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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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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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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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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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47th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, January 23, 2020
Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right for women to have a safe abortion. While some have criticized the decision on legal and ethical grounds, this landmark decision on women’s reproductive rights is supported by 73% of Americans. Lawyer Club supports a women’s right to choose and a women’s rights over her own reproductive health.

The most significant impact of Roe v. Wade has been the marked improvement on women’s health, especially for women of low socio-economic status. Before Roe v. Wade, illegal abortions comprised of one-sixth of all pregnancy related deaths. A study in New York City found that of the women with low incomes who had obtained an abortion, 80% had attempted dangerous, self-induced abortions. After Roe v. Wade, abortions conducted by medical professionals have a 99% safety record.

The reversal of Roe v. Wade would have a significant detrimental impact to the health of poor women, especially in states with significant populations. Twenty states are ready to outlaw abortions should Roe v. Wade be overturned, which include the poorest states in the country like Mississippi and Alabama. It is estimated that 25 million women are at risk of losing access to abortion, which constitutes about 1/3 of all women of reproductive age. We must continue to support Roe v. Wade to avoid taking a significant step back on women’s health and reproductive rights. 

 

If you are interested in learning more about supporting women’s reproductive rights, please join us at the 47th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Breakfast Event. You can also review the amicus brief filed in June Medical Services LLC, et. al v. Gee (a case before the Supreme Court regarding Louisiana’s restrictive abortion laws), which Lawyers Club has joined in support of women’s reproductive rights. Please see our article posted here

 

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

 

Tags:  abortion  equality  reproductive justice  reproductive rights  roe v. wade 

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A New Chapter for our Judiciary

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, January 9, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, January 8, 2020

 

As many of you know, despite comprising half the population, women only make up thirty-six percent of judges in the Superior Court of California. Women are likewise underrepresented in leadership positions on the bench. Lawyers Club is excited to recognize that Judge Lorna Alksne was elected to serve as the new Presiding Judge for the San Diego Superior Court. Importantly, Judge Alksne is only the third woman to serve as Presiding Judge in San Diego County. The first woman to serve as presiding judge was Justice Judith McConnell, one of our founding mothers.

Judge Alksne selected a number of women to assume leadership roles in the judiciary, including Hon. Randa Trapp, Supervising Judge for Civil (the first African-American Supervising Judge for Civil); Hon. Margo Lewis Hoy, Supervising Judge for Family; Hon. Ana L. España, Supervising Judge for Juvenile; and Hon. Eugenia Eyherabide, Supervising Judge for Criminal. Judge Alksne also selected Hon. Dwayne Moring to serve as the first African-American Supervising Judge for the South County Courthouse. Lawyers Club congratulates and welcomes the new Presiding Judge and looks forward to her wisdom, leadership, and guidance in helping shape our judiciary.

 

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

 

Tags:  diversity  equality  judiciary  leadership  legal profession  superior court  women 

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Make The Ask

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Friday, December 6, 2019
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2019
As you begin to make plans for the holidays, you should also plan to make your pitch for a raise or promotion. December is the month that many San Diego law firms and organizations make determinations regarding promotions and raises. This is the time to make the ask.

So, how do you make the ask? Be prepared to highlight your accomplishments for the year and your value to the firm. Understand the compensation of similar attorneys in your position or the accomplishments sought for the promotion you seek. Be your best advocate by practicing your pitch.

While it is intimidating to make the ask, it is necessary to chip away at the gender pay gap and increase the number of women in leadership positions in the law. For example, while women are 45 percent of associates, they are only 22.7 percent of partners and 19 percent of equity partners. We can make our best effort to redress these inequalities by stepping up and making the ask.

 

 

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

 

Tags:  ask  equality  equity  gender equality  gender pay gap  pitch  promotion  raise  women in leadership 

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March Together!

