President's Message -NOVEMBER
Amy T. Brantly
WLALA President 2017-2018
This month we honor and celebrate the life of WLALA Board member and ardent supporter, Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell. I hope that you will take a moment to read all of the many heartwarming and inspiring submissions that we received from her friends and colleagues, as well as her amazing biography and a summary of some of her key judicial decisions.
I first met Judge O’Connell when I joined the WLALA Board in 2010. I was a bit intimidated by her presence, only because I knew that she was a judge. In time, I came to know her as a strong mentor and advocate for women and a caring individual who was extremely generous with her time. One of the last times that I spoke with Judge O’Connell, she told me about an oral argument in her courtroom where all of lawyers arguing before her were male and were assisted by women lawyers. She told me that she asked the women to address the Court in order to give them a chance to argue. She said that they were all amazing and she was very proud of them. Her story inspired me to include remarks in my speech at the Installation Dinner about how judges can step in to give women more opportunities to argue before the Court in complex cases.
As my installation as President approached, one of the things I was most looking forward to was having Judge O’Connell swear me in. Judge O’Connell traditionally swore in the Board and the Officers and she had agreed to do so this last September. She always introduced the President with personal remarks and anecdotes and made it a truly special event. I missed her very much that night. I felt as though a cloud of sadness permeated the event because she was always a central figure in the experience and she was not there. I know that many WLALA members felt the same way and that we were all thinking of her that night and praying for a miracle.
During this month, when we give thanks for all that we have, it is fitting that we are honoring Judge O’Connell. I am thankful that I knew her. I am thankful that she contributed so much to WLALA and co-founded our Power Lunch program. And, I am thankful to her family for working with WLALA to announce the Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell Scholarship Fund. Judge O’Connell’s memory and legacy will live on and she will always be in our hearts.