Irish-themed Hooters with scantily-clad waitresses in crop tops and mini-skirt kilts. 

Soon after we arrived, a partner ordered a round of tequila shots for everyone there. I politely handed my shot to someone else. Needless to say, the tequila shots took the group to another level. And that’s when it happened. The same partner that ordered the tequila shots asked me and the other two female interns – in front of the entire group – to share our sexual fantasy. I tried several times to change the subject and do whatever I could to avoid answering, but he wouldn’t let it go. I finally answered curtly and briefly and he let me off the hook. 

Mortified does not begin to describe how I felt at that moment. I had worked so hard to be there, getting good grades, getting onto Law Review and doing an assortment of extracurricular activities. At that moment, none of that mattered. I was nothing more than a sexual object there for the entertainment and pleasure of others. 

This is just one experience, among others, I have faced in my legal career where I was treated in a manner that would not have happened if I was a man. It’s not just individuals we work with – it’s everyone around us – opposing counsel, witnesses, and clients. 

When we face these encounters, most of the time we simply brush it off and keep it to ourselves. We don’t report it. We don’t tell anyone. We just suck it up and move on. There are many reasons women choose not to speak up. The biggest reason is fear of retaliation or wrongful termination. 

There’s also the fear that if you speak up, you will not be believed. Too often it takes several people to report misconduct by the same individual before the allegations are viewed as “legitimate.”  Worse yet, the individual reporting mistreatment can face further harm in the response which can amount to “victim-blaming” and “slut-shaming” – essentially pointing the finger at the victim saying that she somehow brought this upon herself. Sometimes, it’s easier to leave the job, should you have that luxury, than to speak up and risk not only that job, but your professional reputation and ability to attain future employment. 

In my case, I was just starting out my legal career and knew that if I said anything it could negatively impact my legal career. So rather than report the incident or confront my harasser, I kept it to myself. Even now, despite the fact that I do not work at this firm, I am still uncomfortable sharing it. 

These experiences have made me keenly aware that despite all of the gains women in the legal field and other professions, we are still far from equal. Women in the workplace still experience sexual harassment, sexism, bullying, and gender discrimination every day. Each of these gender issues involves a different form of behavior. The common link is that they are all a means through which women are treated less than equal from their male counterparts. 

Lawyers Club launched the #EnoughisEnough campaign in July 2016 to find solutions to these issues. While there is no silver bullet to ending the mistreatment of women in the workplace, what is clear is that as leaders in the feminist movement, we can be part of the solution if we speak up, speak out, and take action!

Stand Up
I decided to share my story because we have to. The more I have spoken up about these issues, the more apparent it is that many people simply do not realize how often these things happen. This is true among men and women alike, but more often it is those in positions of power that are the most surprised when they learn this is happening. They typically do not see it happen, and if no one speaks up, how could they know? 

We also need to speak up to protect those that follow us from the same mistreatment. As we have learned from the stories of career-sexual harassers in the media, if we leave without saying something, they will continue to harass others. I hope that sharing my story helps others have more courage than I had to speak up and call out the behavior. While hindsight is 20/20, in retrospect, I would have approached my harasser after the incident and told him that his question made me feel like a sexual object, not a lawyer. I would have said, “if you wouldn’t say or do something to a man, then please don’t say or do it to me. I want to be treated with the same dignity and respect as you treat my male counterparts.” Period.

Speak Out
We must also speak out when we see others face these issues. Looking back at my experience at the Tilted Kilt, I can’t help but wonder why no one else spoke up. I was a law clerk – I was not comfortable calling out this behavior – and not quick enough on my feet to think of a better response. Someone else in a position of power could have chimed in and found a tactful or funny way to deflect the question. I do not know if anyone said anything after the fact, but I highly doubt it. We all need to be there to stand up for our colleagues and speak truth to power. We also have a legal duty to report sexual harassment when we observe it or learn of it.

Take Action
The only way we will be able to create an environment where those who experience sexual harassment or other unequal treatment to speak up or get others to speak out on their behalf is if those in a position of power take action when these issues arise. Employers must ensure their employees feel safe to come forward without fear of retaliation and that their report will be taken seriously. If an employee has the courage to report an incident and the employer fails to take adequate measures to address this issue, it is worse than if they had never reported it.

As we move forward with the #EnoughisEnough campaign, we will continue to speak up, speak out, and take action. This campaign will continue with our Stories to Solutions Blog Series, “Solutions Summit” in the spring and will culminate at the Lawyers Club Annual Dinner on June 1, 2017 themed “Speak Up, Speak Out, Take Action.” 


This blog is authored by Jamie Quient, President of Lawyers Club of San Diego, and was originally published as the President's Message in the February 2017 Newsletter.

Tags:  enough is enough  LCB  sexual harassment  stories to solutions 

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"Women Hold the Power in this Election - Let's Use It!"

Posted By Jamie Quient, Tuesday, November 8, 2016
 "Women Hold the Power in this Election - Let's Use It!"

On the day of the final presidential debate of this election cycle, my mother-in-law told her classroom of third-grade students something she had never told her students in her twenty-five year teaching career – she said that while ultimately it is up to their parents to decide, she did not think it was a good idea for them to watch the debate.
 
