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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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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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Lawyers Club urges Senate to delay vote on Judge Kavanaugh

Posted By Lawyers Club of San Diego, by Danna Cotman, President, Thursday, September 27, 2018

One, then two, now three and four accusers. As Shakespeare said, truth will out; however, bringing that truth to the light sooner than later is worth demanding. See the most recent way Lawyers Club demands equality in connection with nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. How are you demanding equality?


Read our letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee below and here.

 
 

Tags:  equality  justice  LCB  metoo  SCOTUS 

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Advancing the Rights of the LGBTQ Community: Expansion of Gender-Neutral Restrooms

Posted By Brenda Lopez, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On March 1, 2017, California required single-occupancy restrooms in businesses, government buildings, and places of public accommodation. These single-occupancy restrooms can include up to one flush toilet and one urinal and must be identified by gender-neutral signage. I am a firm supporter of gender-neutral restrooms and the ideals supporting this equitable advancement. No longer will transgender and gender nonconforming individuals feel the anxiety that comes with choosing a restroom of a specific gender in a public place and being questioned, or worse, being told they are entering the “wrong” restroom.

This change in California’s laws regarding public restrooms reminds me of the dismantling of Jim Crow-era laws, when I think of the impact it has likely had on those advocating for the change. Yet, the first time I entered a gender-neutral restroom, I complained about having to endure a smelly urinal when I do not need a urinal to use the restroom. I was grossed out by the smelly urinal plastered against the wall. I felt very uncomfortable with this unfamiliar look and smell. I remember trying to hold my breath and running in and out of the restroom as fast as I possibly could. As a heterosexual woman, it was the first time I had seen a urinal in person.

I recognized my selfishness immediately and wondered how many others had similar experiences and thoughts. Having been in many gender-neutral restrooms since then, I have grown accustomed to it and embraced it as a new norm. If my temporary discomfort plays a small part in LGBTQ community advancement towards equality and minimizes fear and anxiety for that community, it is happily endured.

Brenda Lopez is a Certified Family Law Specialist working at Antonyan Miranda, LLP, the current Family Law Chair for the SDCBA, and wrote this for San Diego Lawyers Club’s LGBTQ Committee.



Tags:  discomfort  equality  gender-neutral  gender-neutral restrooms  Jim Crow  LGBTQ  urinal 

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March!

Posted By Sara Waller, Saturday, August 25, 2018

This coming SundayAugust 26, at 4:00 p.m. the Women’s Museum of California will celebrate Women’s Equality Day by participating in the 13th Annual Suffrage Parade in Balboa Park. This parade commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For those of you who are not history or constitutional law buffs, the 19th Amendment prohibited citizens from being denied their right to vote based on their sex. That’s right folks, on August 261920women finally won the right to vote.

 

It took women advocates nearly 100 years to win the right to vote, and although we are nearing the 100th anniversary of that right, women throughout this country, including right here in San Diego, are still fighting for equality. Equality in politics. Equality in the workplace. Equality in education. Equality in health. Equality at home. Last year, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017 indicated the United States had fallen four spots (49th out of 144 countries) in gender parity.

 

Although we may not agree on all political issues, one thing is certain: Women are independent individuals who deserve equal rights and responsibilities under our Constitution. Our unique experiences and perspectives deserve to be included in the equation and the discussion, and women deserve a seat at the table. The only way to reach gender equality is to continue putting ourselves out there. With our slow growth toward equality, and recent backslide, it is no wonder there are a record-setting number of women running for the U.S. House in 2018. We need to put our name in the hat, and we need to get out and vote. If we stand together, we can achieve incredible things.

 

Let’s make ourselves be seen and heard! All are welcome, and participants are encouraged to wear white, wear sashes and/or buttons, and to waive Suffrage, ERA, Equal Pay, #MeToo, and other movement signs to celebrate our journey toward equal rights.

 

Participants will meet in the lawn area across from the Organ Pavilion, and the Suffrage Parade will move through the Prado and Organ Pavilion areas. Anyone interested in marching with their fellow Lawyers Club members THIS SUNDAY (August 26th), please contact Vaani Chawla at vchawla@chawlalaw.com for more information. 

 

Sara Waller wrote this for the Lawyers Club Equality and Action Committee. 

Tags:  19th Amendment  equality  marge  parade  suffrage  Suffrage Parade​  women  Women’s Equality Day  Women’s Museum of California  women’s vote 

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Guest Blog: LGBTQ Rights Up For Interpretation?

Posted By Kimberly Ahrens, Wednesday, March 14, 2018
 

LGBTQ Rights Up For Interpretation?

 

This past June, I fell in love with Tennessee after visiting a friend who moved there a couple years back. We spent an entire day floating down the Harpeth River—enjoying the slow pace and dense lush forest that hugs the riverbank. After our canoeing adventure, we gathered around a fire pit in her backyard, watched a blanket of fireflies illuminate the earth around us, and discussed how different life is in Tennessee compared to Southern California.

