Have you been in this situation? Surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of fellow supporters for a cause dear to your heart, inspiration sweeps over you to speak out more often or contribute more time or resources. This happened to me in November 2014. Over a thousand supporters of LGBT workplace equality and I sat around tables in a packed auditorium to support the cause of Out and Equal Workplace Advocates. After a riveting speech by a fortune 500 CEO, the auctioneer took the stage with a rainbow striped Kitchen Aid mixer which was up for auction. I expected the mixer to auction for a few hundred dollars or somewhere a little over the market value, but the supporters were not to be outbid in their enthusiasm for the underlying cause.
“ONE thousand dollar bid, now TWO thousand dollar bid, now two, will ya give me TWO thousand, THREE thousand dollar bid, now THREE,” the auction chant rang through the packed auditorium. Her voice still echoes in my mind as I remember the supporters waiving their napkins in the air to bid on the mixer. The crowd cheered as the auction bid soared over three thousand dollars. I felt excited, energized, and solidarity for the cause.
Now, one month into 2015, you may be looking for excitement and focus for a cause dear to your heart, or you may want to fulfill a new year’s resolution to be actively engaged. Seeing that you’re reading this article, perhaps the issue dear to your heart, like mine, is encompassed in WLALA’s mission to promote the full participation of women lawyers and judges in the legal profession, maintain the integrity of our legal system by advocating principles of fairness and equality, improve the status of women in our society including their exercise of equal rights and reproductive choice, and actively work towards the furtherance of these goals through WLALA's committees, sections and activities. Now is the perfect time to seize the moment and actively participate in WLALA’s committees, sections, and activities.
As a co-chair of the Financial Development Committee, I welcome you to join our committee as we plan WLALApalooza for June 11, 2015 at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles. WLALApalooza is WLALA’s largest fundraising event of the year which features a silent auction, grand prize drawing and tasty hors d'oeuvres. Whatever your special talents may be, they can be utilized. We need organizers to help gather auction items, networkers to speak with potential sponsors, innovators to bring fresh ideas, artists to help create the auction booklet, and coordinators for day-of details. In the process of helping to plan the event, you will get to know new colleagues, contribute your talents toward an important event, support an organization that advances women in the legal profession, and have fun!
While I would personally be delighted for you to join the Financial Development committee, WLALA has numerous other opportunities for members to actively work with sections and committees. WLALA’s sections include business law, criminal justice, family law, litigation, and young lawyers. These sections host many career-enhancing events throughout the year and can greatly benefit from WLALA members contributing new ideas, helping to plan, or soliciting speakers or sponsors for the events. WLALA’s committees speak to many skill sets and interests, and the opportunities for involvement are countless.
Are you interested in judicial office? Join the appointive office committee where you will periodically be part of the process by interviewing potential judicial candidates and recommending a rating for board vote.
Are you interested in mentoring others or learning from a mentor? The career mentoring committee meets once every other month for a lawyer mentoring circle downtown or on the westside. Lawyers are also needed for the law student mentoring committee.
Do you want to learn more about what makes an excellent lawyer? The awards & recognition committee works to promote recognition of attorneys and judges by evaluating and nominating qualified candidates for the various awards given each year by bar associations and legal publications. You can help solicit for and write nominations. Further, the scholarship and public interest grant committees interview candidates and make recommendations to the Board.
Do you want to volunteer with non-profit liaison organizations such as Bet Tzedek, Downtown Women’s Center, Food for the Bar, Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, Power Lunch Program and the Multi-Cultural Bar Alliance? You can get involved with any of the above, with even more opportunities available. When I first joined WLALA, I reviewed all the committees, sections, and liaisons at www.wlala.org and emailed the chairs of activities that interested me to offer my assistance. I encourage you to do the same today. Of course, if your time does not allow for joining a committee or section, you can also support WLALA by attending events or contributing to WLALApalooza, the Annual Campaign, or Food for the Bar.
Just as I felt excitement and energy toward a cause while listening to the auction chant with supporters waiving napkins to bid on a Kitchen Aid last November, I believe you will find career and personal fulfillment by attending WLALApalooza and joining WLALA’s sections and committees.
Sarah Schuh Quist, Wisconsin 2007, is a committee member on WLALA’s Financial Development Committee and a federal government attorney in Los Angeles, California, where she practices civil, tort, and corrections law.