1 A voice for Women in the Law since 1980 page 1 Incoming President s Message It is with great pleasure that I assume the role of WLAC President this year. We have an awesome, energetic Board comprised of women (and a couple men) dedicated to helping others and serving as leaders in our community. It is my hope that I can not only follow in the footsteps of the former leaders of WLAC that helped build this wonderful organization but that I can assist in helping it grow and serve as a conduit to assisting women throughout Alameda County. Our retreat at the beginning of January left me in awe and admiration of those serving on the WLAC Board. Everyone has a different story to tell of what makes them tick. At the conclusion of the retreat, I left feeling empowered and excited about what this year has in store for our membership and community and truly grateful to be able to work alongside these powerful, intelligent, and wise individuals. I m proud of the diversity on our Board and the willingness of our Board to work hard, reach out, and to give back. We started January 2014, with our retreat and hosting two exciting programs. We co-sponsored A Panel Discussion for Today s Women in the Law at Boalt Hall and hosted an MCLE Program entitled Running on Empty: Work/Life Balance Strategies for Parents Who Stayed in the Race. We plan to have a Movie Night that will offer MCLE credit, lots of mixers, a May-Spring Reception, panel discussions for our local law schools, our annual Judges dinner, and a variety of opportunities for our members to serve as mentors to our young lawyers, high school students, and law students. We encourage each and everyone one of you to attend our events and to get involved in giving back. If we all give just a little to help our communities, we can make a powerful impact. If you haven t renewed your membership, please do so. The bigger we become, the stronger we will be, and the more we can influence those around us and make a difference in empowering woman and making a positive impact on our communities. My vision for this year is that we take ownership, make a difference, get involved, and grow as a united force. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our Board members, Judicial Liasons, and past presidents. I also would like to give a special welcome to Judge Tara Desautels. She has agreed to serve on the WLAC Board as one of our judicial liaisons. She will join Judge Kimberly E. Colwell, Judge Tara M. Flanagan, and Judge Stuart Hing who have been serving as judicial liaisons and providing invaluable advice. Brenda Aguilar-Guerrero, President Judicial Spotlight: Judge Desautels 2-4 Today s Women in the Law Recap 4 Honor Roll 5 Out-going President s Message 5 Herma Hill Kay Fellowship News 6-7 WLAC Member Spotlight 8 Practice Corner: DUI 9-10 WLAC Event - Running on Empty 10 Upcoming Events WLAC OFFICERS AND BOARD President Brenda Aguilar-Guerrero Vice-President Ilse C. Scott Secretary Lauren Young Epstein Treasurer Kevin Ikuma Judicial Liaisons Judge Kimberly E. Colwell Judge Tara M. Desautels Judge Tara M. Flanagan Judge Stuart Hing Immediate Past President Mala Sahai Past President Council Chair Toni Mims-Cochran Board Sharon Alkire Roksana S. Bidgoli Gina Boer Karen Bovarnick Jasmine Davaloo Barbara Dickinson Paula Rasmussen Joy Ricardo-Clay Mala Sahai Bentrish Satarzadeh Odilla Sidime Nikki Vo Toni Mims-Cochran
2 page 2 JUDICIAL SPOTLIGHT: Judge Tara M. Desautels, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Tara M. Desautels is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and UC Hastings School of Law. She was appointed to the bench by Governor Schwarzenegger in Prior to her appointment, Judge Desautels worked for the Alameda County District Attorney s office from 1997 to 2005, then as Senior Associate at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman from 2005 to Judge Desautels is married and has two children. WLAC is also happy to welcome her as one of our judicial liaisons for The following interview with Judge Desautels took place in January 2014: Q: In what ways is the job of being a judge different than what you expected? Judge Desautels: It is better than expected. It is the best job in the world. As an attorney, you think about the quick decision-making that happens in the courtroom, but there is so much more good work that happens off the bench. Off the bench I spend a great deal of time thinking about how my actions impact the people that are not in the courtroom. I am researching the law and educating myself in different ways so that my decisions will take into account the ramifications outside the courtroom. One example is in the family law context. While the litigants in the courtroom are the parents, I am thinking about the impact on the children whose interests must be considered but who may not be physically represented. Q: What factors led you to your decision to be a judge? By Gina D. Boer Judge Desautels: My decision to be a judge developed over time. It was borne out of my need to feel connected to the community. Beginning with law school, which followed as a logical next step after attending Georgetown s School of Foreign Service, I found myself drawn to working on the ground. The emphasis of the Alameda County DA s office on justice and prosecutorial discretion requires you to be in touch with the