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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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Women Must Network

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, October 31, 2019

Networking skills play an integral role in women’s advancement in the legal profession. While many find networking to be tedious and awkward, networking can lead to referrals sources, new job opportunities, or even a promotion. Although women may generally be seen as more social than men, according to a 2018 Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, women network less than men. Instead of making networking a chore or an awkward attempt to obtain business from strangers, women should work on making connections and building relationships with people. To make the experience more engaging, find something in common with the other person that is interesting to talk about (not the law).


Networking is not just for private practice -- women in public agencies benefit as well. The same Women in Workplace report found that employees who interact regularly with leaders within their workplace are more likely to ask for and receive promotions, stay at their organizations, and aspire to be leaders. Since all attorneys benefit, JOIN US and put your networking skills to work at the Taste of North County Networking Mixer.

 

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

 

 

Tags:  advancement  book of business  connections  job opportunities  leaders  Lean In  legal profession  networking  promotions  referral challenge  referrals  women  workplace 

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Thank You

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, October 17, 2019

This year Lawyers Club celebrates its 47th anniversary of advancing the status of women in the law and society through advocacy and activism. Since its establishment, Lawyers Club has received numerous awards and accolades for its informative programming and advocacy for policies to advance the status of women. Our charitable arm, the Lawyers Club Fund for Justice, has awarded more than $400,000 to 45 organizations since its inception in 1997. Lawyers Club has also put on engaging dinner programs, featuring distinguished speakers, such as former Attorney General and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Ret.), U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, Professor Anita Hill, and former United States Attorney General Hon. Loretta Lynch. Lawyers Club could not have achieved all of its success without the generous support of its sponsors. On behalf of Lawyers Club, I would like to THANK our sponsors for their support and commitment to advancing our mission. We are excited to have recently released our new sponsorship booklet. I encourage our sponsors, and anyone interesting in becoming a sponsor, to review the booklet to learn of our sponsorship opportunitiesand reach out to Tracy Schimelfenig with questions.

 

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

 

  

Tags:  activism  advocacy  gratitude  legal profession  sponsorship  success  support 

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Unconventional Paths to Leadership

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President's Perspective, Thursday, October 10, 2019

Even before law school, I knew I wanted to be a civil litigator. Life, however, put me on a different path. I graduated in the middle of the Great Recession -- offers were rescinded, layoffs were at unprecedented levels, and it was extremely difficult for a recent graduate to find a job as an attorney.

Fortunately, I found an opportunity at a small firm focusing on insurance coverage. Although I had no interest in that practice area, it was a foot in the door. When an opportunity arose, I moved on to another firm, where I was able to gain the tools I needed to be a civil litigator. Now, I practice in an area that complements my skills, challenges me, and brings me pleasure.

My story is not unique. There are many women I know that had to take different paths to succeed. Reflecting back on my journey, I would have benefitted from advice and guidance from an experienced attorney. For those of you who want to consider other paths in the legal field or how to navigate through uninspiring legal work, this month’s luncheon will focus on unconventional paths to success. The luncheon will allow our members to learn from panelists who will share their insight on how each used creativity and ingenuity to excel in the practice of law and in the community. Register

 

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

 

  

Tags:  career  lawyers  leadership development  legal profession 

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The Nation’s Best Legal Commentator: What I Learned Through Muppet Theory

Posted By Guest Blogger Haylee Saathoff, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Have you ever thought about what kind of Muppet you are? I can admit, before learning that this year’s Annual Dinner speaker was Dahlia Lithwick, I had not. Dahlia Lithwick is an accomplished, experienced journalist, and, for lack of a better term, a downright cool woman. She has made her career as a journalist, covering law and politics. She was front and center in covering Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and was even the subject of one of her own columns when she bravely shared her own #metoo story. In 2018, Lithwick was awarded the 2018 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism and referred to as, “the nation’s best legal commentator for two decades.”

Ironically, though, one of her more viral articles was not actually one of her strictly legal or political pieces. Lithwick has remarked that the piece most repeated to her, brought up in conversation, and remembered by readers has nothing to do with the decisions of the Supreme Court or the political happenings of the last twenty years. It has to do with the Muppets. Yes, the Muppets.

In 2012, Lithwick wrote an article for Slate, the outlet where she is currently senior editor, called “Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types.” The heart of the piece is this: there are only Chaos Muppets and Order Muppets, and we are all one of the two. Once you know which type of Muppet you are, you will have it all figured out –whom you should marry, what your job should be, all of it.

