Our 2018 Women’s Bar Leadership Summit was held in Chicago on Thursday, August 2, and Friday, August 3.
The morning began with the swearing-in of the 2018-2019 National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations’ officers and board members by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis.
Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former Chief of Staff and one of the lawyers spearheading the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, kicked off the Summit with a focus on the Time’s Up initiative. This initiative has brought an energy and momentum to gender issues that have been around for decades if not centuries. But now is the time for real change, and we’ll learn how women’s bar associations and bar leaders can capitalize on this energy to help spark a “change reaction.”
Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of Law Practice Management & Technology at the Chicago Bar Association, shared her tips on free or low-cost technology that can make our lives easier.
Our Awards Luncheon was held at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, a Chicago classic. At the luncheon we honored the recipients of our 2018 Public Service Award and Outstanding Member Service Award. The 2018 recipient of the Public Service Award is Florida Association for Women Lawyers for their Nursing Rooms in Courthouses. Receiving an honorable mention in the same category is New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association for their Women to Women Project. The 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Member Program Award is Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women for their Empowerment Conference. Bexar County Women’s Bar Association and Foundation is the recipient of an honorable mention in that same category for their LEAD Academy.
Our luncheon keynote speaker was Fatima Goss Graves, who has spent her career fighting to advance opportunities for women and girls. She is President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and has a distinguished track record working across a broad set of issues central to women’s lives, including income security, health and reproductive rights, education access, and workplace fairness. Her most recent efforts relate to the MeToo Movement. Ms. Goss Graves, along with last year’s Summit keynote speaker Robbie Kaplan, as well as this year’s Margaret Brent Award winner and morning keynote speaker Tina Tchen, partnered with the women in Hollywood who were determined to find a way to show solidarity with survivors of sexual harassment, assault, abuse and retaliation in all industries, especially low-income women and people of cover. Last October, the NWLC launced the Legal Network for Gender Equity, which connects individuals experiencing sexual harassment or sex discrimination with attorneys willing to take on these types of cases. The attorneys’ efforts are supported by the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which the NWLC administers and which was seeded by the generosity of Hollywood producers and actresses, but has gained broad support and donations from many leaders in the film and television industry as well from thousands of donors from across the country.
The Summit was closed with a very special “Oprah-style” conversation with four phenomenal women leaders. Patricia Jarzobski moderated a discussion with Christina Blacklaws, Sandra Yamate, and Paula Holderman about the gender equity imbalance at the top of almost every sector of the legal profession and your role as bar leaders to help address it.
The Summit was kicked off on Thursday, August 2 at Chicago-Kent College of Law with a GOOD Guys program, a reception featuring the authors of the ABA book, Her Story: Lessons in Success from Lawyers Who Live It, and a showing of the film Dream, Girl. To view a video of the GOOD Guys program, click here.