President's Message: Implicit Bias - We Must See It To Avoid It: CWL Calls for Mandatory Training on Sexual Assault for All Judges
This past June we heard about the massive public outcry created by Santa Clara Superior Court County Judge Michael Aaron Persky who sentenced Brock Turner, a fellow white male alumni of Stanford University, to 6 months in county jail after Turner was convicted of three felony counts for sexually assaulting a woman who was too intoxicated to consent or defend herself. Judge Persky attempted to justify his minimal sentence for the defendant, stating "[a] prison sentence would have a severe impact on him". See the full article. This type of bias should not be allowed in our judiciary.
In reaction, California Women Lawyers (CWL) sent an open letter to the California Judicial Council (with a copy to California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye) this month calling for mandatory training on sexual assault and domestic violence as part of its implicit bias training for all judicial officers in the State. In the letter, CWL explained that the lack of accurate knowledge about sexual assault and domestic violence not only perpetuates myths in our judicial system but also results in biased sentences such as Judge Persky's sentence. "For a judge to look at Turner, a man convicted of three felony accounts and say 'he will not be a danger to others' defies rational perception and perpetuates harmful stereotypes," according to CWL's letter written by CWL Board Member Danielle de Smeth. "Judicial canons require more."
"Our judges need to be sensitive to the fact that their words and actions silence victims as easily as they empower survivors," CWL's letter stated. "As scientific research continues to expand our understanding of bias, justice demands that those dispensing it be highly trained. As California so often does, the Judicial Council should lead the way in requiring judicial officers to be educated in the forces that perpetuate bias in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence. This training would significantly improve the administration of justice and help to repair the judiciary's relationship with the public following Mr. Turner's sentencing." A copy of the full letter can be found here.
As attorneys appreciative of an independent judiciary, CWL did not support the proposal to recall Judge Persky. Instead, as a group, CWL focused on how to rebuild public confidence in a fair and unbiased judiciary, and afford the victims of sexual assault the same considerations that defendants are apparently receiving. As of last week, CWL is glad to hear that Judge Persky has since agreed to only oversee civil cases starting in September.
Implicit bias training about sexual assault and domestic violence is a critical social justice issue not only in California but also nationwide.
In early August, for example, a different judge in Colorado decided that a University of Colorado student should not serve any time in state prison despite his conviction by a jury for rape of a "half-conscious victim." This rape followed the defendant taking the victim away from a party and telling his friends that he was going to help take care of her. After the jury convicted the defendant, the judge expressly said he struggled with putting the white male in prison and only sentenced the defendant to two years of work release in the county jail. This allows the defendant to leave the jail each day to go to school or work.
"We are disappointed to see, yet again, that the impact on the perpetrator, who chose to commit a crime against another person, is being considered over the impact on the victim, who did not have a choice in the matter," said Brie Franklin, executive director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, according to a CNN article. "What research tells us is that these incidents are not 'accidents' or 'misunderstandings,' but rather patterns of thought and behavior that will not change, and will most likely escalate, unless the individual is held accountable for their choices and actions," Franklin told CNN. A report on this case can be found here
Also this year, two Michigan high school students (ages 18 and 17), who are white, pled guilty to rape of a 15-year-old girl after giving her alcohol. These acts constitute third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan, which is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But these defendants were sentenced to one year in county jail and three years of probation. Under a Michigan law, their records will not reflect this crime if they complete the terms of their probation. See the article here.
Please read CWL's letter and contact the Judicial Council to urge a requirement for all judges to regularly receive training on implicit bias and the impact of sexual assault and domestic violence on the victims. California Women Lawyers expects the State's judiciary to be well rounded and well trained in all essential elements of their extraordinarily difficult jobs. We commend Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and the Futures Commission for researching how to achieve justice for all, and we ask that regular, rigorous, training for all of our bench officers are required. Communications to the Judicial Council can be directed to:
Judicial Council of California
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
TTY Line: 415-865-8004.
