2013-14 has been a busy year for the Standing Committee on Women and the Law (WATL).
The August 22, 2013 program and reception, “30 Female Blackstones Gather in Chicago,” was a huge success. This occasion honored the 30 women lawyers from across the country who congregated in Chicago in August of 1893 for the first-ever national meeting of women lawyers. It was inspiring to hear the panelists’ stories of their personal journeys, complete with struggles and accomplishments.
At our annual meeting in June, Paula Holderman addressed the WATL members and set forth her plan and initiatives for the upcoming year. She asked the WATL to review the ABA’s Gender Equity Toolkit to determine how we can apply it specifically to Illinois’ and small to mid-sized firms. We formed a special Gender Equity Subcommittee to accomplish that goal. I am pleased to announce that on May 08, 2014, Paula and the WATL are presenting “Because You’re Worth It! Achieving Excellent Compensation & Advancement in the Legal Profession.” This program is the result of countless hours of dedicated hard work by this great subcommittee, whose members include Veronica Felton Armouti, Julie Neubauer, Emily Masalski, and Kristen Prinz.
The WATL was a proud co-sponsor of the wildly successful event at the Midyear Meeting at the Sheraton, “Count Me In.” The DLC invited members from diverse bar associations across the state to be our guests to meet and network with one another over cocktails and delicious appetizers. The DLC hopes this will become an annual affair at the Midyear.
Angela Evans and the WATL CLE Subcommittee presented “Bullying: Latest Trends, Developments and Legal Remedies” in February, along with several other committees and section councils. Angela is currently working with Yolaine Dauphin to present an updated CLE on human trafficking that will be offered in the next year.
The WATL is continuing its tradition of producing award winners. Melissa Olivero is to receive the Northern Illinois University’s Outstanding Alumni Award for the College of Law. Julie Neubauer, Emily Masalski and I will be attending the awards dinner to pay tribute to Melissa on April 25. Tracy Douglas will receive the ISBA Young Lawyer of the Year for Downstate Illinois Award at the ISBA Awards Luncheon on June 20. This Committee will be in attendance to honor her, of course. The Committee has nominated several other individuals for numerous awards that have not yet been determined.
March 21, 2014 is a day that will live on in many WATL Committee members’ memories for years to come. Our annual spring outreach program, entitled “Myra Bradwell: The Practice of Law in the Wake of Her Legacy,” was held at the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Rachel Morse from Jenner and Block presented a dramatic rendition of Myra Bradwell’s struggle to be admitted to the Illinois bar. Using excerpts of actual court records and other historical documents and in period costume, Rachel brought Myra Bradwell to life. A discussion followed including this distinguished list of panelists: the Honorable Anne Burke, Joy Cunningham, Rita Garman, Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, Susan Hutchinson, Mary Jane Theis, and Diane Wood. Jennifer Gust from Hinshaw and Culbertson rounded off the panel as youngest and non-judge member. If anyone questioned what the phrase, “Rise Up and Reach Back” meant before that day, there was certainly no doubt in one’s mind after seeing and listening to these magnificent women! After the program, attendees enjoyed a reception celebrating ourselves and honoring those who went before us!
Thanks to our great editors, the WATL newsletter, The Catalyst, continues to be published every other month featuring consistently outstanding articles by our member-authors. ■