 

The conversation turned to the question of whether my wife and I would ever consider moving to Tennessee. As a lesbian couple, it is impossible for us to not consider the level of LGBTQ acceptance when we consider moving to, or even visiting, another state or country. And, Tennessee is a prime example of a state that does not have any explicit law prohibiting discrimination against me based on my sexual orientation.  

 

Without explicit federal protection from workplace discrimination, LGBTQ families like mine are left at the mercy of state non-discrimination laws and shifting interpretations of federal law. A simple decision to move to a state void of any statewide anti-discrimination laws, coupled with recent federal government position reversals, could easily result in an inability to find a job merely because of the gender of my spouse.

 

Over the years, LGBTQ people have been forced to rely on a hodgepodge of regulations, state laws, federal guidance opinions, and local ordinances to create a patchwork of protection against discrimination. Unfortunately, this path can be unpredictable and unreliable because many states do not have any anti-discrimination laws and federal agencies have complete discretion to rescind, revise, or rollback their guidance opinions.

 

I look forward to learning more about recent changes to the interpretation of LGBTQ protections under federal civil rights laws and pending legislation at an upcoming MCLE panel discussion coordinated by Lawyers Club's LGBTQ Committee and Tom Homann LGBT Law Association (Friday, March 16, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. – register here to join us).  

 

The panel will include esteemed speakers, Amanda Goad, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and Alexander Chen, Equal Justice Works Fellow, National Center for Lesbian Rights. They will provide an in-depth review of recent federal government position reversals on sexual discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, religion as a license to discriminate, transgender military service, and more.

 

After the panel discussion, guests are welcome to attend a reception where we can mingle and continue talking about these important topics.

 

Kimberly Ahrens is the founder of The Ahrens Law Office and is the current chair of Lawyers Club’s LGBTQ Committee.

 

Tags:  discrimination  equality  guest blogger  LCB  LGBTQ 

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Chasing the Last Wave: Reclaiming My Name

Posted By Molly Toronski Wescott, Friday, December 8, 2017

Chasing the Last Wave: Reclaiming My Name

 

Although I have been absent from the Lawyers Club Blog (LCB) for some time, I have nevertheless been chasing my own last wave on the path to realizing my true, feminist self. My journey recently culminated with a legal name change, as reflected by my new last name. I have come to think of my recent experiences as “reclaiming my original name.”

 

When I married young decades ago, I took my husband’s last name without giving it a second thought. That is what women (or at least the vast majority of women) did at that time. That married name became my professional name as well as my personal/family name. At one point, I recall pondering the question of why women continue to take their husbands’ names, a tradition rooted in patriarchy and property rights, as we lawyers know. It is, of course, more convenient for couples/parents and children to have the same last name, but why in heterosexual marriages do couples always assume the man’s last name? (I recognize that some couples join and hyphenate their names, but that can be problematic in many ways.) If men took women’s names in equal share, then the practice of a shared last name would seem fairer and more in line with my feminist thinking.

 

When I found myself starting a new chapter of life in San Diego (no longer married), I began to think about not retaining my married last name. I was not eager to retake my maiden name (which I had been using and continue to use as my middle name), as it is not the easiest name to spell or pronounce. Moreover, that name harkens back to who I was at a much younger age, and I’m not that person anymore. I then began to think about taking an entirely different last name. I read an article about women divorcing later in life and taking a new last name entirely of their own choosing. One day it came to me that I would take my mother’s maiden/adopted last name of “Wescott.” I had always loved that name and when I mentioned the idea to my mother who just turned 94, she felt honored and thrilled.

 

And so I began the legal process of petitioning to change my name. After filing the petition and arranging publication, I was required to appear for a court hearing on a Friday morning calendar. While I was not sure what to expect at the hearing, I found a diverse group of people changing their names for various reasons and a judge who treated the proceedings as wholly celebratory! I walked out of her courtroom feeling happy and complete, and feeling like I had somehow reclaimed my original name. The process of then changing my last name (and email) on numerous accounts and in every place that my name exists has been a time consuming one, but not as daunting of a task as I had feared. The process proved liberating, and it is now essentially complete.

 

We assume many different “names” and titles during our lives, and many are temporary. Often it is necessary to let go of one form of name or one chapter of life in order to move on with life in a deeper way. Letting go of my former last name and assuming a name once held by my mother has allowed this new chapter in my life to take hold in a much deeper way while allowing me to reclaim something I had thought lost.    

 

As we chase the last wave of feminism, I hope we will figure out a better solution for “naming” ourselves, our spouses and our children, so that we can all retain our original name. 

 

 

Molly Toronski Wescott, who serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law, is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession.

 

 

Tags:  Chasing the Last Wave  equality  feminism  feminist  gender  LCB  name  women 

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