Deputy Public Defender at the Office of the Primary Public Defender
Yahairah Aristy has been a Deputy Public Defender in the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office since 2005. Yahairah handles a wide array of adult felony cases ranging from murder to theft. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University. Yahairah is an alumna of The Campaign School at Yale University. In 2017, Yahairah was elected to serve on the Lawyers Club of San Diego board of directors. In 2019-2020 she served as the Vice President of the Community Relations section. Previously Yahairah served as the Affiliate Governor for the board of directors for the California Women Lawyer organization, and previously co-chaired the Diverse Women, Membership Development and Law Student Outreach committees. Yahairah serves as the Immediate Past President for the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation. Previously she served as the 2019 president, vice president, secretary, chair of the 2018 Annual Gala, and co-chair of the 2017 Annual Gala. Yahairah serves as treasurer for transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project. Yahairah was a founding member of the revival of the National Women Political Caucus – San Diego Chapter and served as vice president and chair for Political Action Committee. In her free time Yahairah enjoys spending time with her nieces, nephew, and her white fluffy angel dog, Toby, quilting, hiking, and reading.
Vice President - Policy & Membership Section
Employee Rights Attorney at Ahrens Law, APC
Kimberly Ahrens is an employee rights attorney at Ahrens Law, APC where she devotes her legal career to fighting workplace injustices. She has advocated for employees deprived of their right to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment for over thirteen years and proudly represents people who suffer unfair treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, gender, age, religion, disability, and other characteristics protected by state and federal law. She also represents employees who suffer wage theft and are victims of wage and law violations.
Kimberly is a past co-chair of the Lawyers Club LGBT Committee, a committee she helped form in 2017 to acknowledge and address the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary people continue to face in the legal profession and in society. Outside of Lawyers Club, Kimberly is a member of the San Diego County Bar Association and former co-president of the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association.
Vice President - Professional Development Section
Partner at Higgs Fletcher & Mack, LLP
Maggie's practice focuses on commercial litigation and business bankruptcy, with special emphasis on complex business restructuring, liquidation, and creditors’ rights. She represents individual business owners, their companies, investors and creditors under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 11, as well as in bankruptcy litigation. She also has experience representing clients in complex business disputes involving preference and fraudulent transfers, breach of contract, fraud, intentional business torts, and real estate.
Vice President - Finance & Fundraising Section
Co-Owner at San Diego Family Mediation Center
Amanda Singer is the co-owner and professional family mediator of San Diego Family Mediation Center and California Family Mediation Center Orange County where she works with couples going through divorce and other family conflicts who want to be able to stay out of court, keep their costs down and not hate each other at the of the process. Amanda is a graduate of Brandeis University, Chapman University School of Law and Pepperdine University School of Law Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. She was recently selected as a 2020 Super Lawyers Rising Star. Amanda is also Vice President of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators. Previously, Amanda co-chaired the Annual Dinner and Networking Events, the Red White and Brew fundraiser event and the Law Firm Outreach Committee.
Vice President – Community Relations Section
Principal at Meyers Nave
Arlene Yang is a Principal at Meyers Nave, where she specializes in employment litigation and counseling for companies and business litigation. Currently, she is Lawyers Club’s Vice President of Community Relations. She previously co-chaired the Diverse Women’s Committee, the Annual Dinner Committee, and the Professional Advancement Committee. Outside of Lawyers Club, Arlene is co-chair of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association's Labor and Employment Committee, and a past-president of the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego. Arlene has extensive experience counseling and advising non-profit organizations and serves as president of the board of directors of transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project. Arlene is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University School of Law.
Founder and Shareholder of Chawla Law Group, APC
Vaani Chawla is the founder and shareholder of Chawla Law Group, APC, an immigration law firm committed to working with business clients and families. Since 1994, she has represented corporations and families in a wide range of immigration matters including petitions for high tech and biotech professionals, multinational executives, outstanding researchers, individuals with extraordinary abilities, and national interest waivers. Chawla also works on family-based matters including good-faith waivers for divorced couples or battered spouses. The daughter of immigrants, Chawla feels a direct kinship with immigrant families. She has been a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) since 1995. She volunteered for many years with the California Western School of Law’s Community Law Project, and she participated in legislative advocacy efforts in Washington D.C. to preserve the rights of immigrants. She has been involved with South Asian community organizations in San Diego, including The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), and was a member of the board of the Sikh Foundation San Diego. From 2016 to 2018, Chawla served on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of San Diego (SABA SD). As president of SABA SD in 2019, Chawla led an endeavor to educate San Diegans about hate crimes and discrimination targeting South Asian Sikh Americans. She joined Lawyers Club in 2015 and immediately became actively involved in the Diverse Women’s Committee. She serves as co-chair of the Advocacy and Reproductive Justice Committee, and from 2017 to 2019, she served as co-chair of the Equality & Action Committee [Gender Equity].
