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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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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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Our New Board Members

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, May 8, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2020

I would like to congratulate our new board members, Vaani Chawla, Deborah Cumba, Tristan Higgins, Kara Siegel, and Audrey Surridge. All of these women are leaders in our community and we are thrilled that they are joining the board.  Combined they have many years of legal experience, many with over 10 years of experience, and are all accomplished attorneys.  All have been active contributing members to Lawyers Club, including committee co-chairs. They have also been active in the legal community, including past presidents of specialty bars.  Please join me in congratulating them as we all look forward to the great work these women will do for Lawyers Club.

 

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

 


 

Tags:  board  leadership  leadership development  legal community 

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Vote

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Friday, March 27, 2020
Updated: Thursday, March 26, 2020

It is the time of year when we ask our members to vote for our new cohort of Lawyers Club board members.  Our board members are the backbone of the organization who ensure that engaging and valuable programming fulfills our mission and values.  I have found serving on the board as an especially rewarding experience. Our board members are talented women who devote countless hours of their time and inspire others to continue to carry the torch of the fight for equality.

I have no doubt that our current candidates for the board are equally accomplished and will be just as engaged. The candidates offer a wide array of experiences that will add to the strengths of our current board.  We are grateful that such an impressive group has agreed to continue to run during these difficult times.  Given the time and energy expended by these wonderful women, I encourage everyone to take time to learn about each of the candidates who will electronically circulate their credentials for your consideration.  Our elections open on April 1 and will close at 5:00 pm on May 1, 2020, and can be completed by mail or electronically.  Please make sure to VOTE!

 

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

 

Tags:  board  election  leadership  mission  women 

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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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Guest Blog - Taking Ownership of Weakness: Leading Despite Uncertainty

Posted By Frantz Farreau, Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Guest Blog - Taking Ownership of Weakness: Leading Despite Uncertainty

 

I remember when I first started leading a counseling group at RJ Donovan State Prison. I was incredibly unsure of myself. Who am I, I thought, to lead this group, filled with people who are all so much older than I am? I felt thoroughly unqualified, and I believed that the group members would inevitably question my right to lead them. At the time, I did not realize that feeling unsure was a normal part of leading. I thought that leading a group meant that I came in with all the answers. I thought that I had to know exactly what was going to happen, exactly what I was going to say, exactly how people were going to respond. It was an unrealistic expectation, because everybody has uncertainty. All people, including people leading, are unsure of themselves at some point.

 

Ultimately, I opted to address the question head on. I told the group members that I was feeling unsure, and I wanted them to know that I would try my best, but to let me know what I could improve to help them as much as possible. By talking to the group members about my uncertainty, I was taking ownership of the fact that I was not perfect, but I was still in the lead. By addressing my uncertainty, I allowed both myself and the members of the group to see that I was able to lead even though I did not have all the answers.

 

When I decided to present my uncertainty to the group, I was quite surprised by the response: I found that the group members not only had no qualms about my being a leader, but were also thankful that I had demonstrated that it was okay to be unsure. When they saw me talk about my concerns, they saw me model what they needed to do to address their concerns about their own lives. In showing my vulnerability and uncertainty, I was still leading them because I was showing them what they needed to do to achieve their goals: ask for help. And they respected that. It is easy to sit from a facilitator chair and talk to the participants about the importance of being vulnerable. That is not true leadership. True leadership is being able to demonstrate so others can learn.

 

Going through that experience helped me understand that a leader continues to be inspiring, even in moments of vulnerability and weakness. Leaders are not inspirational because they have no uncertainty, they are inspirational because they show us that having foibles is okay. They are willing to be open about facing challenges and in so doing demonstrate strength. When leaders take ownership of their weaknesses, it makes us realize that we are strong enough to lead and inspire ourselves.

 

Frantz C. Farreau wrote this for Lawyers Club’s Leadership Development Committee, and is an attorney, real estate agent, and the volunteer coordinator for the Restorative Justice Reentry Prep Program at RJMP in San Diego. 

Tags:  confidence  Donovan  guest blogger  insecurity  LCB  leadership  leadership development  prison  reentry 

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Guest Blog - Leading Lawyers: Choosing Vulnerability

Posted By Guest Blogger, Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Leading Lawyers: Choosing Vulnerability 

This summer, someone I knew took his life – the brother-in-law of one of my best friends. I did not know him well. I know his wife better, and have watched his teenage kids grow up over the years. I became peripherally involved at the last minute: Asked to assist with legal insight and advice navigating work-related litigation; talking and texting with his concerned and anxious wife; determining if I could possibly help relieve his fears and anxiety.

I never ended up actually communicating with him directly. Instead of making our scheduled call, he chose to opt out of life. His family had been worried. They knew he could be at risk. They tried to get him to seek help – not simply legal, but psychiatric. As I understand it, he refused, not seeing an avenue out other than the one he chose. 