We expect the rest of the country to do the same.
No More "Honeys" in the Courtroom?
By Kate McGuinness
The American Bar Association (ABA) amended Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 (g) to classify harassment or discrimination in the practice of law as professional misconduct subject to disciplinary action, according to the ABA announcement this month. The resolution that revised Rule 8.4 specifically defines professional misconduct as "conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law."
Previously, language covering such behavor was included in a comment as guidance to the model rule but was not considered as authoritative, according to the ABA. ABA model rules, which support professional standards, serve as guides for state regulatory bodies that govern the legal profession.
Guidance about the application of the amended rule includes a definition of discrimination as "harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice toward others." The guidance makes clear that "harassment includes sexual harassment and derogatory or demeaning verbal or physical conduct.". "Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature."
The guidance also spells out the actions that are included in the phrase "conduct related to the practice of law" as "interacting with witnesses, co-workers, court personnel, lawyers and others" as well as "managing a law practice or law firm" or "participating in bar association, business or social activities in connection with the practice of law."
Santa Barbara Women Lawyers (SBWL) wrote to the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility in support of the amendment to Rule 8.4. SBWL hopes that the amended rule will bring about increased respect and civility "in conduct related to the practice of law."
For a complete copy of ABA's announcement, click here.
CWL's Signature Elect to Run Program Receives National Honor This Month
by Renee Galente
California Women Lawyers (CWL) was honored on August 5, 2016, with the National Conference of Women Bar Associations' prestigious Outstanding Member Program award for Elect to Run at their 2016 Summit in San Francisco.
Designed to educate and encourage women to run for public office, meet other women who have run for office, and get all the information they need to decide whether to run for office themselves, Elect to Run became one of CWL's signature programs in 2014. The key to this unique program is the intimate environment that it fosters and provides both speakers and attendees the opportunity to be incredibly candid about their experiences and their feelings.
The program alternates annually between Southern and Northern California to provide as much access to our members as possible. Past speakers include California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, California Controller Betty Yee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and activist Sandra Fluke, along with supporters Emerge CA, Run Women Run, and many more.
This year's program will feature Ann Ravel of the Federal Elections Commission, and State Controller Betty Yee as speakers. Held at Nixon Peabody LLP in Los Angeles on September 9, 2016, this year's Elect to Run panelists include Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara County District Attorney; Laura Friedman, Candidate for Assembly District 43 (a seat to be decided in November); Lindsay Bubar, Southern California Director of Emerge CA; Brian Ross Adams, Trusted Messenger Marketing; and Sarah Hernandez, Executive Director of Coro. Panel Moderators including: Ellie Altshuler, Nixon Peabody, LLC, Mary Hughes, Co-founder & President, Close the Gap; and Ann Ravel of the Federal Elections Commission.
This year's program will also feature a special guest: Senator Kevin de Leon, President pro Tempore, with a question and answer session focusing on "A Man's Perspective on Why We Need More Women in Office." Tickets are $10 for CWL members and $20 for non-members.
CWL is proud to have been recognized for Elect to Run. In San Francisco, CWL President Kelly Robbins, President-Elect Chris Goodman, and board members Renee Galente, who initiated Elect to Run, Dorothy Chow Proudfoot, and Prudence Hutton accepted the award at the 2016 Women's Bar Leadership Summit: Advancing Change through Innovative Collaboration.
Elect to Run is CWL's second NCWBA award. In 2010, CWL received the award for its So You Want to Be a Judge program, which seeks to help women become judges. Initiated in 2008, the NCWBA Outstanding Member Program Award is given to women's bar associations to recognize innovative projects, programs and services for their members or the bar association itself.
How Women Traverse the Intersection between Business and Law
By Andrea Ventura
After Cathleen Anderson made the switch from litigation attorney to in-house counsel, she thought she found it all: a small, new company with great colleagues and an innovative enterprise product in Silicon Valley to boot. But something was missing.
