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NOVEMBER 2012 NEWSLETTER - Brown Bag Lunch
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WLALA Members Participate in "It's Never Too Late!!" Brown Bag Lunch 

 By Hon. Sandra Klein, June Klein and Jan Zari



On September 21, 2012, I moderated a Brown Bag Lunch (Lunch) at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court called “It Is Never Too Late.”  The guest speakers were WLALA member and my mother, June Klein, and Jan Zari, a Bankruptcy Court Operations Support Clerk.  Approximately 50 members of the Bankruptcy Court family attended the Lunch. 

I began by introducing my mother, June Klein, who graduated from high school in 1952 and recently attended her 60th high school reunion.  In her 60s, June enrolled in classes at Harvard Extension School, which provides students—typically working adults—an opportunity to pursue degrees in a number of fields.  June received her Associate’s Degree in 1998, her Bachelor’s Degree in 2002, and her Master’s Degree in 2011, all from Harvard.    

I then introduced Jan Zari and noted that the day of the Lunch was his third anniversary with the Bankruptcy Court.  Jan recently completed a certificate in Judicial Administration from Michigan State University (MSU) and he is currently attending the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and studying for a certificate in Paralegal Studies, which he expects to receive in January 2013. 

During the discussion, June mentioned that she could not afford to go to college right after high school graduation.  She recalled that when she graduated from high school “women were not encouraged to go to college.”  In fact, she noted that those women who were lucky enough to go to college typically went into the “female” professions and became teachers, nurses or secretaries.  She stated that there were very few women doctors, lawyers or other professionals her age. 

June mentioned that after working for 30 years with her husband, David, in their pharmacy, and raising three children, Susan, a doctor, me and Joseph, a commodities broker, David decided that it was time to retire.  And, June was suddenly out of a job.  She held a number of different jobs but felt “adrift.”  She stated that she started taking classes and they helped to give her focus and confidence.  June mentioned that she wrote her Master’s thesis on former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (SDO) and the impact that SDO had on women’s issues.  According to June, “many people thought that since SDO was the first female Supreme Court Justice, she would lend a female point of view to the previously all male Court.”  June mentioned that based on her research, SDO was neutral when making decisions and judged each case based on the law and not based on gender.  

June had the opportunity to meet SDO at “The Women at the United States Supreme Court” event (SDO Event) in February 2012 that was co-sponsored by WLALA.   In her home, June proudly displays pictures of SDO at the SDO Event and June handing SDO a copy of her thesis, which she describes as “one of the highlights of my life.”  June wishes to again express her thanks and gratitude to WLALA for hosting the SDO Event. 

During the lunch, Jan mentioned that when he started with the Bankruptcy Court he had no idea what the Court did and how it worked.  So, he was thrilled to have the opportunity to study for his Judicial Administration certificate and learn more about the organization and various functions of our Court system.  Jan noted that he “squeezed in time to study during lunch and after work on weekdays and on weekends,” and that good time management was essential. 

I mentioned that I also had not taken a traditional path to obtaining a degree.  After I graduated from college, with a degree in Music Education, I worked for seven years at AT&T and NYNEX (which is a company similar to Pac Bell).  I had a great job, but was bored and was looking for a challenge.  So, at 29, I applied to Loyola Law School and moved out to Southern California to pursue my legal career—I clerked for two federal judges, was in private practice and was with the U.S. Department of Justice at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Trustee Program.  I always wanted to get a Masters in Business Administration so in 2007, at the age of 47, Judge Klein enrolled in UCLA’s Executive MBA program, and attended classes on alternating weekends for two years, while working full-time for the U.S. Department of Justice. 

June, Jan and I each stated that there were times when it was difficult to continue with our studies.  June mentioned that even though she was not working while attending Harvard, she sympathized with her classmates many of whom had “full-time jobs and families and she did not know how they did it.”  June admitted that she was a procrastinator and that she had “pulled a few all nighters” writing papers and studying for exams.  She even recounted finding excuses not to study, such as “going shopping, sharpening pencils or even gilding a mirror.”    

I recall working and going to school full time as “challenging” and recall getting up at 4:00 a.m. to study before work, working all day, and then coming home and studying until 11:00 p.m. at night. 

Each of us persevered and said it changed our lives.  Jan noted that a “person might lose their job and go through tough times but education is something that can never be taken away from you.”   He is a perfect example of that; Jan is in the process of applying to Master’s Degree programs.  June Klein stated that “she loves to learn” and she encouraged everyone who is interested in going back to school to “just do it.”  I stated that even though studying for my MBA was grueling, I would definitely do it again because it gave me a tremendous amount of confidence and taught me how to analyze issues in different ways.  At the conclusion of the Lunch, we encouraged everyone to pursue their dreams, whatever those dreams may be.

Hon. Sandra Klein is the WLALA Board of Governors’ Federal Court Liaison and a Federal Bankruptcy Judge.