Why Support Lawyers Club?
I was asked to write an article about why I support Lawyers Club. And more importantly, why I, as a male, support an organization with a mission statement focused on females.
Any time I’m asked about my support for LC or any similar organization, I have the same gut reaction—because this talk can go one of two ways. The first way is the expected answer: LC has an incredible mission statement, it’s well-run, with quality events, it gives platforms to important issues, and voices to the underrepresented, etc. But, that’s not where my initial reaction goes when I’m asked this.
And, I get asked – at least a few times a year, “Why are you a member of LC, isn’t that an organization for women?” That right there? That’s the reason I support LC. It’s because I’m even asked that question, and it’s the fact that I’ve even been asked to write an article like this. The reason that anyone sees an organization with a gender-focus as something that they can’t, or needn’t, or shouldn’t be a part of, is exactly why I support LC. So, I’m not going to write an article about why I support LC; instead, I’ll discuss how you can support LC.
This is what I’ve been doing over the past few years, and I hope it lights a fire in you to do the same.
Call the organization by its proper focus:
Let’s start with the LC mission statement: “To advance the status of women in the law and society.”
So, pop quiz—I’ll give you a statement, and you say if it’s right or wrong. (Yes, you are being graded on this, and yes, I am judging you based on how you answer this). Ok, the statement: “This is a female bar organization,” or “This is an organization for women.”
If you said it was wrong, then [hugs]. If not, then [facepalm]. There’s no faster way to create the wall of “Me v. You” then to identify this organization in a limited way, or “just as” something. If you’re explaining this organization to a male, you might as well say, “This is a female org, for females, run by females . . . and you’re not included, invited, or wanted.” Because even if you don’t say this, this is what the listener hears.
My advice, say what the organization is by its mission statement. Nowhere in the mission statement does it say it’s only for females. Or to be technical, it doesn’t say it’s for females per se. It says this org is here to advance women in the legal field and society. Ah, that’s some inclusive stuff right there!
Ok, now that we have a proper framing to who we are as an organization, what are some actual things you can do right this second (well, after you finish reading this article).
Get male attorneys involved:
Guess what? Many men appreciate fact that an organization would want to foster this kind of mission. But you know what, men can be a part of this support too! With leadership shoes in the legal profession still overwhelmingly being filled by a more seasoned generation of white men, one of the best approaches is inviting the exact people in power to make change.
So, my ask to you: Think of your male colleagues, reach out to them, and offer to bring them to an event. Go to the Lawyers Club website, find an event, and offer the invite.
This is what I’ve been doing in San Diego, and it’s been wonderful. Many men either feel like they are not wanted or they would just not be accepted at an organization focused on promoting women. But if you specifically invite them, bring them, and introduce them to other members, then you’re showing them they are wanted in this organization. It’s also incredibly inclusive to walk into the event with the person you invited. That can be easy as meeting them outside the event and walking in with them, but obviously you could rock-star it and walk or ride to the event with them.
Get young attorneys involved:
You know who will be still around when we’re retired? Younger people! Yes, let them carry the torch and take care of us when we’re older! Also, this needn’t be new attorneys—it can be law students too. I’d start with the law student organization presidents, because they’re the most likely to keep community service going after law school.
Get judges or other high-ranking legal professionals involved:
Simply put, this will help the fire spread. People notice when someone high up the food chain walks into the room. Especially if they’ve never been there before. Once you’ve brought this person in, ask them for suggestions of who else you could invite to join you next time. Keep that momentum going!
Bring one person, or a few?
Here’s food for thought: Now that you’re going to take action right after you finish this article, do you want to bring just one person, or do you want to bring several? My thought is to bring one. It’s way more intimate and special to know that you specifically reached out to only them. Plus, it’s easier to introduce one person to other attendees instead of a group. But, if you want to bring a group of people and can pull it off, then go for it!
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” said Gandhi, and so say I! Now that you’ve read my feelings on this, you can do one of two things: you can just take it in and maybe think it was a nice sentiment, or you can act on it. My hope is that you take action and reach out to some people, contacts both old and new, and invite them to join you. Offer to bring them to an event, and ask them to share this message with their spheres of influence. Actually, while writing this article I took a break and did the same thing myself by reaching out to a male colleague to invite him to a LC signature event: Red, White, and Brew (coming up on March 1, 2018). (And, if I’m patting myself on the back, last week I invited a female colleague who is also a newer lawyer to a LC luncheon). I’d love to hear if you do the same!
Guest blogger Eric Ganci is a DUI trial lawyer by day, and a face-melting live-band karaoke drummer by night.