It was a network. Not your typical Internet-based network connecting computers to exchange information: Silicon Valley is littered with those. Rather, in her first year at her new job, Anderson realized that she needed a network of attorneys, a network of in-house counsel that could provide insight about the cross section of law and business and how women attorneys traverse it. "It's hard to find out who is working in house," she said in an interview with California Women Lawyers (CWL). "There is no way to seek them out."
To fill this void, CWL started the In-House Counsel Network (IHCN) and IHCN chair and CWL past president Neda Mansoorian specifically created the Puzzle Program this year to establish a forum for in-house counsel to share their insight, advice, and concerns in an intimate, candid, and confidential environment - without outside attorneys pitching their services to get their business. The Puzzle Program builds relationships among teams of in-house counsel women over a three-part series, covering sensitive issues, shared experiences, practical suggestions, and common goals. It provides members the opportunity to extend the dialogue beyond internal company discussions and to reach across industries and organizations.
Approximately 40 in-house attorneys joined this program this year, more than double the anticipated amount, Anderson said. This year's participants include senior lawyers from Facebook, Google, Intel, Gigamon, Intuit, Apple, Mobileiron, NASA, Logitech, PayPal, Infinera, Citrix, Marvell and Chevron. And there's a wait list for next year's program.
The program divides each discussion meeting, which lasts two to three hours, into four small 10-person groups. While each discussion session centers on a particular theme to stimulate and steer conversation, each flows freely. It was designed this way in order to go beyond the brief meet-and-greets at cocktail receptions and provide a better process to build solid connections, Anderson said.
Navigating Within Your Organization: Avoiding Internal Political Landmines
For example, the first session held at Google focused on building better relationships with your company and avoiding political and/or business landmines. "You are always doing something that is quasi business and quasi legal," Anderson said. This is not always an easy task. Anderson explained that some business people can view in-house counsel as a barrier - sometimes the only barrier - to achieving their goal. Under these circumstances, "nobody wants to be the lawyer that says 'no.'"
Instead, in-house counsel should think creatively and tell the stakeholder the steps he or she needs to take in order to achieve that goal. Another great piece of advice was to just listen and learn in order to build a better relationship internally, Anderson said. Sit in on a marketing brainstorming session or listen to the finance department's discussions. Listen and understand.
Internal Promotion - Ask for It
The next session focused on internal promotion at the Silicon Valley Capital Club. "A lot of times, in-house counsel jump companies to get promoted," Anderson said. So part of the discussion focused on asking your company for what you want. "In a one-one meeting with my boss, I told her that one of my goals was to be considered for a promotion in the next year," Anderson said. She started at her company, MobileIron, as Senior Counsel. Now she is Director of Legal, Associate General Counsel. "I explained why the promotion was important to me. You can't expect people to know what you want unless you tell them."
She also learned that several in-house counsel have hired an executive coach to address specific promotion issues. Learning that your colleagues have hired an executive coach was insightful, Anderson said: "That had not occurred to me."
"Women don't negotiate as much as men," Anderson said. But they should. Women who are in-house counsel have reported earning substantially less in salary as well as total compensation than in-house counsel who are men, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel's 2015 survey. Sixty nine percent of women reported earning less than $200,000 whereas only 56% of men reported earning below $200,000.
Making the Switch from Legal to Business Side of the Company
The final session, held at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club, centered on what it takes to move from a legal role to a business role in a company. "A lot of in-house attorneys want to be doing more business type roles," Anderson said. The discussions focused on how to lay the foundation to make that change and provided a special guest to offer deeper insight: Michelle Banks, Chair of the Board of Directors of Minority Corporation Counsel Association and former Executive Vice President of and General Counsel for Gap Inc.
Anderson summarized Banks' advice: If you want to move to the business side or get promoted to general counsel, it is good to earn a mini MBA or take finance courses. And get on a non-profit board. Start now.
