ISBA Standing Committee on Women and the Law 2015 Annual Meeting Report
2014-2015 was a productive and inspiring year for the Standing Committee on Women and the Law (WATL).
On October 10, 2014, WATL co-sponsored the powerful CLE “Human Trafficking and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, which was presented by Baker & McKenzie LLP and the Illinois State Bar Association, and co-sponsored by the Illinois Judicial Council, Illinois Association of Administrative Law Judges, National Association of Women Judges District 8, Human Trafficking Task Force of the American Bar Association, Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Greater Chicago, In., Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women, Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, Cook County Bar Association, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, National Bar Association Region VII, Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, ISBA Administrative Law Section, ISBA Child Law Section, ISBA Human Rights Section, ISBA International & Immigration Law Section, ISBA Standing Committee on Government Lawyers, ISBA Standing Committee on Racial Minorities & the Law. As a result of the multiple sponsors, the CLE was presented free of charge and offered 7 hours of MCLE credit. The program was so popular that the seminar reached capacity and had a wait list for those still wishing to attend. This CLE is available on the ISBA website in various formats, including streaming, podcast, CD-ROM, Audio CD, and DVD.
On February 7, 2015, WATL committee members volunteered their time for a service day at New Moms, Inc. Members put some elbow grease into cleaning up and preparing apartments to prepare for incoming tenants, who are young homeless mothers and their children.
On April 18, 2015, WATL committee members traveled to Springfield for a meeting and hosted a cocktail reception for women lawyers at The Inn at 835. The reception was a great success and included the ISBA presidential candidates stopping by to mix and mingle with women from the various bar associations surrounding the Springfield area over cocktails and a delicious spread of appetizers.
On May 7, 2015, the WATL presented the CLE “Because You’re Worth It! Achieving Advancement & Fair Compensation in the Legal Profession” and networking reception, which was co-sponsored by the ISBA Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law, the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics, and the ISBA Young Lawyers Division. The CLE presented a study conducted by the ISBA to determine whether Illinois’ small and mid-sized firms experience similar gender equity and compensation trends that larger firms experience on a national level. This program is the result of many hours of dedication and hard work of our Gender Equity Subcommittee, whose members include Veronica Felton Armouti, Julie Neubauer, Emily Masalski, and Kristen Prinz.
Throughout the year, the WATL committee members considered and commented on various pieces of legislation that could affect women, including proposed changes to Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, the Income Withholding for Support Act, the Equal Pay Act of 2003, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, the proposed creation of Creates the Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act and more.
At our annual meeting on June 19, our 2014-2015 Chair, Emily Masalski, set forth her plan and initiatives for the upcoming year. Emily has been an outstanding member of the WATL Committee since 2008. In 2011, Emily was named as one of the ISBA Young Lawyers of the Year. Emily campaigned to get SB0344 “Lactation Accommodation in Airports” introduced into the legislature and passed through both houses. The bill is now on Governor Rauner’s desk for signature. One of Emily’s main focuses for this year is to have the ISBA stand in full support of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the Illinois Legislature.
Female ISBA members continue to shine and win awards for their commitment and service to the profession and their communities. Ruth Ann Schmitt won the Board of Governors Award. Mary Meg McCarthy won the Elmer Gertz Award for Human Rights. Linda Zazove won the Joseph R. Bartylak Memorial Legal Services. Kathryn A. Kelly won the Roz Kaplan Government Service Award. Sonny Choi won the Diversity Leadership Award. Abigail Leinsdorf won the Law Student Division Public Service Award. And Julie Ann Sebastian won the Austin Fleming Newsletter Editor Award. The WATL committee congratulates these women for their achievements.
On Saturday, July 18, the WATL committee will continue its commitment to giving back to the community when the members will participate in the Women Everywhere Agency Service Day. Committee members will be partnering up with attorneys from ClarkHill to do some gardening at Teen Living’s transitional living program.
The WATL newsletter, The Catalyst, continues to be published every other month featuring consistently outstanding articles by our member-authors. ■