Member Groups

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

October 2013, vol. 51, no. 2

A view from the Chair

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

As this year continues on the theme above, I am thrilled to report that the special Gender Equity Subcommittee met with Paula on September 30th to begin planning a two-hour CLE with Angela and the CLE Subcommittee. It will be based upon the ABA Gender Equity Toolkit and related materials and will focus on female attorneys in small to mid-sized firms in Illinois. Stephanie Scharf joined us to lend her wisdom and experience. Stephanie was one of the presenters at the August 22nd “30 Female Blackstones” program. She addressed the issue of the advancement of women in law practice, utilizing research from the National Association of Women Lawyers Foundation and her personal views on the challenges, successes, and future of women practicing law today. Doesn’t “Because We’re Worth It,” sound like a great title for this CLE? We hope to be able to present this CLE on May 1st.

The CLE Subcommittee continues to prepare for the CLE on bullying. “Bullying: What It Is, Where It Is and What Your Clients Can Do About It” will be presented on February 21, 2014. It will be a basic to intermediate level course designed for general practitioners and entry level attorneys in child law, tort law, education law, employment, and civil litigation. We received a tremendous response from several committees and section councils whom we asked to co-sponsor this half-day program. Be sure to mark your calendar and attend. It’s so very important for our members to participate in the programs we sponsor—and bullying is a topic that touches all of our lives, no matter what area of law we practice.

So far, the Catalyst is batting 1,000. I want to thank all of our August 2013 contributing authors for your great articles. I know the rest of you are just fine-tuning and editing your articles for upcoming issues! Speaking of writing articles, Sandy Blake and I have volunteered to help Lynn Grayson co-edit the Diversity Leadership Council’s (DLC) 2014 newsletter and we would love your articles! In case you are unfamiliar with the DLC, it is comprised of members of the following committees/section councils: WATL, Racial & Ethnic Minorities and the Law, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, Disability Law, Human Rights, International Law & Immigration, and the Diversity Pipeline Program. The DLC’s mission is to foster communication among these groups and to help coordinate the ISBA’s diversity outreach efforts by organizing projects such as the Diversity Leadership Institute and annual Diversity Leadership Award. The DLC newsletter is one such project. It is published once a year, usually for the ISBA Annual Meeting. Any and all articles relating to diversity in law and the profession are needed and welcome! Keep in mind that any article written for the DLC newsletter can also be submitted to the Catalyst.

The planning continues for our March 21, 2014 networking event at the NIU College of Law in De Kalb. Rachel Morse from Jenner & Block has agreed to present her Myra Bradwell “one woman show” and several judges and justices will participate in a panel discussion following, with a reception after that. This event will be co-hosted by the Racial & Ethnic Minorities and the Law. Both committees will hold their March business meetings the next morning. We are seeking attorneys and firms to sponsor this evening, so please let me or any other members of the Outreach Subcommittee know if you have an attorney or firm in mind that would like to have their names listed on our special “Thank You” board that will be displayed.

Much thanks to all of the new IBF Fellows. Let’s meet our goal of 100% fellows from the WATL by the mid-year meeting in December!

And don’t forget to “rise up and reach back”—help empower one woman or one girl each day in any way you can! ■


Mary F. Petruchius is a solo general practitioner in Sycamore, Illinois. She is the 2013-14 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. Mary can be reached at and her Web site is .