Member Groups

The Catalyst
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law

March 2009, vol. 14, no. 3

Chair’s Column

Peggy Klaus, one of my favorite professional development speakers and authors, recently was quoted in a New York Times article as saying that “… how women treat one another at work might be the last obstacle to their success.” The article, appearing January 11, 2009, was titled “A Sisterhood of Work Place Infighting” and generally addressed the phenomenon wherein women are less supportive and treat one another more harshly than they do their male counterparts. Ms. Klaus notes that while women have come a long way in removing workplace barriers, the advancement and promotion opportunities women should and can provide one another remain a significant challenge. In a recent survey conducted of office behaviors (such as verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority and destroying of relationships) by the Workplace Bullying Institute, it was found that female bullies aim at other women more than 70 percent of the time.

While I have seen this general topic addressed in the past, it always makes me sad to hear from others that women attorneys are not as supportive of one another as could be the case. I have been very fortunate to receive the support and mentoring of many exceptional women attorneys and without their influence, both active and passive, I probably would not be a practicing attorney today. This is another important role that a women’s bar association or committee can provide—a supportive environment where all are eager to help you succeed—professionally and personally. This is certainly the case for the ISBA Women and the Law Committee and we invite you again to join us for any of our meetings or events. Please consider reading this article which is available at <> but know that supportive women attorneys do exist and are as close to you as the members of this committee.

Committee Achievements—Special Thanks

Thanks to the leadership of our own Lori Levin, the ISBA’s Board of Governors unanimously agreed in January to adopt this Committee’s resolution to seek Congressional support to address the Victims of Crime Act (“VOCA”) funding crisis. VOCA is funded with fines paid by offenders convicted of violating federal laws and supports direct services to victims of crime. Despite huge balances in the account, the funding of necessary victim services by VOCA grants has been cut nationally by $87M, including significant impacts to Illinois grantees. Lori, Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the state administrating agency for the VOCA funds, made the Committee aware of how this funding shortfall would impact domestic violence shelters, child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, elder abuse services and other prosecutor/law enforcement programs. Through Lori’s efforts and those of many on this Committee, this important issue was brought to the attention of the ISBA’s Jim Covington and later, the Board.

We will continue to monitor this issue and hope that Congressional support will allow for the restoration of this funding to much needed, critical victims assistance programs. Thanks, Lori!

Also, the Committee was very proud to serve as the lead sponsor of the ISBA’s Mid Year program titled “Ethically and Effectively Representing Clients With Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems.” The Committee’s efforts were led by the program co-chairs, Amie Simpson, Will County Legal Assistance Program and Nikki Carrion, Thomas Mottaz and Eastman. It was a great program focused on an important issue often confronted by lawyers—what do you need to do if your client or another attorney is adversely impacted by drug or alcohol abuse? The program featured an overview of these issues, a view from the bench, discussion of possible ethical situations and a presentation about the services available from the Lawyers’ Assistance Program. A special thanks to Amie and Nikki for pulling this program together as well as our Committee’s Vice-Chair, Annemarie Kill, Avery, Camerlingo & Kill, and Secretary, Sandra Crawford, Offices of Sandra Crawford, for their continuing support in the development of this program, too.

Future Events/Meetings

The Committee will be hosting a luncheon celebration in recognition of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 6, 2009, along with a regular business meeting. Also, on Thursday, April 23, 2009, we will be visiting the University of Illinois and hosting a luncheon panel discussion on women in the law and hosting an evening reception for women law students and attorneys and judges from the area. A regular business meeting will follow on Friday, April 24th. Lastly, we will co-sponsor a reception with the ISBA Minority and Women Participation Committee at St. Louis School of Law in the March/April time frame. Please consider joining us for any of these events or meetings.

If you have any questions about this Committee’s work or would like to get more involved with the ISBA, please feel free to contact any member of this Committee.


E. Lynn Grayson is the 2008-2009 Chair of the ISBA Woman and the Law Committee and a Partner at Jenner & Block in Chicago.