Deborah (Debbie) Cumba
Deputy Attorney at State of California - Department of Transportation
Debbie Cumba is co-chair of the Trial Advocacy Committee. She is a deputy attorney with the State of California, Department of Transportation where she handles dangerous condition of public property, tort, and eminent domain matters, including trials and appeals. She practices in San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Imperial counties. Prior to her public service, Cumba was a civil litigator at Wilson Elser LLP specializing in product liability litigation. There, she represented manufacturers of motorcycles, personal watercraft, recreational vehicles, industrial machines, and bicycle component parts.
Outside of work, Cumba serves as a board member of Lawyers Club of San Diego, President of the William L. Todd, Jr. American Inn of Court and Vice President of the Scripps Ranch Swim and Racquet Club. Since 2014, Cumba regularly volunteers as a Temporary Judge in Small Claims Court. For three years, Cumba coached the Scripps Ranch High School Mock Trial Team where she enjoyed empowering high school students while sharing her trial skills. Cumba has also volunteered with the Girl Scouts, planning and organizing a mock trial and facilitating courtroom proceeding observations at the U.S. District Court.
A Southern California native, Cumba received her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and her J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. In her free time, Cumba enjoys the San Diego lifestyle with her husband, Mark, and their two daughters, who are already familiar with the art of cross-examination.
Shareholder at Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin
Shannon Finley is an employment attorney and experienced litigator at Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin who defends California employers against individual harassment, retaliation, defamation, and wrongful termination claims, as well as complex wage and hour class action claims. She also provides guidance to employers so that they may avoid legal trouble before it arises.
Finley is a Director of Lawyers Club of San Diego, California Women Lawyers Affiliate Governor for Lawyers Club of San Diego, and will be serving as a co-chair of the Membership Development Committee. As an individual who has benefitted personally and professionally from her involvement in Lawyers Club, currently co-chair of the Annual Dinner. Finley is passionate about the Membership Development Committee. Finley enjoys helping new members discover the benefits of Lawyers Club and helping current members maximize their memberships. Finley previously served as the co-chair of the Women’s Advocacy Committee, and Law Student Outreach Committee. She was recently honored by Lawyers Club San Diego with the C. Hugh Friedman New Lawyer Award which recognizes a member who has been a champion in advancing Lawyers Club’s mission and who has demonstrated leadership and professionalism in the San Diego legal community.
Founder at Metaclusive LLC
Tristan Higgins has been an attorney for 23 years and has launched her own consulting and speaking firm, Metaclusive LLC, to work with corporations on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prior to her most recent venture, she was with Sony Electronics for over a decade and was an international technology and entertainment lawyer. She has been active in Lawyers Club's Gender Equity Committee, the LGBTQ+ Committee, the Diverse Women's Committee, and the Bench Bar Committee. She serves on the California Lawyers Association's Diversity Outreach Committee, is a mentor for the San Diego County Bar Association Diversity Fellowship Program, and is working with the SDCBA Committee on Diversity Inclusion. She is also a mother of two teenagers, three rescue cats, and a rescue dog. Her wife is a Scottish national and the family lives in Poway.
Katherine (Kate) Lee Carey
Special Counsel at Cooley
Katherine (Kate) Lee Carey is Special Counsel with Cooley LLP’s Education Regulatory Practice Group. Kate has been practicing law since 2000, and since 2001, her practice has focused on the legal, accreditation, administrative and regulatory aspects of education institutions and companies that provide services to the education industry. She provides clients with interpretation and implementation guidance on legal and regulatory matters, including impact analysis and strategic plans to address complex regulatory requirements and compliance structures.
Prior to joining Cooley, Kate was the General Counsel and Vice President for Government Affairs at a system of healthcare colleges in California, as well as serving as VP of Compliance, and Director of Regulatory Affairs, at institutions in Arizona and Colorado, respectively. Kate regularly publishes articles and provides training on higher education topics for numerous education-focused organizations. She is a member of the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS), the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), and chair of the advisory committee for the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Katherine also serves on the Development Board of the California Innocence Project, as well as the Board of the Lawyers Club of San Diego. Kate also serves as a Co-Chair of the Professional Advancement Committee with Lawyers Club.
