Awards Nominations Sought

The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations’ (NCWBA) Public Service Award and Outstanding Member Program Award are prestigious national awards recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of women’s bar associations from across the country.  The Awards are meant to inspire other women’s bar associations to emulate them and initiate successful programs in their own regions.

Initiated in 1985, the NCWBA Public Service Award is given to bar associations to recognize a wide variety of outstanding and unique public service projects. The types of projects which have won the Public Service Award over the years have taken many different forms and have approached “public service” in a variety of different ways, such as providing pro bono legal services to women in need, training lawyers to do pro bono work, creating educational materials about legal rights and assisting children impacted by some aspect of the legal system.

Initiated in 2008, the NCWBA Outstanding Member Program Award is given to bar associations in recognition of innovative projects, programs and services to benefit their members or the bar association itself.  Like the Public Service Award projects, the types of projects which have won the Outstanding Member Program Award over the years have taken many different forms, such as programs encouraging and preparing members to pursue careers in the judiciary and public office, providing mentoring and leadership skills to members, providing members with law practice management skills and preserving the history of women lawyers in a particular state.

Nomination DeadlineThe nomination deadline is January 20, 2017. Download the form at the following link:


The Awards will be presented during the ABA Annual Meeting on August 11, 2017 in New York.

For questions or more information, contact Shiloh Theberge or Leigh-Ann Durant, NCWBA Awards Co-Chairs, E-mail:

NCWBA Urges Up or Down Vote on Judge Garland

The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations has added its voice to those asking that the US Senate Judiciary Committee move ahead expeditiously to act on the nomination of Judge Garland to the Supreme Court. The letter can be read at the link below:

NCWBA – letter to Senate Judiciary Comm. re Judge Garland

With the nomination by President Obama of Judge Merrick Garland on March 16 to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, it is now left to the Senate Judiciary Committee to convene  hearings on his qualifications and give him an up-or-down vote. It was made clear, even before the nomination of Judge Garland, by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others that no action on the nomination is planned. The partisan nature of the inaction has caused many state and local bar associations to shy away from public discussion of the matter. Yet lawyers are uniquely qualified to understand and explain the importance of separation of powers, constitutional duties and the barrier to the fair administration of justice posed by judicial vacancies. In this instance, silence can be viewed by the Senate and the public as consent by the legal community to the Senate’s inaction. As a women’s bar leader, what can or should you do?

As individuals, you can write to your own Senators, urging them to support an up-or-down vote on the nomination. Here is an e-mail form created by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). Or you may wish to pattern your letter after the template provided hereby the NWLC.
If you want to consider taking action as a bar group, here is background information about federal judicial vacancies from the American Bar Association. Here’s a fact sheet from the NWLC on why women’s rights are affected by the Supreme Court vacancy. For a detailed explanation by the Congressional Research Service of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s role in the Supreme Court appointment process, click here.
Here’s a sample op-ed piece provided by the NWLC you might tailor to fit a local newspaper.
Here are some examples of letters and press releases from bar organizations:
Queen’s Bench Bar Association was a signatory on a letter from numerous California local and specialty bar associations.
To echo the words of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “We need somebody now to do the job. Let’s get on with it.”


Supreme Court Decides for Full Marriage Equality

States can no longer discriminate based on sex and sexual orientation

June 26, 2015

(Washington, DC)  Today, the Supreme Court made history by declaring same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. With a 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and consolidated cases, marriage equality is now the law of the land: Same-sex couples can be married and have their marriages recognized in every state.  This decision, which ensures that men and women will no longer be barred from marriage based on damaging gender stereotypes, is a victory for all Americans.

The following is a statement from Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center: 

“The National Women’s Law Center joins all champions of equality in celebrating today’s historic decision. The Supreme Court has clearly stated that regardless of your gender or the gender of your partner, you have a fundamental right to marry the person you love, and that right cannot depend on your zip code. This tremendous achievement marks a new day for same-sex couples and their families, who will finally be granted the recognition and dignity that is their due no matter where they live.  This is a major victory—but our efforts are far from over.  Strengthened by this triumph, we must now work to ensure fair treatment for LGBT individuals and families at work, at school, in housing, and elsewhere.  It is time to embrace true and universal equality.”



