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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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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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Breaking Bread with Judge Vallera Johnson

Posted By Valerie Garcia Hong for Lawyers Club's Diverse Women's Committee, Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2020

 

It was a crisp Sunday afternoon in Coronado. Everyone was dressed in their “Sunday best” like we’d just sang “Hallelujah” hours earlier. Only, it wasn’t church. It was one of the first Women of Color in Law lunches.

As a new lawyer who had recently moved from Chicago to San Diego, I did not have a community of colleagues, friends, or mentors early on in my career. I was “winging it.” I attended one of these lunches hoping to meet someone who could guide me. That afternoon, I sat down next to a woman with a warm smile and contagious energy. Over bread (because all good discussions start with bread), I later learned that the woman seated next to me was Judge Vallera Johnson, one of the founders of Women of Color in Law. Judge Johnson, along with Judge Lillian Lim, began to organize informal lunches where law students and lawyers could get together to share their stories navigating a legal career in San Diego.

Five years after that Sunday afternoon, Judge Johnson invited me to join the Board of Directors for Women of Color in Law. I was a mother of two young girls under the age of 4 and a young partner at a law firm balancing business development and lawyering. Judge Johnson asked me to join a panel with Judge Tamila Ipema, Stacie East, Sabina Clorfeine, and Katy Goshtasbi to talk about Sheryl Sandburg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. I told Judge Johnson that I could barely manage a shower that morning and did not know if I was the right person to talk about “leaning in.” Judge Johnson told me that this was exactly why I was the right person to join the panel. Reflecting on her own life as a working mother, Judge Johnson gave me the permission (or authority that I assume only a judge can offer) to pause, tap out, and lean in when I was ready. This is the kind of experience and reflection that I value in my friendship and mentorship with Judge Johnson.

It is no surprise that the Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Diverse Women Committee will be honoring Judge Johnson with a reception on February 13, 2020register here. Judge Johnson has been an Administrative Law Judge with the State of California’s Office for Administrative Hearings since 1990. She’s been recognized for her commitment to diversity from several organizations including the California Lawyers Association and Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association. Throughout her career, Judge Johnson has been instrumental in diversifying the bench and developing a pipeline of qualified candidates.

Women of Color in Law has been “breaking bread” in larger luncheons and smaller intimate meetups with law students and lawyers for over a decade. California Judicial Appointments Secretary, Justice Martin J. Jenkins, will discuss the process of judicial appointments with Governor Newsom at Women of Color in Law’s “Find Your Seat on the Bench” lunch on February 16, 2020register here.

Valerie Garcia Hong is the Founder of Garcia Hong Law, is always willing to break bread and share stories, and wrote this for Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Diverse Women’s Committee.

 

 

 

 

Tags:  advancement  attrition  bias  diverse  diversity  Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association  Governor Newsom  implicit bias  inclusion  judicial appointment  lean in  Martin J. Jenkins  mentors  mentorship  minority  retention  Sheryl Sandberg  Women of Color in Law 

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All Hands on Deck – Inclusion Includes You

Posted By Kevonna Ahmad for Lawyers Club's Diverse Women's Committee, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

It is no secret that law firms have struggled with achieving and maintaining a diverse workforce. And, while law firms have made leaps and bounds in recruiting diverse candidates, the unfortunate fact remains that women lawyers and lawyers of color have the highest rates of attrition in the profession. In fact, a recent study revealed that the number of minority women lawyers who leave their law firms has steadily risen in the last decade. Minority women made up one-third of all associates who left their law firms in 2017. These statistics are startling and indicate that there is still work to be done within the profession. But what can we, as members of Lawyers Club of San Diego, do to help facilitate this important work?


As a minority woman lawyer, I have experienced the challenges of trying to find a firm where I felt I could grow as an attorney and advance toward partnership. Although I am a new lawyer, my post-law school job search made it clear to me that doing so would be no easy feat. After what seemed like a thousand law firm interviews, I was fortunate to find my current firm, where the culture and people finally felt right. Every firm is unique, but here are three ways most firms can curb the high rates of minority lawyer attrition and promote diversity and inclusion.


1. Have a Formal Mentorship Program: Many minority lawyers, including myself, are the first person in their family to enter into the practice of law. Having a mentor as an ally in a law firm is a critical resource that should not be underestimated. A mentor should act as a sounding board for the diverse associate, show them the ropes and help them get acquainted to the firm. The mentor should also act as both a source of work and a source of constructive criticism for the associate. Having a mentor greatly increases the chances that a diverse lawyer will feel like their law firm will provide long-term support for their career.


2. Promote Diverse Lawyers: Studies have shown that the presence of diverse attorneys in leadership roles has a positive impact on both innovation and diversity. Diverse lawyers should be present on key firm decision-making committees such as the partner selection, compensation and executive committees. This makes business sense because clients are increasingly demanding diverse representation. Moreover, diverse attorneys are more likely to stay at a firm where attorneys who “look like them” have a chance at advancement and leadership within the firm.


3. Give Diverse Lawyers Opportunities / Check Implicit Bias: Whether we like it or not, everyone carries implicit biases. Unfortunately, sometimes these biases can lead to diverse attorneys receiving less opportunities than their white counterparts. Firms seeking to retain diverse talent should be mindful of the quality of the work being assigned to their diverse associates. Diverse associates should be given work that is as equally challenging as their white counterparts including opportunities to interact with clients, interact with opposing counsel, appear in court, and provide advice and counsel. While providing less-challenging work to diverse associates may merely be an “implicit bias” of law firm leadership, these attorneys recognize when they are not being valued and we will undoubtedly leave a firm if their career growth is being stifled.


As members of Lawyers Club of San Diego, I encourage you to incorporate these three suggestions into your firm’s or organization’s diversity and inclusion/retention strategies. Advancing diversity in the legal profession is an important issue which affects all of us, and one which we all can play a role in championing.


