President's Message - JUNE
WLALA President 2015-2016
There are people who come into our life and change it for the better. People whose mere presence makes us better, more. They guide us, inspire us, and provide us with growth opportunities. Their influence in our lives is immeasurable. They are our role models and mentors. Given their significance, this year WLALA has featured monthly newsletter stories about the importance of mentoring and being mentored.
In my life, I have been fortunate to have several people who took an interest in my professional and personal development. The first was Bob Black, a partner at the law firm where I started my career. Bob was patient and gave of his time freely. In retrospect, I basically lived in his office, going over my cases. He never once complained or hurried me out of his office. He taught me most of what I know about the practice of law and to this day I repeat his words of wisdom to younger attorneys. My personal favorite is “assume everything you write will become an exhibit.” Bob never made me feel bad about how many questions I asked or how much of his time I took up. He constantly gave me “stretch” opportunities. Many of my professional firsts were under his tutelage – my first mediation, first motion for summary judgement, first trial, and my first appellate brief. And when Bob retired while we had an appeal pending before the First District, it was Bob who convinced the client to let me – a fourth year attorney – argue an appeal worth millions. Bob’s support did not stop when he retired. He continued to offer personal and professional advice until his passing in 2011.
Another person who has played a key role in my development as a person and a lawyer is Judge Holly Fujie. It was Judge Fujie, then just Holly Fujie, who answered my email 12 years ago when I was looking to be paired with a more “experienced” WLALA attorney as part of our mentoring program. At the time, she chaired the WLALA mentoring committee. She immediately offered to be my mentor and we had lunch within a week. For the last 12 years, she has routinely offered her wisdom, humor, support and guidance on subjects as varied as introducing a maternity leave policy at my former firm, strategizing to become partner at two different firms (once while I was pregnant), joining the WLALA Board of Governors, applying for a WLALA leadership position, and balancing work and family with minimal strife. When I find myself in a situation that requires more tact than I naturally possess, I ask myself – “what would Holly do?” To this day, she is a source of inspiration.
In short, without people like Bob Black and Judge Holly Fujie, I would not have achieved the level of success that I have. They pointed out opportunities, helped give me the tools to accomplish my goals and gave me a healthy shove in the right direction. Every month, WLALA offers its members an opportunity to mentor and be mentored through our monthly mentoring circle. This month’s mentoring circle will be held on Wednesday, June 15th at 6:30 p.m., downtown at California Pizza Kitchen, 330 S. Hope St., in the Wells Fargo Center downtown. I encourage you go. Do for a younger attorney what Bob and Judge Fujie did for me. WLALA will also hold another Power Lunch Program on June 13th at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Finally, I am thrilled to say, on June 10th Judge Fujie is receiving the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award from the California Women Lawyers. The reception will be held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, starting at 5:00 p.m.