Kate is married with two dogs and, when not in pandemic lockdown, enjoys traveling in Italy. She also enjoys reading, jigsaw puzzles and movies, so at least lockdown has contributed to more focus on these pastimes. She has also become very adept at making scones. And stress-eating scones.
Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice
Kara Siegel joined Lawyers Club when she moved to San Diego in 2016 and became active in the Diverse Women’s and Professional Advancement Committees. She co-chaired the 2020 Red, White & Brew Committee, whose event raised significant funds for Lawyers Club programming and the Fund For Justice. Siegel previously co-chaired the Professional Advancement Committee—organizing the General Counsel Roundtable Luncheon, and coordinating programs on aligning career and priorities, promoting oneself professionally, and effective workplace communication. Siegel has sought to foster connection with the broader community and encourage increasingly diverse future generations of lawyers through regular participation in the Read-In and High School Mock Trial Competition, presenting to students on National Constitution Day, and tutoring bar examinees through Minority Legal Education Resources. Siegel is a proud feminist and often-bossy mentor, who actively recruits professionals to join, benefit from, and become leaders in Lawyers Club. She is particularly committed to addressing the challenges faced by those belonging to intersecting vulnerable populations. Siegel was a New York lawyer before returning home to litigate in California. She is a Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice.
Associate at Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP
Audrey Surridge joins the board of Lawyers Club after five years of active membership, most recently serving as co-chair of the Law Student Outreach Committee and now as co-chair for the Annual Dinner. She joined Lawyers Club as a law student and, because she was inspired by so many of Lawyers Club’s leaders, she immediately became involved. She has served on several committees such as Red, White and Brew, Trial Advocacy, and Leadership Development. Outside of Lawyers Club, she serves on the FBA Annual Conference Planning Committee and the FBA Education Committee. She also volunteers with SDVLP’s Women and Families Resource Fair. Surridge practices employment law at Wilson Turner Kosmo. Her practice focuses on representing employers in a variety of employment disputes and advising businesses of all sizes, which allows her to stay current on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Prior to her career as an attorney, she was on the marketing team for a global consulting firm serving the full spectrum of business, financial, medical, union, education, and nonprofit organizations. In her spare time, she enjoys everything San Diego has to offer—from its beautiful beaches to its food scene to the firepit in her own backyard. Surridge looks forward to helping Lawyers Club advance equality in every form through her service on the Board of Directors.
Human Resources Generalist at UC San Diego
Sara Waller previously represented both employees and employers in employment and wage hour litigation, and is now a Human Resources Generalist for the University of California, San Diego. She received her B.S. from UCSD, and her J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law. Sara has been involved in the Lawyers Club since law school and most recently served as Treasurer and co-chair of the Bylaws and Policy committee. She has also been actively involved on the Red, White, and Brew committee; the Workplace Equity & Civility Initiative; and served as a Co-Chair for the Equality and Action Committee [Gender Equity]. In her spare time, Sara loves to cook and spend time with her young daughter, husband, and their two dogs.
Owner at Law & Mediation Office of Julie O. Wolff
Julie O. Wolff is a Certified Child Welfare Law Specialist who serves as an attorney, mediator, and owner of the Law & Mediation Office of Julie O. Wolff. Ms. Wolff holds an LL.M. in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University School of Law’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. Ms. Wolff’s legal practice focuses primarily on child welfare/juvenile dependency, dispute resolution, and family law. Ms. Wolff also serves on the San Diego County Court’s Family Law panel for appointment as Minor’s Counsel.
Ms. Wolff received her J.D. from California Western School of Law, along with High Honors in two concentrations (Trial Practice and Preventive Problem Solving). Following graduation, Ms. Wolff clerked for the Honorable Judge Leon Aberasturi at the Third Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada, before jumping into juvenile law, first as a parent’s attorney in Sacramento, then as a minor’s attorney in San Diego. In the summer of 2016, Ms. Wolff started her own practice focusing on Juvenile Dependency, Dispute Resolution, and Family Law.
Due to her passionate interests in public service and human rights, Ms. Wolff served as a Co-Chair of the LGBT Committee, serves as a co-chair of the Law Student Outreach Committee, and is on the Lawyer’s Club Executive Board. Ms. Wolff is currently the Chair of the Family Law Section of the San Diego County Bar Association. Ms. Wolff is also a member of the Tom Homann Law Association and the National Association of Council for Children.