Member Groups

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

August 2013, vol. 19, no. 1

A view from the Chair

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

—Madeleine Albright, Keynote speech at Celebrating Inspiration luncheon with the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, 2006


From the moment I knew I was going to be appointed the 2013-14 Chair of the Standing Committee on Women and the Law (WATL), I knew the quote above would be the “theme” for my year as Chair. I believe that the WATL is going to have a great year! I want to take this opportunity to welcome all new Committee members and welcome back those of you who were re-appointed.

At press time for this newsletter, our first event of the year as a committee is going to be our participation in the August 22nd program and reception, “30 Female Blackstones Gather in Chicago.” This occasion honors the thirty women lawyers from across the country who gathered in Chicago in August of 1893 for the first-ever national meeting of women lawyers. The Queen Isabella Association sponsored the meeting, which was held in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition. Our own ISBA President, Paula Holderman, along with Julie A Bauer, the 7th Circuit Bar Association President, will host the two-part program and panels, entitled, “From 1893 to 2013: Celebrating Our Accomplishments” and “2013 and Beyond: Building on Our Accomplishments.” The program will be followed by a reception for all attendees. What a great opportunity to hear and meet such special women as the Honorable Ann Williams, Diane Wood, and Illinois Supreme Court Justice, Rita Garman, to name just three! I’m confident that one of our committee members will write a fabulous article for the next Catalyst about this incredible event!

At our annual meeting in June, Paula addressed the WATL members and set forth her plan and initiatives for the upcoming year. She wants to concentrate on the challenges facing new lawyers and diversity within the ISBA and our profession. She asked the WATL to review the ABA’s Gender Equity Toolkit and ask: 1. How we can apply the toolkit to the small and mid-sized firms in the state?; and 2. How can we make a difference in Illinois for our state’s women lawyers? To that end, I asked that we form a special subcommittee to take on this task for the year. I’m thrilled that Julie Neubauer, Emily Masalski, Kristen Prinz and I will be the members of the Gender Equity Subcommittee. It will be a lot of work but, I think, extremely rewarding.

Angela Evans and her CLE Subcommittee are currently in the planning stages of a CLE program on Bullying that will be co-sponsored by numerous committees and section councils. Bullying is an extremely timely topic and one that touches each and every one of us. Given the hugely positive responses from the other committees and section councils, I think this program will be one of the most widely attended programs in recent ISBA history. As soon as the program date is released, be sure to register. It’s so important that our members have a presence at any CLEs that this Committee sponsors. If Angela and her subcommittee aren’t too burned out from planning this CLE, many members expressed interest in a CLE update of human trafficking in Illinois…..maybe later in 2014?

I know our Catalyst co-editors are going to publish a terrific newsletter this year! Haven’t you all received e-mails bugging you to submit articles? Rest assured, these editors won’t let up until each and every one of us does our part. Any topic having anything to do with women and the law is acceptable—c’mon everyone, let’s get creative!

The WATL is going to continue its tradition of nominating members of our Committee for awards. I congratulate Melissa Olivero and the members of her subcommittee, Leadership Opportunities for and Recognition of Women, for the hard work they have done in the past and wish them good luck this year. It’s critical that we “promote our own”!

Our annual Outreach and Networking event will be on March 21, 2014 at the NIU College of Law. The WATL’s Spring Outreach program and reception is probably the best opportunity each one of us has to make contact with other women attorneys in different parts of the state, as well as to reach out to female law students to support and encourage them. Isn’t that the essence of women helping other women?

Finally, I have made it my personal commitment to the Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF) to have 100% of our Committee members become IBF Fellows. Please join with me to make this goal a reality as we work together to make 2013-14 the best year ever for this great committee! ■


Mary F. Petruchius is a solo general practitioner in Sycamore, IL. She is the 2013-2014 Chair of the Standing Committee on Women & the Law. Mary is also a member of the Diversity Leadership Council and the Child Law Section Council for 2013-2014. She is a proud Gold Fellow of the Illinois Bar Foundation. She can be reached at and her Web site is