Nearly 60 percent of 21,980 firms headquartered in 91 countries have no female board members whatsoever, just over half have no female senior executives/board members, and less than 5 percent have a female chief executive officer, according to a working paper by the Peterson Institute of International Economics published earlier this year.
After the three discussion groups, the Puzzle Program invites its participates to attend a retreat for the last discussion session where they will come together to share respective conclusions, reflections and best practices (and how they think they can help each other post-program) in the same confidential forum. After this closed discussion, however, the participants will network with outside law firms in all other retreat activities such as meals, receptions, and trainings including one tailored for women in the business world. "I am happy to meet outside counsel," Anderson said. "You never know what you are going to need."
Ultimately, for Anderson, she is "happy about the connections I have made" through IHCN's Puzzle Program. And these types of connections may help build a pipeline to feed more female managers and board members to companies worldwide, a pipeline that can ultimately improve a company's performance, according to the Peterson Institute's working paper. As the paper found: "the presence of women in corporate leadership positions may improve firm performance and that the magnitudes of the correlations are not small."
MEET THE BOARD: Summer Selleck
Co-Affiliate, Contra Costa County Bar Association - Women's Section
Where and what do you practice?
I started SC Selleck Law as a sole practitioner in 2013. While I have practiced a few different types of law since being admitted to the bar, I mainly focus on trusts, estates, conservatorships, guardianships, and probate in the San Francisco East Bay area these days. I also practice criminal law defense. I enjoy working with diverse clients and pride myself on advocating for equal rights especially within the LGBTQ community.
Tell us about your membership in CWL and the Board.
I am currently the co-affiliate Governor on the Board of California Women Lawyers representing the Contra Costa County Bar Association's Women's Section. I have held this position jointly with Suzette Torres since 2014.
What do you enjoy most about being on the CWL Board?
My favorite part of CWL is the collaboration between our board and our membership. At the board meetings we come together to represent our communities and organizations. We work cooperatively to change legislation when necessary, to improve access to the legal profession as well as the laws of this State, and to obtain equal rights for all. With the help of our membership we are able to band together our many districts to make a greater change within California and beyond.
Tell us something interesting and new about yourself.
One thing you may not know about me is my mother passed away suddenly my first week of law school in 2007. A month later I swam the span of the Golden Gate Bridge in her honor. This year I will be authoring a chapter in a book coming out in November called
Finding your Mojo: Stories of Perspiration and Inspiration. My chapter will feature how my mother profoundly changed my life and shaped the person I am today. All proceeds from the book will go towards supporting our United States Veterans.
OCWLA Recruits New Members
On July 16, 2016, the Orange County Women Lawyers Association (OCWLA) attended the Orange County Bar Association's Bridging the Gap program for new bar admittees. OCWLA Board Members Tracy Forbath and Michelle Philo recruited approximately a dozen new members, including a Pokemon Go visitor! The event was held at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California
On Thursday, September 22, 2016, OCWLA's annual fundraising Gala will be at The Resort at Pelican Hill. This event will honor The Honorable Gail Andler of the Orange County Superior Court as Judge of the Year and Michele Johnson of Latham & Watkins, LLP as Attorney of the Year. Justice Eileen Moore of the California Court of Appeal, 4th District will serve as the keynote speaker. Registration and additional sponsorship information can be found here: http://ocwla.org/event-2218719.
NEWS FROM CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION - WOMEN'S SECTION
September 15, 2016 - CCCBA Women's Section Annual Luncheon - 2016: Lean In For Lawyers -- How to Combat Gender-Biased Self Doubt and Stop Sabotaging Ourselves.
