The WBA Stands with Judge Esther Salas

The WBA extends its deepest sympathy to federal Judge Esther Salas, her husband, her family, her colleagues, the city of Newark, and the township of North Brunswick, and to the judiciary.

On July 19, 2020, a self-proclaimed “men’s rights” and “anti-feminist” lawyer attacked Judge Salas and her family, and by the time that unspeakable attack ended, Judge Salas’s only son was dead and her husband critically injured. The gunman – a lawyer who took an oath to uphold the rule of law – broke that oath in the most vile way possible. 

This horrific act is part of larger growing cultural phenomenon in which “disagreement” is used to mask discrimination, bigotry, and lack of respect for human dignity, and which too easily devolves into violent verbal or physical attacks. While this was unquestionably an attack on Judge Salas personally – as a woman, as a Latina, a jurist, and a human being – it also was an attack on the rule of law and on gender and racial diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary. 

The WBA condemns outright the attack on Judge Salas’s family and any violence targeting members of the judiciary.  And, in the midst of our condemnation, we are heartbroken and grieve with Judge Salas.

The WBA’s mission to maintain the honor and integrity of the profession requires acting, amplifying, and speaking up on behalf of others, especially when it is uncomfortable. We cannot hope to move forward on critical issues of gender and racial equity if we do not identify and actively work to dismantle toxic misogyny and racism that – as the attack on Judge Salas and her family evidences – can and too often does lead directly to violence.  We must address these kinds of toxicity and take threats of violence seriously.  We cannot be complacent. After all, each of us must be responsible not only for ourselves but also meet the moral obligation to look out for each other’s well-being and safety.

 The WBA’s Discussing Racism & Being Anti-Racist Toolkit  
 
 On June 5, 2020, the Women’s Bar Association of DC issued a statement entitled The WBA Condemns Systemic Racism: A Call to Action (the “Statement”). As outlined in the Statement, the WBA believes that actively doing the work of being anti-racist demands becoming educated and engaged, paying attention, and taking action. To that end, and as promised in the Statement, the WBA is pleased to release its resource page for WBA members and the broader community. 

The WBA’s Discussing Racism & Being Anti-Racist Toolkit (the “Toolkit”) can be found here. The Toolkit is a comprehensive (although not exhaustive) collection of resources currently available. It offers a range of written materials, opportunities, and tools for readers to learn about race and systemic racism in the U.S. and how to become and be anti-racist, in support of the WBA’s call for members and the community to begin the work of dismantling systemic racism.

When available, the WBA has provided source links. The WBA encourages readers to borrow books from a local library or to purchase from a local Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC)-owned independent bookseller. 

The WBA will update the Toolkit periodica
lly, and plans to use it as a springboard for internal and external-facing programming. The WBA encourages readers to share the Toolkit widely throughout the WBA membership and broader community.


Welcome WBA Members, Allies, and Friends!
 
What an honor to be serving as WBA President for the 2020-21 Bar year. Thank you for entrusting me with the stewardship of this important and historic organization.
 
These are extraordinary and trying times, and the WBA is committed to being an active and valuable resource for our own members and our larger community. As we grapple with the effects of this global pandemic and continue to see the real and terrible consequences of systemic racism in our society, we cannot be complacent even as we largely remain out of public spaces. 
 
In service to this goal, the theme for the 2020-21 Bar year is The Importance of Allies and Friends. The WBA’s programming will prioritize this theme in the following ways.
 
Being Better Allies. Especially during these challenging times, we must become better allies. The WBA will host programs and listening sessions focused on the obligations white, heterosexual, and/or cisgender lawyers have to support others. As lawyers and professionals, we have significant privileges, power, and skills that we can and must use to advance the interests of marginalized individuals and communities.
 
Encouraging and Educating Allies. Consider this a personal invitation to our male allies, who support us in our careers and regularly attend our celebrations and substantive programming: join us! Become WBA members. Please share with your colleagues, clients, and network that you believe in advancing the interests of women lawyers. Broadcast that you are an ally. The WBA will be developing programming focused on how we can help allies like you be better allies - to us, and to the rest of the community.
 