While I cannot say I have it all figured out, I can say that when I read Lithwick’s piece on Chaos Theory, I did not even have to reach the end before I had already self-identified as an Order Muppet. You are either order (like Kermit the Frog, Bert) or chaos (like Miss Piggy, Ernie, Animal), and to me, the choice was glaringly obvious. Maybe to others less so, or maybe it is easier to identify the people around you, your spouses, friends, family, and colleagues, than it is to identify yourself.

One of my favorite lines from Lithwick’s piece on Muppet Theory is, “It is hard to be ruthlessly honest when evaluating one’s own Muppet Classification. As is the case when going shopping for white pants, your best bet is probably just to trust a friend.” Her writing style is one reason why I think Lithwick is a downright cool woman. She sets an example that you can be funny, creative, smart, and serious all at once. That you can write about Supreme Court decisions that change the foundation of our country one day, and the Muppets the next. And you know what? You can go back to the Supreme Court the day after that.

As a woman at the beginning of my career, I sometimes worry that the only way to be taken seriously is to be, well, serious. Dahlia Lithwick’s career and work is a testament to the fact that the personality you show in your work may just be what others remember about you. It is entirely possible to be both creative and by-the-book, both funny and serious; these are not “either/or” options. Really, the only “either/or” option is your Muppet Type—you are either Order or Chaos, and you are definitely one of the two.

Lawyers Club of San Diego is delighted to feature Lithwick as this year’s Annual Dinner speaker on May 9, 2019. Tickets are on sale now, click here to register.

 

Haylee Saathoff is a labor and employment attorney at Fisher Phillips and a member of San Diego Lawyers Club’s Annual Dinner Committee.

 

 

 

Tags:  Annual Dinner  chaos  Dahlia Lithwick  guest blogger  legal profession  MeToo  muppets  order  women 

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Lawyers Club asks CA State Bar to adopt provisions to facilitate the practice of law by military spouse attorneys in CA

Posted By Lawyers Club of San Diego President Danna Cotman, Friday, November 9, 2018
Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2018

Lawyers Club encouraged The State Bar of California to adopt provisions so that military spouses can practice law in California without limitations that disadvantage them in the hiring process. Read our letter to the Special Admissions office.



Download File (PDF)

Tags:  career  demand equality  easelicensingburden  law  legal profession  mentorship  milspouse  milspouseJD  notanotherbarexam  provisionallicense  servicemember  StateBarCA  supportmilitaryfamilies 

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Why the outing of sexual harassers is not enough

Posted By Olga Álvarez, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why the outing of sexual harassers is not enough

 

Originally published in the San Diego Union Tribune

 

As the #Metoo campaign unfolds and the lives of powerful men crumble before our very eyes, Time magazine has made the bold choice to select the Silence Breakers as Persons of the Year. Like many feminists, I applaud the magazine’s choice, but my cheer is tempered by caution. To be sure, the outing of the most brazen and most powerful of sexual harassers may be vindicating to women who have suffered in silence for so long. But to me, the key challenge is not determining how to proportionately punish the harassers, nor is it how we can better nip harassment in the bud, or even how to prevent a culture of harassment from blossoming in the workplace. Instead, the more relevant, albeit the more vexing problem is, what makes our industries – from media to academia, from entertainment to law – so ripe for sexual harassment?

 

The problem is broader than any one industry, and broader even than the workplace. We know that sexual harassment and sexual violence exists in our schools, religious institutions, and even our homes. Regrettably, our culture has failed to keep pace with feminist ideals of personal choice and self-determination. Our media, our education system, our entertainment and our laws, routinely objectify, commodify, and regulate the bodies of women. The outing of serial harassers in newsrooms, legislatures and Hollywood demonstrates that in far too many industries, sexual violence is the norm and victim-blaming is commonplace: the very definition of a rape culture. We not only blame women; we don’t believe them.

 

In June, Anita Hill headlined Lawyers Club’s Annual Dinner. In 1991, a 35-year-old Anita Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. The committee, led by Joe Biden and comprised entirely of white men, eagerly cross-examined Ms. Hill about her sex life, why she “allowed” the harassment to continue, and, of course, why she hadn’t come forward sooner with these allegations? Why, indeed. (Joe Biden offered a half-hearted apology to Anita Hill in recent weeks, no doubt encouraged by the number of news stories about sexual harassment.)  In the recent past, women and men coming forward with harassment allegations against powerful men have been derided by the accused as liars, extortionists, too undesirable to harass, oversensitive and of course, the perennial favorite, crazy.

