The opinions expressed in entries in the LC Blog are those of the author, not of Lawyers Club of San Diego.
February marks the beginning of Black History Month, which provides an opportunity to create awareness of some of the inequalities that black women face in the workforce. For example, black women earn only 65% of the wages earned by men and they will not achieve pay equity until August 13, 2020. In addition, black associates in the legal profession have been declining every year since 2009, and women of color are more likely to leave the practice of law than other women. This data serves as a reminder of the importance for Lawyers Club to advocate for improving the outcomes for women of color in the legal field.
Black History Month is also a time to recognize the achievements of local trailblazers. As president of Lawyers Club, I am proud to recognize some of our members who have been trailblazers and helped pave the way for other women of color to follow. Hon. Elizabeth Riggs was the first black female judge in San Diego; Regina Petty, partner at Fisher Phillips, was the first black woman to be elected president of the San Diego County Bar Association elected in 1994; and Beatrice Kemp was the first black woman to be elected president of Lawyers Club in 1979.
I am also honored that this years’ annual dinner speaker will be former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who has served as an inspiration to us all. Abrams is the first black female major party gubernatorial nominee and a strident advocate for voting rights. As we celebrate Black History Month, we must continue to advocate for the advancement of all women.
-Article first published in LC Weekly, February 20, 2020
Elvira Cortez practices business and commercial litigation and employment defense at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and is the 2019-2020 president of Lawyers Club.