Contact: Melanie Boyer, or 202-588-5180

             Mia Jacobs, or 202-588-5180


Tragedy in Charleston–A Letter from President Willis of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association

June 19, 2015

Dear SCWLA members and friends,

This is a personal letter to the women lawyers of South Carolina, and to women lawyers everywhere.

The senseless massacre in Charleston this week has stunned, and saddened, all of us.  Many of our members knew the people, good people, who were gunned down in what is being called, I fear correctly, a “hate crime.”  I knew Reverend Pinckney myself.

As lawyers, this event calls us to rise up as defenders of equality, to stand up as protectors of liberty, and to speak up as crusaders against hatred.  In a profound way, this unspeakable tragedy summons us to be our very best selves.  So today, the women lawyers of South Carolina say to all involved, “We will not tolerate this conduct — not here, not now, not ever.”

But, my friends, long before we ever opened a book to read the rule of law, there was another book written on our hearts.  It is the book that teaches us, in this transitory life, to love our neighbors as ourselves.  And it is this rule, above all others, that will carry us through this valley of the shadow.

In closing, I urge you to keep your hearts open.  The survivors of this tragedy, the members of the historic church where the unthinkable happened, are setting this example for all of us.  I, for one, am humbled by their forgiveness and strengthened by their faith.

With best personal wishes,

Marguerite Willis



Minnesota Women Lawyers Releases Gender Data Report

At the May 2015 MWL Conference for Women in the Law, Minnesota Women Lawyers was pleased to release its “Gender Data Project: First Report.”  This report is the result of a multi-year initiative led by MWL’s Parity Committee, which commissioned a first-of-its-kind count of the number of women in the Minnesota legal profession by conducting a name classification analysis of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s lawyer registration data.

In addressing gender inequities in the legal profession and working to change them, MWL was discouraged by the lack of demographic data related to women in Minnesota’s legal profession.  This obstacle moved to the forefront in 2010 when then-MWL President Judge Elizabeth Cutter initiated the MWL Parity Taskforce to examine the current position of women lawyers in Minnesota.  The Parity Taskforce quickly determined that a thorough examination of the status of Minnesota’s women lawyers could not be accomplished without comprehensive demographic data.  To that end, MWL set out to determine the best means for attaining such data.

In presenting this report, MWL’s Gender Data Project: First Report offers, for the first time, a bottom-line number of women attorneys registered in Minnesota.  The report also highlights the background, methodology, limitations and results of the research study.  The complete First Report and a brief highlight video are available on Minnesota Women Lawyer’s website (

MWL recognizes that its Gender Data Project is an important step in the effort to clarify the status of women in Minnesota’s legal profession.  Additionally, MWL advocates for the collection of further demographic data on the Minnesota attorney registration form, including sexual orientation, and disability.  The Minnesota Lawyer Registration Office is in a unique position to collect and provide the most comprehensive data on the status of all attorneys registered in Minnesota.  Should additional demographic data become available, future research will provide an important opportunity to examine the current demographic position of Minnesota attorneys, and identify trends towards parity for all women lawyers, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identification. 

Minnesota Women Lawyers is an association of nearly 1,300 attorneys, judges, law students, legal employers, and others who are dedicated to advancing the success of women attorneys and striving for a just society.   Visit our website at

Tennessee Chief Justice Sharon Lee Speaks Out on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession

Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee challenged the legal profession to set the standard for all professions and make gender equality a top priority.

Chief Justice Lee’s remarks were made at the East Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women (ETLAW) annual Supreme Court luncheon. Attended by the Supreme Court justices; local trial, appellate, and magistrate judges; local attorneys; law professors; and students, the event is an annual opportunity for members of the bench and bar to get to know both the Supreme Court justices and ETLAW.

In her speech, Chief Justice Lee cited statistics from the July 2014 American Bar Association publication, A Current Glance at Women in the Law. She noted that although women make up 47% of law students and 45% of private practice associates, only 17% of equity partners are women. Most concerning, she said, is that female attorneys make only 79% of what their male counterparts pull in. There is even an 11% pay gap between female and male equity partners in the nation’s 200 largest firms.