 

So, why don’t more women come forward? Because we can be certain that our personal lives will be combed through by lawyers and reporters; that our careers will be snuffed out before they’ve begun; that we will be terminated from our jobs for making trouble; that too many of us do not understand our rights, and even if we did, we can’t access a lawyer, can’t afford a lawyer, and really can’t afford to lose our jobs.  As a society, we need to ask smarter questions. Questions like, “Why would he do such a thing?” and “How can we help you through this?” rather than “What did you do to lead him on / deserve this?” “Were you in a room alone with him?” or “What were you wearing?” (Brock Turner’s rape victim, famously, wore a cardigan, as if that were the point.)

 

Instead of perpetuating a culture where victims of sexual harassment and abuse are blamed and the perpetrator’s actions are excused, every one of us must take responsibility for changing it. Better laws and stronger policies are necessary but insufficient on their own. Often, laws and policies focus on how to address harassment after the fact. Of course, perfecting those remedies is critical. But what is really needed is to ask how we can prevent harassment from occurring in the first place. 

Part of the answer, of course, is buy-in from the top. The C-suite, the managing partner, the agency director, need to make clear to the organization that workplace harassment will not be tolerated.  More broadly, though, we need to both develop and teach empathy, communication skills, and problem-solving skills to our children well before they enter the workforce. We must offer intellectually honest sex education curricula which emphasize healthy sexual behavior, self-respect and respect for others. Respect is anathema to objectification, the act of treating a person as an object without regard to their personhood or dignity.

 

Our harassment problem is, at its core, an objectification problem. Only when – and if – our society resolves to treat women as people, and by this I mean people who are fully capable of bodily self-determination, whose value is not defined by the male gaze, who deserve equal pay for equal work, will we be addressing the root cause of sexual harassment in a meaningful and holistic way.

 

Olga Álvarez is co-founder and shareholder of Heisner Álvarez, APC in La Jolla. She is a Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law and is president of Lawyers Club.

Tags:  LCB  legal profession  metoo  sexual harassment 

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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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Guest Blog: Combatting Sexual Harassment

Posted By Guest Blogger, Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Combatting Sexual Harassment

 

Daily news feeds are filled with stories of women coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment in a variety of industries. Allegations in the tech and entertainment industries have made headlines, but these issues equally impact attorneys.

Several issues contribute to sexual harassment in the legal profession:

o   36% of attorneys are women

o   18% of law firm equity partners are women

o   18% of managing partners are women

o   24.8% of general counsels at Fortune 500 companies are women

o   19.8% of general counsels at Fortune 501-1000 companies are women

o   31.1% of law school deans are women

  • Pay Inequity:  Pay inequity persists. Some female attorneys at high-profile firms have filed claims (and won settlements) alleging they are not paid equally despite the same level of experience, output and contribution. 
  • The Continuing Prevalence of Unchecked Behavior:  Over the last 12 months, public scandals in the technology and entertainment sectors reveal a pattern of powerful men engaging in offensive behavior. Several stories involve enablers who sat by silently--or worse, helped or rewarded harassers. The Harvey Weinstein scandal shows that many in Hollywood knew about his abhorrent behavior, but kept it a secret. Fox News renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract amid the Roger Ailes scandal, even after O’Reilly allegedly settled a harassment claim for $32 million.
  • Weak Attempts to Address the Issue:  Claiming a “commitment to a harassment-free workplace” will not cut it. Simply implementing requirements that a law firm will not tolerate unlawful behavior fails to address the underlying issue – that harassment thrives in cultures that turn the other way when allegations are raised. Decision-makers must stop viewing human resources as the department that exists to “protect the company.”

The #metoo campaign enabled millions to share their personal stories. This is a wake-up call.


Now is the time for solutions. Lawyers Club is hosting a Solutions Summit on November 3rd. The event will bring together industry experts, legal professionals, professors and students to robustly discuss these vital issues. The conference will focus on finding practical and viable solutions.

 

Topics that will be covered:

  • How to recruit allies
  • Practical tools and resources
  • How to change workplace culture, with the support of leadership

This is the beginning of a long journey. Join us on November 3rd to be a part of the solution.

 

Guest blogger Patti Perez is the Founder and President of PersuasionPoint Inc.

Tags:  Bill O'Reilly  Fox News  Harvey Weinstein  human resources  LCB  legal profession  metoo  Roger Ailes  sexual harassment  solutions  summit 

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Chasing the Last Wave: Trashing the Guilt ​

Posted By Molly T. Tami, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trashing the Guilt

 

Many women lawyers suffer from guilt over working too much (or not enough), shortchanging their kids and families on quality (and quantity) time, and in general, failing to be the perfect partner, mother, daughter, friend, worker, etc. Most of us have been there at one point in our lives. As we chase the last wave of feminism, isn’t it time we trashed the guilt and lived our lives on our own terms?