Posted By Guest Blogger Vaani Chawla, Thursday, January 17, 2019
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2019


I remember January 21, 2017, like it was yesterday. It was an emotional day. The new president had been sworn in just the day before. I was in a fog of confusion. I was depressed and disappointed in the results of the election. But a part of me hung on to hope, thinking I could be wrong in my assessment of an administration that was just about to begin. I hoped that the new administration would be different from what was advertised—more respectful of women and other diverse groups in America. Maybe it was just a tactic the new president had used just to get elected? But I wasn’t sure.


I felt compelled to attend the Women’s March in 2017. I drove downtown to the San Diego Civic Center with my supportive husband and my little spaniel dressed in a bright pink jacket. We walked to the center and found a throng of people. There were women wearing pink hats and pink scarves. They brought their children, some of them sitting in Radio Flyer-type wagons and strollers. Their partners and significant others were with them. They held signs with slogans supporting women, immigrants, and other groups.
We stood shoulder to shoulder with one another, strangers in a crowd, but the mood was palpable. I watched a woman who had brought her two sons, about 3 and 5 years of age, and her husband with her. She stood listening to the speakers while her 3-year old played in a planter. The speakers were moving. Tears streamed down the woman’s cheeks as she stroked the hair of her 5 year-old. I felt it too.


Then finally, we began to move forward. We began to march. It felt like the emotional pressure of the moment was finally released. The crowd chanted slogans, and we began to smile. The mood had changed. We were now feeling stronger, like a cloud had been lifted. A comradery had developed among us even though we didn’t know each other.


That is what it was like for me and my family to attend the march in 2017. Imagine how much more wonderful the experience would have been if I had attended with my Lawyers Club sisters and brothers.


In a few days, we have the opportunity to do this together. We can shake off the daily onslaught of negative news, join forces, and stand up for the advancement of women. We can carry signs, chant slogans, and clearly demand equality.

The third annual Women’s March is this coming Saturday, January 19, 2019. The program starts at 10:00 a.m. with a blessing and performances. At 11:00 a.m., speeches will be delivered by inspiring leaders, and at noon, we march! Join your Lawyers Club sisters, brothers, and families at the steps of the County Administration Building, facing Pacific Highway, at 11:30 a.m. The building is located at 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101. Together, we will bring #TruthToPower!


Vaani Chawla is co-chair of Lawyers Club’s Equality and Action Committee, current President of the South Asian Bar Association, founder of Chawla Law Group, APC, and provides legal representation to families and businesses in immigration matters.

 

 

Tags:  activism  advance women  Advocacy  demand equality  equality  equality&action  feminism  feminist  First amendment  now more than ever  social media  speech  united  vote  women’s advocacy  women's march 

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Lawyers Club Demands Equality on the Bench

Posted By Lawyers Club of San Diego, Friday, October 19, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2018

On September 30th, Governor Brown signed a bill written by San Diego Congresswoman and California's Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins {hyperlink to http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-governor-women-corporate-boards-20180930-story.html} that requires corporate boards of directors to include women. We've lodged our own demand from San Diego in the form of a demand for equality on the bench. Please see this letter we sent to Governor Jerry Brown last month, and consider how you are joining us in demanding equality! 

 


Tags:  appointments  bench  equality  Governor Brown  judge 

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Now, More Than Ever – Diversity and Women’s Leadership in the Law

Posted By Marni von Wilpert, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The mission of the Diverse Women’s Committee is to discuss how women as attorneys, particularly women of color, can become leaders and utilize their legal position to support human rights and demand equality and inclusivity for all. The keynote speaker for this year’s Diverse Women’s Committee luncheon is Mona Pasquil, an incredible woman who has spent her career in public service, most recently as California Governor Jerry Brown’s Appointments Secretary since 2011.

Today’s headlines highlight the discrimination women continue to face, especially women of color, as we attempt to gain an equal foothold in our workplaces and the economy. Stories abound of sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and gender pay inequality from Walmart to Wall Street. And those are only examples of gender-based discrimination; women of color also face implicit and sometimes overt racism and bias in the workplace daily. Despite facing these challenges, women of color continue to lead the charge toward greater equality. Indeed, in 2015, years before the national conversation on the “MeToo” hashtag emerged, a courageous group of Latina women started a movement that paved the way to a new California law targeting sexual harassment and assault in the janitorial industry. Indeed, the coining of the term “MeToo” to help survivors of sexual assault find support was created by an African-American woman nearly a decade ago.

