Member Groups

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

May 2009, vol. 14, no. 4

Chair’s Column

The Women and the Law Committee celebrated National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day with a special luncheon on March 6th. Over 50 women attorneys joined together to hear Lawyers’ Assistance Program (“LAP”) speakers Janet Piper Voss, Executive Director, and Susan Riegler, Clinical Director, address “Having It All and Giving Back: Special Challenges Faced By Women Attorneys.” Their comments were insightful, interesting and at often times funny in discussing how times have changed for women over the years and how “having it all” means doing so much more today. Our thanks and appreciation to Janet and Susan for sharing their time with us and making our time together even more meaningful. Our very special thanks to Sharon Eiseman, Office of the Illinois Attorney General, for chairing this special celebration.

A Powerful Noise Live: In honor of International Women’s Day, a new movement has been initiated calling on everyone to help make a difference in the lives of women and girls worldwide. A Powerful Noise Live was developed to ignite the women’s empowerment movement by generating national awareness and encouraging women in the United States to help empower poor and impoverished women around the world. According to A Powerful Noise Live:

Women and girls are the most impoverished, discriminated-against group in the world. Consider the following:

• Of the 1 billion people living in absolute poverty around the globe, 60 percent are women and girls.

• Women log two-thirds of the world’s working hours, yet earn only 10 percent of the income.

• Women produce half the world’s food, yet own only 1 percent of its land.

• Women make up two-thirds of the estimated 876 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write; and girls make up two-thirds of 77 million children not attending school.

• Every minute of every day an expectant mother dies from mostly preventable causes.

• At least one out of every three women and girls will be severely beaten in her lifetime.

Because the majority of the world’s poor are women and girls, the success of this women’s empowerment movement is vital to achieving the UN Millennium Development goal of halving poverty by 2015. As discussed during our March 6th luncheon, please consider learning more about this movement and how you may contribute to this positive effort. Learn more about A Powerful Noise Live at <>.

VOCA Funds Update: ISBA’s Jim Covington has developed a communication to Senator Richard Durbin to raise awareness about the impact in Illinois of reduced Victims of Crime Act (“VOCA”) funding. As I mentioned in my prior column, this funding crisis was so identified by the Women and the Law Committee and brought to the attention of the ISBA. VOCA is funded with fines paid by offenders convicted of violating federal laws. This funding supports direct services to crime victims including support to domestic violence shelters, child advocacy centers, rape-crisis centers, elder-abuse services and support of prosecutors and law enforcement. Unfortunately, this funding has been reduced from $15.4M to $11.7M. We hope continuing to raise awareness of this important issue, support from the ISBA and personal outreach during the upcoming ABA legislature day in Washington, D.C. will have a positive impact on restoring these much needed funds to FY 06 levels. Thanks again to the Committee and particularly Lori Levin, Executive Director, Illinois Criminal Justice Authority for their efforts to restore these funds.

University of Illinois Women Law Students Outreach: The Committee has finalized its plans to visit the University of Illinois School of Law on April 23rd. The Committee will be joining in to support and participate in the University of Illinois’ Women’s Law Society symposium “Promoting a Healthy Work Place.” We will host a panel discussion titled “Women Can Have Careers and Enjoy Them Too!” Our panel members will discuss how women can survive long term in the profession, find their own work-life balance and enjoy their careers in law. Our panel discussion will include:

1. Lynn Grayson -- large law firms;

2. Sharon Eiseman -- state government;

3. Nikki Carrion -- small law firms/general practice;

4. Annemarie Kill -- starting your own practice;

5. Sandy Blake -- public interest law; and,

6. Melissa Olivero -- federal government work, social issues and volunteer work.

The Committee will spend time with the women law students following the panel discussion. We look forward to joining in the day’s activities and events including a special “Peer’s Pub” reception from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. the same day. We are pleased to have the opportunity to support this special Women’s Law Society symposium and look forward to our day in Champaign at the University of Illinois.

The Committee also will have a business meeting the following day on April 24th at 9:30 a.m. You are welcome to join us for this meeting.

A very special thanks to Stephanie Nathanson, Fiedler & Nathanson Ltd., for chairing our University of Illinois outreach, developing the panel discussion and organizing our efforts at the University of Illinois.

Since this is the last edition of the newsletter during my term, I want to thank everyone on the Committee for their hard work, support and overall good cheer in making the 2008-2009 term another successful year for the Women and the Law Committee. A personal thanks to ISBA Past Presidents Cheryl Niro and Irene Bahr for encouraging me to get even more involved with the ISBA which led, in part, to my time with this wonderful committee.

The women attorneys on this Committee are simply amazing -- bright, talented, energetic, caring and supportive. My continued best to each of you. The Committee will progress even further next term under the able leadership of Annemarie Kill, Avery, Camerlingo & Kill and Sandra Crawford, Offices of Sandra Crawford.

As always, we appreciate the tireless support and assistance the Committee enjoys from the ISBA’s Janet Sosin.

It has been my sincere pleasure and privilege to chair the ISBA Women and the Law Committee.


E. Lynn Grayson is Chair of the ISBA Women and the Law Committee for 2008-2009. She is a partner at Jenner & Block in Chicago.