Chief Justice Lee said she was proud to lead a state Supreme Court that has a female majority, but pointed out that it has been less than three decades since the first woman, Martha Craig Daughtrey, joined the Tennessee Supreme Court. Of the 101 Tennessee Supreme Court justices throughout the state’s history, only six have been women. Chief Justice Lee drove her point home by noting that three of those six were in attendance at the luncheon.

Thus, Lee stated that although women are attending law school at a near equal rate, there is a “leaky pipeline” in the profession that often leads to a lack of female representation in top leadership positions.

“This must be our mission: to close the gap within our profession and to be a model so that we may better effect change in society as a whole. Disparity in opportunity and professional advancement does not benefit anyone, and it harms everyone,” said Lee. “Change has to come from all corners of our profession: from employers, local bar associations and organizations, colleagues and spouses, and yes, from women ourselves.”

Chief Justice Lee applauded the successes women have achieved and praised change leaders in the industry, such as law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, noting that their policies are good first steps on the path to supporting employee family life. Lee also expressed hope that bar associations will increase their outreach to women attorneys, especially women of color, law students, and other underrepresented groups. She also implored all professional organizations to begin an honest dialogue about pay disparities and working conditions.

Finally, Chief Justice Lee encouraged women to support each other, to get involved in professional organizations and not to be afraid to fail. She used her story of persevering after failure as an example of learning how to lose gracefully and to benefit from that process. She also emphasized the duty to others and to the community.

“You have to give back. None of us is here thanks to our work alone. We are here as professional women because others have come before us, and we must acknowledge and celebrate that,” she said.

Lee emphasized mentorship, stating, “We must reach up to receive and accept advice from women and men who have more experience and wisdom than we do, and we must reach down and bring the next generation with us. We must create opportunities and spaces for young professionals to grow and give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible—just as someone once gave us that same benefit.”

She concluded with a call to action to begin taking these steps towards change.

 ABOUT ETLAW: ETLAW is a professional legal organization comprised of female attorneys who seek personal and professional development and share a desire to advance women in the legal profession and in society as a whole. The organization was founded in 1983 by a group of pioneering women who sought to organize and connect female attorneys in the East Tennessee area. Today, there are ETLAW members spanning a wide variety of legal practice areas, including the judiciary. There are many benefits of being an ETLAW member, including professional development, continuing legal education, and networking.

National Women’s Law Center Applauds Senate Confirmation of Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General

April 23, 2015

(Washington, D.C.)  Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) applauds the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Loretta Lynch to be the Attorney General of the United States. She is the first African American woman to serve as the nation’s foremost law enforcement officer. The following is a statement by NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger: “Today, the Senate made history by confirming Loretta Lynch to be U.S. Attorney General, marking the first time an African American woman has ever held the position. By any measure, Ms. Lynch is exceptionally qualified to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. She has repeatedly demonstrated that she is dedicated to public service and the rule of law, and that she has the legal expertise and sound judgment to serve the nation in this critically important role. “The confirmation of this extraordinary individual is long overdue. Now that the unseemly and unnecessary delays have come to an end, Ms. Lynch can finally begin to address the many important issues that await her at the Department of Justice. The National Women’s Law Center is confident that she will serve as a role model and inspiration for women and girls around the country.”

GABWA Members Confirmed as US District Court Judges

Congratulations to Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys members Leslie Abrams and Judge Eleanor Ross who were confirmed unanimously  this week by the US Senate to become the first African-American women on the federal district court bench in Georgia. To read more, click here.




TV Show “Bad Judge” Cancelled after Bad Ratings and Protest by Miami-Dade FAWL



Miami-Dade Chapter of Florida Association for Women Lawyers Objects to “Bad Judge” TV Show

The Miami-Dade Chapter of Florida Association for Women Lawyers has written to NBC protesting the TV show “Bad Judge,” which features a female judge who exhibits crude and unethical behavior. Click below to download the letter:


In the words of Bunny Cunningham of Jezebel, “It’s likely that Bad Judge is not long for this world, with terrible ratings and worse reviews, but the fact that a seriously un-funny show with questionable moral takeaway has even made it all the way to episode 4 is frankly, pretty mind-blowing.”