In the current political climate and the U.S. Senate’s judicial confirmation hearings for nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, I’ve often heard it said that diversity and women’s equality matters “now more than ever.” Maybe in this moment society is listening to women more than ever, but the leadership and diverse voices of women have always mattered in the fight for human rights, equality, and inclusivity for all. It mattered just as much in 1955, when Dolores Huerta began her career as an organizer, eventually co-founding with Cesar Chavez what would become the United Farm Workers’ Union to advocate for the economic and social rights of farm workers. It mattered just as much in 1964, when Fannie Lou Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, challenged the state’s all-white delegation, and unmasked racial segregation and voter suppression in her speeches at the National Democratic Convention. It mattered just as much in 1991, when Anita Hill testified before the U.S. Senate, detailing her experiences of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas when he oversaw her work at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And it mattered just as much in 2009, when Mona Pasquil became California’s first Asian, first Filipina, and first female lieutenant governor.       

Please join the Diverse Women’s Committee for our luncheon on Thursday, October 18, 2018, as we continue our conversation to identify, confront, and address particular challenges that women of color, as double minorities, continue to face in the legal profession and society. Mona Pasquil is an incredible speaker and is a woman using her voice and leadership to promote equal access to opportunity for all. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there – register now

Marni von Wilpert is a Deputy City Attorney in the Civil Litigation Unit of the San Diego City Attorney's Office, and wrote this for San Diego Lawyers Club's Diverse Women's Committee.




 

Tags:  appointments secretary  diversity  Dolores Huerta  equality  Fannie Lou  Filipina  Jerry Brown  luncheon  Mona Pasquil 

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Flashback to October 1991 | Lawyers Club Opposes Thomas Nomination

Posted By Lawyers Club, Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Lawyers Club News, October 1991, Page 3:

Lawyers Club Opposes Thomas Nomination
 
At its regular meeting on September 9, 1991, the Lawyers Club Board of Directors approved a statement of opposition to the appointment of Judge Clarence Thomas to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Copies of the statement were sent to various media and to California's two U.S. Senators. The following is the text of the statement opposing appointment of Clarence Thomas to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:
 
Lawyers Club strongly opposes appointment of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. The evidence is overwhelming that he does not support the right to abortion and opposes affirmative action programs that benefit women and minorities. He has made his views known in his speeches, by his record as Chairman of the EEOC, and by membership in the professional and social organizations in which he participates.

Clarence Thomas has indicated that he would deprive women of the fundamental right to control their reproduction based upon his belief that the U.S. Constitution requires the criminalization of abortion. His belief in the "constitutional right to life" of a fetus greatly increases the likelihood that the court will overturn Roe v. Wade and return us to a time where women, especially those of low economic status, would be forced once again to resort to self-induced or back alley abortions.

We also oppose Clarence Thomas because of his views relating to protection of the civil rights of classes of individuals who have historically suffered from discrimination. He believes that affirmative action diminishes the motivation of the women and minorities who benefit from these programs. His rigid opposition to group rights will adversely affect the hard-won gains that women, minorities, and others who have been discriminated against have made in the quest to achieve social and economic equality.

Clarence Thomas' performance at the EEOC reflected an arrogant lack of respect for established laws, policies and legal doctrines. It would therefore be foolish, at best, to place him in the position of interpreting and enforcing laws. At worst, giving him supreme judicial power would wreak havoc on the rights which women and minorities have managed to wrest for themselves thus far.

The Justices of the U.S Supreme Court are charged with the responsibility of enforcing all laws and doing justice for all people of this land. Women and people of color are an integral part of the make up of this country and their rights must be protected vigorously and vigilantly.

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Tags:  Clarence Thomas  equality  feminism  LCB  reproductive justice  SCOTUS 

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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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