 

To further explore this, let’s revisit the topic of networking. In my last blog post, I urged lawyers to pursue yoga (as opposed to golf) for networking and making meaningful connections. How about we embrace other traditional women’s activities as great opportunities for networking, while trashing the guilt we’ve been conditioned to feel over taking time from the workday to enjoy such things? 

 

For example, would you feel justified attending a non-work related “hat luncheon” to support a philanthropic cause?  New York City women lawyers and business executives did just that at the annual Central Park Women’s Committee luncheon. And in doing so, they embraced the idea that “We’re Ladies, We Lunch and We Like It.” As one female lawyer attendee noted, "Men have their golf outings, we have this.” Another attendee noted that men would never apologize about leaving the office to go play golf and they don’t feel uncomfortable blurring lines between pleasure and business. So why should women?  (Be sure to click on the link and read the article to see the fabulous hats worn at the luncheon!)

 

I recently discovered that I too am a lady, who lunches, and likes it! I became a new member of ZLAC Rowing Club here in San Diego, (the oldest women’s rowing club in the country), and I attended the club’s annual Terrace Luncheon. (Disclaimer: the luncheon occurred on a Saturday so I did not have to miss work to attend.) I’m not much of a hat person, but in keeping with the club’s traditions and inspired by the ladies of NYC who attended the Central Park Women’s Committee luncheon, I donned a (borrowed) hat, put on a summery dress and enjoyed a spectacular Saturday afternoon luncheon on the club’s lovely terrace in Pacific Beach.

 

So ladies, let’s continue to chase the last wave and like the women at the NYC luncheon, feel no more guilt for guilty pleasures!

 

Molly Tami, 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  connections  equality  feminism  feminist  gender  golf  hat luncheon  legal profession  networking  women  yoga  ZLAC 

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Chasing the Last Wave: "Taking Networking to the Mat!"

Posted By Molly T. Tami , Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Taking Networking to the Mat!  

 

Do you play golf? Personally, I am not a fan of the sport for several reasons that I will address below. I recognize, however, that many people enjoy golf, and some find themselves obsessed with it. Most of those people are unquestionably men. Should more women be encouraged to “hit the links?”

 

Lawyers and other professionals often cite golf as the best networking opportunity out there. For that reason, women lawyers are urged to take up the game. In a commentary on why more women should play golf, the CEO of the Executive Women’s Golf Association states: “Golf has been deemed the sport of business. Few, if any, activities can duplicate the power of golf to boost one’s career regardless of gender. The game provides unmatchable networking time with clients, prospects and colleagues, including coveted access to senior management.” Recognizing this, the Lawyers Club and other professional women’s organizations have facilitated golf lessons for their members.

 

Perhaps golf is great for business, but there are good reasons why women don’t play this male dominated sport and frankly, don’t want to. Firstly, many women never had the opportunity to learn to play the sport while growing up, and thus, never developed the skills or the interest. Moreover, most women who have children or other family commitments do not have the time or inclination to spend hours on the golf course on weekends or evenings. I have witnessed many marriages severely strained by the husband’s obsession with his weekend golf game while his wife stayed home to take care of the children and oversee the family’s weekend activities. (I hope this phenomenon was more prevalent with my age group of the baby boomers, than it is with younger couples.)  Finally, I know many women who would rather be pursuing other activities for exercise, enjoyment, networking, and connecting in a meaningful way with other people.

 

For example, let’s consider yoga. It’s hugely popular these days given its many health benefits and accessibility.Yoga for Everyone, a recent New York Times piece, extolls the virtues of a yoga practice. Yoga really is for everyone, and both men and women can practice together in a variety of settings. And in my experience, great connections can be forged before, during and after a yoga class!  

 

So here’s my idea. As we chase the last wave of feminism and work to advance women in the legal profession, I propose that we strive to make yoga the sport of business and networking. I would argue that the non-judgmental and reflective nature of yoga aligns well with the goals of making meaning connections and reaching agreement with others. If others came to recognize this, then perhaps we would see great interest in participating in yoga retreats, not just in golf outings.

 

Networking and making connections is an important part of my job, but don’t look for me on the golf course. Instead, you will find me sitting on my yoga mat breathing, stretching and connecting with my fellow yogis. Why not join us and help make it a movement!   

 

Molly Tami, 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:  business  Chasing the Last Wave  connections  equality  feminism  feminist  gender  golf  LCB  legal profession  networking  women  yoga 

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