As the debate kicked off, my college roommate from Canada texted me as she pulled up to the couch, popcorn in hand, to watch the best reality show on television.  

While it may seem like we are watching a bad reality show, what is at stake in this election is far too real. Many people are so appalled with this election that they plan to stay home on November 8. It’s hard to blame them. At times this campaign has been appalling – stirring up pockets of racism, xenophobia, anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, and sexism, among other hateful viewpoints.  

While deciding not to vote is also an important right, this election is too important to sit out. 

The bedrock of our society is the right to vote and women fought incredibly hard for this basic right of citizenship. Less than 100 years from when women gained the right to vote, women now have the power to decide who runs this country – from President to City Council; from Congress to School Board. In 2012, nearly 10 million more women than men voted.  And this year, the gender gap is expected to be the largest in history. 

With this power comes responsibility. The first and primary responsibility is to show up and exercise our constitutional right. Staying home would be a disservice to all those who fought for us to have this right nearly 100 years ago.

While an important first step, simply voting will not achieve our mission of women’s advancement. As leaders in the feminist movement, we have a duty to ensure that we elect representatives who will fight for women, justice and equality for all.  

We also have a responsibility to ensure that the people we elect actually advance issues we care about once they are elected. As feminist lawyers, we have a critical role to play in the policy-making process at all levels of government. There are so many issues impacting women that we have the power to influence. 

One of the key areas where women need our help is workplace reforms. According to the United States Department of Labor, women comprise 47% of the total U.S. labor force. Nevertheless, workplaces have been slow to evolve and adapt to the presence of women, who biologically remain responsible for child-bearing and who still shoulder more child-rearing responsibilities than men. Men too want to see workplace reforms that enable them to support their families such as paid family leave and affordable child care.
 
We also need to advocate for polices aimed at eliminating poverty and ensuring economic security for all. Nearly 6 in 10 minimum wage-earners are women. That means that by raising  the minimum wage to a living wage, we are helping women and families.

We must also continue our work to protect women’s reproductive rights and advance other reproductive justice issues.  Reproductive justice goes far beyond the issue of choice – it encompasses all issues relating to women’s social, political and economic power. 

Finally, the Presidential election and a number of recent high profile cases have made the issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault front and center. When the election is over, we must keep these issues at the forefront of the public discourse and stand up to say enough is enough! 

No matter what political party or candidate you support, go vote. Women fought too hard for the right to have a say in our political system to stay home on November 8. And on November 9, the real work begins.

Jamie Quient practices insurance coverage and intellectual property litigation at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLC and is President of Lawyers Club.

Tags:  election day  enough is enough  go vote  LCB 

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"Stories to Solutions"

Posted By Jamie Quient, Monday, October 24, 2016

 

“Stories to Solutions”

 

Lawyers Club’s Enough is Enough campaign continues with launch of “Stories to Solutions” blog series – a safe space to share your stories and work towards solutions.


     
In response to the sexual assault and harassment allegations that emerged in the Presidential election, First Lady Michelle Obama declared “enough is enough.” Mrs. Obama’s speech struck a chord with me (along with millions of others) as she took on the issue that so many women and men face in their personal and professional lives. This discussion goes far beyond partisan politics - it strikes at the heart who we are as a country.

 

     Since its founding in 1972, Lawyers Club has led the community in the fight against sexual harassment. Forty-four years later, we are still fighting this pervasive problem through our “Enough is Enough” campaign to end sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.

 

     We kicked off the campaign last July with a sold-out luncheon on “Stories to Solutions: A Candid Conversation About Sexual Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace.” The next step in this campaign is to give our members a safe space to tell their own stories and identify solutions through anonymous blog posts in a special blog series called “Stories to Solutions.” These blog posts can be on topics such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, rape culture, street harassment, bullying and/or any type of gender-based harassment or aggression.

 

     The purpose of this initiative is to empower women to speak up and to highlight the prominence of these issues in the workplace and in society. We need to remove the stigma associated with those that report these incidents and eliminate shame and self-blame that victims of harassment often feel. We can also help ensure victims are believed when they report these incidents by raising awareness of the prevalence in our community.

 

     These blog posts will also inform our efforts to develop solutions to these issues and address the larger systemic problems that continue to disrupt women’s safety and overall advancement. To that end, bloggers are encouraged to share not just their experiences, but what they learn from them, what they would do if this happened again, advice for others in similar situations, what Lawyers Club can do to address this issue and/or any other take-away you want to share.

 

     All Lawyers Club members are invited to share their personal stories anonymously (or not) by emailing them to Rhianna at Rhianna@lawyersclubsandiego.com. Rhianna will remove all names and identifying information upon receipt and then post the stories to our “Stories to Solutions” blog series. Blog posts can also be submitted by anonymously mail by sending them to Lawyers Club of San Diego, 402 West Broadway, Suite 1260, San Diego, CA 92101 Attn: Stories to Solutions.

 

It is time we all stand up and say “Enough is Enough.” So join us – share your story and be part of the solution!

 

Jamie Quient is a civil litigation attorney at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP and President of Lawyers Club of San Diego.

Tags:  bullying  enough is enough  gender discrimination  LCB  sexual assault  sexual harassment  stories to solutions  street harassment  StS 

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