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12:15 AM to 11:45 PM EDT
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery are only the latest in a long history of unnecessary and violent deaths of Black Americans, each of which demonstrates that systemic racism is a present and persistent feature of American society. In addition to outright violence, we have seen the ease with which white women too often exacerbate and exploit systemic racism, including most recently the Central Park birdwatching incident.
The Women’s Bar Association of DC (“WBA”) demands that local, state, and federal agencies conduct prompt and thorough investigations into these and other policing practices. More broadly, and more importantly, the WBA condemns racist and white supremacist ideologies that permeate our society, as evidenced by systemic, unchecked police brutality and the legal structures that allow it to continue.
The WBA calls on our members and the legal community to rise to this moment, and advocate for justice and human rights for all Americans – regardless of their skin color. Our community must use its time, skills, privileges, connections, and money to effectuate real change as part of the effort to dismantle systemic racism.
This will not be easy, and will not be quickly accomplished, but we must do the work. The WBA will develop a resource page for its members and the broader community, and we encourage our members to self-educate about racist and white supremacist ideologies in America and the ways in which Black Americans need allies to support the dismantling of systemic racism. We will create spaces for these challenging conversations. We will educate our members and community regarding the actionable, concrete steps we must take to dismantle systemic racism and effectuate real change.
The WBA supports and commends those who have taken to the streets of their communities to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble in protest against these deaths and the larger systemic issues that allowed these deaths to take place. We denounce the unnecessarily brutal responses of uniformed law enforcement officers toward protestors and the press, and condemn any acts that unjustly abridge First Amendment rights.
We know the legal profession is not immune to the impacts of – and is often complicit in supporting – systemic racism. If it were immune, the numbers of women and men lawyers of color holding leadership and high-profile roles in the legal profession would more accurately reflect our legal community and population.
It is not enough for us to be allies and non-racist, this moment demands that we be actively anti-racist.
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
Woman Lawyer of the Year Announced
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.
WBA Statement on Independent Judiciary, February 14, 2020
With women making up just one-third of the federal judiciary, the WBA was proud to honor the women of the District of Columbia federal courts in September 2019 for our annual Stars of the Bar reception, including Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Judge Jackson has served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with distinction and integrity. As the WBA has previously stated, “[i]t is critically important that the legal profession articulate its support for a strong, independent, and diverse judiciary . . . . For our democratic system to continue to flourish, respect for each branch of government is crucial.” We reiterate that support here and call on the legal profession and the American public to do the same.
Jeannie Rhee is the 2020 WBA Woman Lawyer of the Year. Ms. Rhee is a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. The award will be presented at the organization’s Annual Dinner on May 20, 2020, in Washington, DC. Click here for more information about Ms. Rhee. Click here for Annual Dinner tickets and sponsorship.
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 email@example.com.
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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