When something this sad happens, it leaves everyone with questions. A main one for me: Why is there such a continued stigma in our society about seeking support for depression, mental illness, or for a really bad, it-just-keeps-getting-worse time in life?

Particularly in the legal culture, heaven help those who show vulnerability. We are a culture of advocates, warriors, and, quite frankly, bullies. The old “take no prisoners” mentality gets equally applied to those within our firms and sometimes families. It happens all the time; I know from decades of personal experience and observation.

For our own health and the well-being of our profession, that antiquated mentality needs to change. Yes, we are tough—tough enough to make it acceptable to ask for help and support when we need it, without the accompanying stigma and shame. We lose too many brilliant lawyers every year. Even more suffer silently from depression and substance abuse issues. We all know the statistics.

Vulnerability is strength.

How as a leader in your life and law firm do you embrace and model vulnerability? How do you acknowledge that it is acceptable to be human and still be a strong, brilliant advocate? How do you show up for others by demonstrating with your mere honest presence that they do not have to do life alone?

Somehow, in the legal culture, we need to accept and acknowledge that it is okay to be vulnerable. That in our vulnerability, contrary to popular opinion, we actually demonstrate strength – a strength of perseverance and surrender that opens the door to true meaningful connection with others, a connection that might just help us heal, that might just help us find a path forward out of the dark, both as individuals and in the collective.

The fact is, we all need help at one time or another. Unless you live in a Teflon bubble, life gets the best of everyone at some point. Sometimes our only way through is by accepting that we cannot do it alone. It is too big. Too messy. Too unknown. Just plain too much. And, that has to be acceptable.

A paradigm shift starts with individual leaders. Begin to be brave and dare to challenge the idea that vulnerability means weakness and failure. We are all human and imperfect, accept that fact and life gets easier. It just does. 

My heart goes out to my friend, her family, the kids, and loved ones. Take time to care for you and yours. Remember, success is a team sport – you don’t have to do it alone.

Michele Powers, Esq., wrote this for the Leadership Development Committee and is the owner of Elite Lawyer Coaching (www.elitelawyercoach.com).

Tags:  authentic  career  guest blogger  LCB  leadership  legal profession  strength  vulnerability 

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Chasing the Last Wave: "What's Diversity Got to Do With It?"

Posted By Molly Tami, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What’s Diversity Got to Do With It? 

  

      Throughout the history of feminism, women as a group have been the “other” gender fighting for equal rights and equal opportunities. While women make up almost half of total law school graduates, the data confirms that women are not equally represented in law firm partnership, in corporate counsel offices, on the bench or in other leadership positions in our profession. We are all familiar with the explanations and reasons given for this, and we continue to struggle to change this reality.

 

     Our hope for change is fueled in part by the notion that legal employers want to boast of a “diverse” workforce to attract diverse candidates as well as to meet their clients’ expectations and demands for a diverse group of people to work on their legal matters. The arguments for diversity are indeed compelling. But isn’t it perplexing that women, particularly those with family responsibilities, feel at times that they have to stake their claim to executive positions or positions of leadership in the name of diversity rather than equality?

 

     I’ve been thinking about that question since spending a weekend with five corporate lawyers, all working in the auto finance field in the mid-west (a male dominated arena). These women are all very accomplished and successful. One of the women in her mid-forties was struggling with a decision about whether to pursue an even bigger job at her company. In reality, she felt that she was already doing most of the duties of the elevated position but not getting the recognition or pay for it. At the same time, she values her current work arrangement which allows her to leave in the afternoons to pick up her child at school, and then return to work either at the office or at home. And on Fridays, she works remotely from home. She wanted to pursue the new position, but did not want to lose this flexibility and ability to manage and enjoy both her work and family life.

 

    She was discussing with our group how she might approach her boss about taking the new position/title while keeping her current work arrangement. Her proposed argument to the boss went like this: the company wants and values “diversity” in executive roles and as a working mother she provides that diversity. My immediate reaction to that argument was this: why do women who have both proven their worth in the workplace and value their family role have to pitch their worthiness for a promotion in the name of diversity? What’s diversity got to do with it? Women are at least half the population in this country, and according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70% of women with children under 18 participate in the labor force. So why do we still view the ideal worker norm as an individual (male or female) whose work life exists in a vacuum void of consideration of family responsibilities?  

 

    This is a difficult issue that I will attempt to explore in subsequent posts. For now I raise it to bring awareness to it as a major obstacle that we must address. When it comes to women being equally represented in leadership positions within the legal profession, we are definitely still “chasing the last wave.”

 

This blog post was authored by Molly Tami. Molly Tami serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law.  She previously designed and taught a course on Law, Gender and the Work/Family Conflict and is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession.              

Tags:  bias  Chasing the Last Wave  diversity  family responsibilities  feminism  feminist  gender  LCB  leadership  legal profession 

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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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