In this interactive seminar, Assistant Presiding Judge Jill Fannin will explore implicit gender bias that may hurt a practitioner's performance, inhibit our ownership of accomplishments, and prevent us from reaching our true potential.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
12 Noon - 1:30 pm
Jack's Restaurant, 60 Crescent Dr., Pleasant Hill
October 6, 2016 - BAR FUND BENEFIT 2016 in Support of Community Violence Solution
The BAR FUND Benefit will be held on Thursday, October 6, 2016, from 5:30 - 8:00 pm in the courtyard at the Lafayette Park Hotel. For the past 28 years, Contra Costa County Bar Association's BAR FUND has been raising awareness of the need for pro bono legal services for low income members of our community. Each year, CCCBA members come together to learn about and support a worthy cause at one of the county's most prestigious venues. It should be a fun and compelling event, and we hope your firm will participate. Please join us at this year's BAR FUND BENEFIT to support Community Violence Solutions. See below for more details regarding the mission of Community Violence Solutions (CVS).
Lafayette Park Hotel
3287 Mount Diablo Blvd
Lafayette, CA 94549
5:30 - 8:00 pm
October 27, 2016 - SAVE THE DATE! - CCCBA - Women's Section Annual Dinner
Scott's Seafood (Garden Area)
Walnut Creek, CA
More information to follow.
WORLDWIDEWOMEN HOST GIRLS' FESTIVAL
The WorldWideWomen Foundation in Marin County, California, is hosting a Girls' Festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco on October 15, 2016. The foundation's goal is to make certain that every female who attends the Festival is inspired to see her potential, possibilities, and become a part of a global community working to impact the lives of women and girls around the world.
The Festival is an all-day event that will feature 80+ local and global girls' organizations across several categories, each of which is working to empower girls and improve their lives. Approximately 6,000 girls and their parents, significantly for the underserved, are expected to attend.
Programs will include a Makers'/STEM Fair, workshops on anti-bullying, human trafficking prevention, technology, financial management, robotic demonstrations, Minnow Tank showcasing young entrepreneurs, 15-minute speed mentoring sessions with women from many diverse professions, sports mini-clinics through some of our Bay Area sports franchises, a Vital Voices panel, and workshops on a variety of other issues. In particular, there is a wonderful workshop being collaboratively developed for the festival by organizations that support and advocate on behalf of girls around the world -Rise Up, Students Stand with Malala, and GirlUp/United Nations Foundation. The theme for the workshop will be a girl's right to education. The Bay Area girls who participate in the program will be taught practical methods and tools to become advocates for girls around the world who are denied access to education. Michelle Obama's special initiative "Let Girls Learn" will be featured in the program, and she will likely film a special message to the festival attendees. See more here.
For more information on the Girls' Festival, see: http://www.worldwidewomenfestival.com.
LADDER DOWN PROGRAM TO START IN SF
The Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel is bringing the Ladder Down program for women attorneys to San Francisco. Ladder Down is a year-long program that is unique in both structure and content. Its monthly sessions instruct in three key areas: leadership, business development, and mentoring. In addition to monthly group meetings, the participants meet quarterly with small accountability groups to report on their progress and set new goals. The sessions are taught by industry leaders, with panel presentations by local attorneys, judges, and corporate clients. In January 2017, Ladder Down will be launching in San Francisco. Information about the upcoming San Francisco program, including sponsorship and registration, can be found here.
The bias of race and gender behind Brock Turner's sentence as detailed in the President's Message above has garnered significant media attention this summer. Rightly so. The steps taken to correct this injustice may seem small at first and, at times, lacking in hard proof that change is coming. But it will.
Look at the Rio Olympics. An article in the
Los Angeles Times on August 17, 2016, reported that the U.S. women competitors won 41 medals in the first 11 days, more than any entire nation except China and Britain. And the U.S. women competitors won 17 gold medals in the first 11 days, as many as any other country's entire delegation, according to the article. This success is a result of Title IX, a law passed in the 1970s that bars sex discrimination in education programs including sports programs, and the legal battles enforcing it. See an NPR article at their website.
Like Title IX, laws barring sex discrimination in the courtroom and the practice of law are being strengthened and enforced. Change is coming. Follow CWL to continue the advocacy.
Since my two-year term as District 7 Governor is done in September, this is my last newsletter for 2015-2016. Thank you to CWL, its Board of Governors, affiliates and members!