Join us on February 13, 2020 at Procopio from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Women of Color reception where Lawyers Club will honor and celebrate women of color in the legal community with keynote speaker the Honorable Vallera Johnson

Kevonna Ahmad is a Labor and Employment Associate at Fisher & Phillips LLP and wrote this for Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Diverse Women’s Committee.

 

 

 

Tags:  advancement  attrition  bias  diverse  diversity  implicit bias  inclusion  mentors  mentorship  minority  retention 

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Guest Blog: Why Support Lawyers Club?

Posted By Eric Ganci, Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Why Support Lawyers Club?

 

I was asked to write an article about why I support Lawyers Club. And more importantly, why I, as a male, support an organization with a mission statement focused on females.

 

Any time I’m asked about my support for LC or any similar organization, I have the same gut reaction—because this talk can go one of two ways. The first way is the expected answer: LC has an incredible mission statement, it’s well-run, with quality events, it gives platforms to important issues, and voices to the underrepresented, etc. But, that’s not where my initial reaction goes when I’m asked this.

 

And, I get asked – at least a few times a year, “Why are you a member of LC, isn’t that an organization for women?” That right there? That’s the reason I support LC. It’s because I’m even asked that question, and it’s the fact that I’ve even been asked to write an article like this. The reason that anyone sees an organization with a gender-focus as something that they can’t, or needn’t, or shouldn’t be a part of, is exactly why I support LC. So, I’m not going to write an article about why I support LC; instead, I’ll discuss how you can support LC.

 

This is what I’ve been doing over the past few years, and I hope it lights a fire in you to do the same.

 

Call the organization by its proper focus:

 

Let’s start with the LC mission statement: “To advance the status of women in the law and society.”

 

So, pop quiz—I’ll give you a statement, and you say if it’s right or wrong. (Yes, you are being graded on this, and yes, I am judging you based on how you answer this). Ok, the statement: “This is a female bar organization,” or “This is an organization for women.”

 

If you said it was wrong, then [hugs]. If not, then [facepalm]. There’s no faster way to create the wall of “Me v. You” then to identify this organization in a limited way, or “just as” something. If you’re explaining this organization to a male, you might as well say, “This is a female org, for females, run by females . . . and you’re not included, invited, or wanted.” Because even if you don’t say this, this is what the listener hears.

 

My advice, say what the organization is by its mission statement. Nowhere in the mission statement does it say it’s only for females. Or to be technical, it doesn’t say it’s for females per se. It says this org is here to advance women in the legal field and society. Ah, that’s some inclusive stuff right there!

 

Ok, now that we have a proper framing to who we are as an organization, what are some actual things you can do right this second (well, after you finish reading this article).

 

Get male attorneys involved:

 

Guess what? Many men appreciate fact that an organization would want to foster this kind of mission. But you know what, men can be a part of this support too! With leadership shoes in the legal profession still overwhelmingly being filled by a more seasoned generation of white men, one of the best approaches is inviting the exact people in power to make change.

 

So, my ask to you: Think of your male colleagues, reach out to them, and offer to bring them to an event. Go to the Lawyers Club website, find an event, and offer the invite.

 

This is what I’ve been doing in San Diego, and it’s been wonderful. Many men either feel like they are not wanted or they would just not be accepted at an organization focused on promoting women. But if you specifically invite them, bring them, and introduce them to other members, then you’re showing them they are wanted in this organization. It’s also incredibly inclusive to walk into the event with the person you invited. That can be easy as meeting them outside the event and walking in with them, but obviously you could rock-star it and walk or ride to the event with them.

 

Get young attorneys involved:

 

You know who will be still around when we’re retired? Younger people! Yes, let them carry the torch and take care of us when we’re older! Also, this needn’t be new attorneys—it can be law students too. I’d start with the law student organization presidents, because they’re the most likely to keep community service going after law school.

 

Get judges or other high-ranking legal professionals involved:

 

Simply put, this will help the fire spread. People notice when someone high up the food chain walks into the room. Especially if they’ve never been there before. Once you’ve brought this person in, ask them for suggestions of who else you could invite to join you next time. Keep that momentum going!

 

Bring one person, or a few?

 

Here’s food for thought: Now that you’re going to take action right after you finish this article, do you want to bring just one person, or do you want to bring several? My thought is to bring one. It’s way more intimate and special to know that you specifically reached out to only them. Plus, it’s easier to introduce one person to other attendees instead of a group. But, if you want to bring a group of people and can pull it off, then go for it!

 

Wrapping up:

 

 “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” said Gandhi, and so say I! Now that you’ve read my feelings on this, you can do one of two things: you can just take it in and maybe think it was a nice sentiment, or you can act on it. My hope is that you take action and reach out to some people, contacts both old and new, and invite them to join you. Offer to bring them to an event, and ask them to share this message with their spheres of influence. Actually, while writing this article I took a break and did the same thing myself by reaching out to a male colleague to invite him to a LC signature event: Red, White, and Brew (coming up on March 1, 2018). (And, if I’m patting myself on the back, last week I invited a female colleague who is also a newer lawyer to a LC luncheon). I’d love to hear if you do the same!

 

Guest blogger Eric Ganci is a DUI trial lawyer by day, and a face-melting live-band karaoke drummer by night.

Tags:  be the change  female organization  inclusion  male attorney  mission statement  outreach 

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more Calendar

9/30/2020
Fall Virtual Mixer: For Members New and Not-so New: Where Everyone Takes a Seat at the Bar!

10/15/2020
Diverse Women's Committee Program: Women at the Forefront of Social Change

10/26/2020
HTC MCLE Labor Trafficking 101

11/19/2020
Equal Pay Day Event

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