Celebrating and Growing Friendships. During our annual celebration (held virtually on May 20, 2020), we heard a portion of an oral history previously recorded by our late past president Pat Gurne. She commented then, as she often did, that lifelong friendships are built here. Encouraging a spirit of friendship is actually part of our mission statement. Particularly while we remain physically distanced, the WBA will look for ways to nurture and honor our friendships. 
 
WBA membership is not limited to women, nor is it limited to licensed, practicing attorneys. If you are part of the legal community, support our mission, and want to be part of our efforts during this Bar year, please join us!  Most of our events are open to non-members, and we encourage you to participate. 
 
Let’s get to work.
 

News and Highlights

Now Accepting Nominations for Woman Lawyer of the Year
The Woman Lawyer of the Year Award is given annually by the WBA at its Annual Dinner, held in May. The award recognizes a woman for her exceptional achievements in the legal profession and/or for her extraordinary contributions to the advancement of women in the profession.

The theme for the 2020-2021 Bar Year is “The Importance of Allies and Friends.” This Bar Year, we are focusing on: 1) Being Better Allies, 2) Encouraging and Educating Allies, and 3) Celebrating and Growing Friendships. The WBA is looking for nominees who embody the theme of tireless commitment to advancing women lawyers in the profession and engaging with allies to do so. Nominations are due September 25, 2020. Click here for the nomination form.

Video Available: Where are the Black Women Lawyers in Leadership Positions?
We are pleased to make the video from our July 16 presentation Where are the Black Women Lawyers in Leadership Positions? available for viewing.


Our panelists candidly and thoughtfully discussed this lack of diversity and provided their thoughts regarding actions that can be taken to effect real change.

We extend our thanks to the Greater Washington Area Chapter, Women Lawyers Division, National Bar Association (GWAC) for co-presenting this program with us, as well as to our esteemed panelists: Hon. Anita Josey-Herring, Chief Judge, DC Superior Court; Hope Goins, Staff Director, House Committee on Homeland Security; Fatima Goss-Graves, President & CEO, National Women's Law Center; Sylvia F. James, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Winston & Strawn LLP; Sandra Shaw, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Privacy Officer, BridgeStreet Global Hospitality (ended June 2020); prior in-house positions include Microsoft and AT&T; Yolanda Hawkins-Bautista, WBA Past President & Associate General Counsel, Freddie Mac (facilitator).

WBA Anniversary Event
The video and presentations from our May 20, 2020 are available for viewing.
A guide to the content:
Welcome Remarks, WBA President, Jill Dash: 0:00
Remarks, Sen. Kamala Harris (CA): 8:14
Remarks, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY): 8:58
State of the Association, WBA President, Jill Dash: 12:12
State of the Foundation, WBAF President, Bridget Bailey Lipscomb: 18:05
Keynote; Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor and Legal Correspondent, Slate; author of the forthcoming Lady Justice: 24:09
Tribute to WBA & WBAF Past President Patricia Gurne: 39:00
Recognition of Incoming Board/Incoming President: 44:09
Incoming President Remarks, Sadina Montani: 47:09

Click here for the year-in-review photos shown prior to the Anniversary Event.

All-In for Women
The WBA is recognizing law firms with 100% WBA membership among their female lawyers. The WBA is committed to advancing the interests of women lawyers, and we applaud law firms that share this commitment and demonstrate it by encouraging WBA membership. This month, we thank Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch, P.C. and KaiserDillon PLLC for being All-In for Women! If your firm (or office or practice group, in the case of a larger firm) is interested in being All-In for Women, please contact the WBA Membership Committee at membershipcomm@wbadc.org.
 
Volunteer Opportunities
Get Involved with our Committees and Forums and maximize your WBA membership. Applications for those interested in serving as a co-chair or on a committee are accepted on an ongoing basis. Click here for an application, or email admin@wbadc.org for more information. 
 

Our Mission

Maintaining the honor and integrity of the profession; promoting the administration of justice; advancing and protecting the interests of women lawyers; promoting their mutual improvement; and encouraging a spirit of friendship.

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