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August 2015 - President's Message
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President's Message - APRIL

Jennifer Romano
WLALA President 2014-2015

As my year as President of WLALA comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the tireless work of many of our members in pursuing WLALA’s mission to promote the full participation of women lawyers and judges, maintain the integrity of our legal system by advocating principles of fairness and equality, and improve the status of women in our society.  This is a lofty mission, requiring long term commitment, and we can be proud of what was accomplished by the legal community and WLALA this year. 

Last month’s ruling by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges was a huge win for women and families, fairness and equality, and the integrity of our legal system.  The Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution’s grant of equal dignity includes the legal right to marry a same sex partner.  It is thrilling to see the highest Court in in our country recognize this critical principle of fairness.  WLALA played just a small role in this victory – by joining in an amicus brief filed by several other bar associations and nonprofit associations.  I am proud that our organization was able to be a part of this victory.

WLALA also has pursued its mission this year by organizing and presenting several substantive programs for lawyers in Los Angeles.  Just a few examples include our Litigator’s Forum focused on privacy and data protection, which featured a keynote by Ashlie Beringer of Facebook, and a panel with notable experts in the field including Joanne McNabb from the Office of the California Attorney General.  We held a workshop on identifying and managing bullying opposing counsel, and we held training sessions on navigating a path toward partnership and using “grit” to succeed and grow as an attorney.  Through our various programs, our members learn about the practice of law and what it takes to fully participate and succeed as an attorney.

This year, WLALA’s Foundation helped inspire a new generation of women attorneys as well.  In the Spring, the Foundation awarded a public interest grant to Molly Frandsen, who recently finished her first year at my alma mater, Berkeley Law School.  Molly worked this summer with the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center and created a short video about girls’ rights under Title IX and AB 2404, the Fair Play in Community Sports Act.  Molly’s video is an impressive piece of work and we look forward to showing it to our members in the near future.  Also, in July of this year, the WLALA Foundation awarded two law students, Patrice Victoria Korpus and Jindan-Karena Kaur Mann, with scholarship money to help with their law school education.  Patrice, a third year student at Loyola Law School, plans to focus on indigent juvenile criminal defense after graduation from law school.  Jindan-Karena , a third year at USC Law School, plans to continue her human rights work.

Finally, WLALA organized and sponsored countless events and opportunities for our members to meet, network, learn and support each other as we aim to grow and develop in this challenging profession, while advocating for the principles of fairness and equality in our community.  We tried something new this year – a rainmaker’s roundtable for WLALA members only, who meet every other month in Century City to discuss business development strategies.  It is an exciting new effort, since business development plays a significant role in success for those in private practice.

I want to thank the many people who have made this year a success.  First of all, thank you to Kay Burt, our executive administrator, Lindsey Audette, our administrative assistant, and Kelly Audette, who filled in while Kay was on maternity leave.  Our administrative staff is essential for us to operate.  Also, thank you to the impressive Executive Committee and Board for 2014-2015, who planned the events and programs and helped guide this organization through its important decisions and strategic planning.  And, thank you to all of the law firms and legal services companies and others who hosted our events, sponsored them, and permitted their attorneys to take a little bit of time out of work to serve our organization.  A special thank you to the law firms of Sidley and Irell & Manella, which hosted our monthly Board meetings.

It has been an honor to serve as the leader of WLALA.  WLALA and its mission are near and dear to my heart, and I plan to stay an active member for many years to come.