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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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Moving Forward

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Friday, May 15, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2020

Completing our daily obligations can be difficult during these trying times.  By now, you probably have tried many techniques to cope with the stress and anxiety caused by the “new normal” and the seemingly unending uncertainty.  This week, I was reminded that sometimes the best technique to cope and move forward is to look for inspiration from others.  As you continue to tackle your responsibilities and find time to support our mission, I provide the following inspirational quote.  “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, for as long as you can.”  -- Former U.S. Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton.


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


Tags:  COVID  inspiration  mission  responsiblities  stress  uncertainty 

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Cabin Fever

Posted By Elvira Cortez: A President’s Perspective, Thursday, April 16, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

At this point, I am sure that many of you are starting to feel the effects of cabin fever.  There are several ways you can ease the tension of being constrained at home, which include maintaining a routine, staying physically and mentally active, and connecting with others.  Seriously, take some time away from the news and your work to walk outside in the fresh air and in the sun.  You will be surprised how effective this can be to combat the dreariness of being indoors.  

While you can accomplish the first two tasks on your own, connecting with others, by definition, cannot.  That is where our organization can be of assistance.  Lawyers Club continues to work on ensuring that we provide our members with the opportunities to connect with others.  Our committees continue to provide excellent programming via an online platform.  For example this week, the Diverse Women’s Committee featured Nadia Bermudez, a shareholder at Klinedinst PC, who discussed tips on how to have a successful legal career; the Trial Advocacy Committee featured Jonah Toleno, a partner at Shustak Reynolds & Partners, P.C., who discussed the similarities and differences between trials and arbitration; and the LGBTQ Committee in conjunction with Tom Homann LGBT Law Association presented an MCLE on the Supreme Court Equality Updates including The Masterpiece Cakeshop case.  So please, continue to participate in our valuable and interesting programming.  I guarantee that not only will it be beneficial to your professional growth but it will brighten up your day and help you continue to work hard at home.    


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


Tags:  connections  networking  online  stress  updates  working from home  working mom 

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Turn on the Light

Posted By Guest Blogger Julie Lopez, Thursday, January 24, 2019

One in four of us experience a mental illness. We are three times more likely to suffer from depression, and have one of the highest suicide rates of all professions. If we are female, we are twice as likely to get depressed as our male counterparts. We are lawyers, and we take the required MCLE for competency. We learn that mental illness and substance abuse run rampant among us; but, we never talk about the real problem—the fact that shame and stigma often deter us from seeking treatment.

We hide the fact that we are struggling, which only prolongs our struggle. I was one of these attorneys, suffering through anxiety and depression in silence, too ashamed to seek help or even admit to myself that I was struggling. After I recovered, I saw that nothing stood in the way of my recovery but shame and fear. I share my experience here, and at the Life & Law Committee’s February 5, 2019, MCLE on competency, in an effort to bring this common struggle into the light.

I had always been an anxious person. My anxiety ratcheted up in law school, and it -skyrocketed after my son was born when I was a fifth-year attorney. Trying to balance new motherhood as a litigator felt impossible, and the self-imposed pressure to be perfect in multiple arenas was crushing. I was in a car crash shortly after returning to work from maternity leave, and my anxiety worsened. I was afraid to drive, and I couldn’t work on an auto case without having a panic attack. I did all of the things you’re supposed to do to feel better—I went to therapy, exercised every day, learned to meditate, practiced yoga, ate well, and even (gasp!) took a month off of work. But nothing helped, and I eventually spiraled down into depression.

I had never been depressed before, and it is truly a tortured despair that I would not wish on my worst enemy. I felt like checking myself into a psychiatric hospital would have been a welcomed relief, and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t “work” my way out of it. Despite my efforts for more than a year, I just wasn’t getting better, so I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with depression and anxiety disorder. I was terrified to take medication for a mental illness, but I also had to figure out a way to get better. The doctor prescribed antidepressant, and I—terrified of what it meant, but desperate for improvement—took it. And then, amazingly, I got better, and I got better pretty fast.

Looking back, I see that nothing stood in the way of my recovery but shame, and that shame robbed me of a year of my life. Shame told me that it was my fault I couldn’t “work” my way out of being depressed and get better with meditation/yoga/therapy/ exercise or whatever else you’re “supposed” to be able to do to feel better. Once I started sharing what I’d been through, I found that a LOT of other attorneys (and people in general, for that matter) struggle with all kinds of mental illnesses, and lots of other attorneys take medication to manage it.


Like any monster in the darkness, it isn’t scary once you turn on the light. I realized that the stigma and shame of mental illness would evaporate if everyone just stopped hiding their own struggles. And really, why do we hide it in the first place? We don’t wait a year to go to the doctor if we have a broken leg because we fear what others will think, hoping that it magically will heal if we just exercise/meditate/go to therapy/do yoga. We go to the doctor, get a cast put on, limp around for a few weeks, and then we are fine. But, if we walk around on a broken leg for a year because we fear that getting treatment for it threatens our careers, or is shameful—like we do with mental illness—that broken leg is going to start hurting pretty bad, and it will take a lot longer to heal. I think it’s time we start treating mental illness like we treat a broken leg.

Julie Lopez is co-chair of Lawyers Club’s Life & Law Committee, and partner at Tatro & Lopez, LLP, a litigation firm representing nonprofit organizations and business, and individuals who've been injured by elder abuse, medical malpractice, and auto collisions.


Editor’s Note: The February 5, 2019, MCLE referenced in this post, (regarding competence and mental wellness), has been POSTPONED but will take place as part of a Lawyers Club Life & Law Committee meeting. For more information and to rsvp, please contact


Tags:  anxiety  competency  depression  MCLE  mental illness  mental wellness  psychiatry  stress  treatment 

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