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.