community. As a civil attorney, I enjoyed the challenging work and the intellectual rigor, but I also had the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. During that time, I was able to stay connected to Alameda County through my board work at CALICO (The Child Abuse Listening, Interviewing, & Coordination Center). When I was approached and asked to submit my name for judicial consideration, it made sense and seemed like the best way to use my background and skills to impart justice and continue serving the community. Q: What is it like to preside in a courtroom over types of cases you did not handle as a lawyer-is learning new areas of law fun, challenging or both? Judge Desautels: We work a lot. I have to study up on areas I know nothing about. For instance, while I was doing family law, I read everything available: judicial bench guides, law books, statutes I took courses online and in person, trailed two long-time Commissioners who had also been long-time family law attorneys, and spoke with other judges
3 page 3 Judge Tara Desautels - continued and practitioners. I also read research studies and spoke with our Child Custody Recommending Counselors and other experts about how different time-share arrangements impact different aged and developmentally able children. I loved the challenge. I am doing the same thing now that I am handling Unlawful Detainers as an ancillary assignment to my general criminal calendar. Q: What do you enjoy most about your job as a judge? What do you want to be known for? How do you ensure fairness to self-represented litigants? Judge Desautels: It is tremendously fulfilling to be in a position where my job every day is to try and do the right thing, to try and impart justice. My utmost goal is to be fair to all sides. I am very aware of the need to set aside any personal perspectives I might initially have (as we all do) in order to be fair to everyone. Being fair requires me to listen, to be open, and to be aware. I found that having experiences in both criminal and civil practice gave me an eye-opening change in perspective. I came to know the many differences amongst attorneys and clients in these two very different areas of practice. I have been careful not to forget those differences and to be aware of the lenses of perception, as one of my favorite Georgetown professors used to say, that every litigant wears when they appear in court. When selfrepresented litigants (SRL) appear in court against a represented litigant, we are presented with a special challenge. I cannot give legal advice and will state that directly but, to ensure fairness, I may translate the lawyer s comments into plain language or explain a tentative ruling or proposed judgment to ensure that the SRL understands the issue at hand and has the opportunity to be heard. Q: Has being a judge changed your personal life and how do you manage as a parent? Judge Desautels: It has made me appreciate my life more. I have seen almost everything in the best and worst of circumstances. I have seen people work together towards a solution, and I have seen people tearing each other apart. I am incredibly fortunate to have the life I have and could not do my job as a judge and as a mother without the support of my partner. As a judge, I do not have the same flexibility I had as a lawyer. My husband takes care of the daytime calls from preschool when we have a sick child. Support and communication are critical to my success in both worlds. Q: What advice would you give women lawyers who aspire to be judges? Judge Desautels: Go for it. Don t hold back. To any woman lawyer, I would say to hang in there. There will be tough times just like life in general; there are phases, good and bad. Stick it out through the tough phases. The law needs women attorneys and women judges. I am fortunate because there are/were women judges in this county who paved the way for my generation: Justice Joanne Parilli and Justice Carol Corrigan, for example. As women, as people, we all bring something unique to the bench and the bench benefits from all of our individual contributions. Q: What advice would you give to lawyers who appear before you? Judge Desautels: Be prepared to back up your arguments with law and evidence. It may seem obvious, but it cannot be understated. There are many times lawyers pound the table pleading their case, but they do not have the evidence or law to back up their demands. Listen. Don t feel bound to your legal pad and list of prepared questions. It is important to hear what the witness is saying and respond. For instance, a witness may say something that would open the door to a line of questioning that had been excluded by a motion in limine. If you are not listening to the witness, you may miss an opportunity good or bad.
4 page 4 Judge Tara Desautels - continued Q: What pet peeves do you have about courtroom conduct or courtroom demeanor? Judge Desautels: No gum. Be respectful and polite. Don t interrupt. Everyone will get their chance to speak and be heard. But overall, I have had mostly positive experiences; most attorneys are very good. Sometimes I think there is more nastiness amongst civil attorneys because they do not continue to encounter each other as frequently as attorneys in, for example, criminal or family law. Some suffer from what we used to call the poison pen or now, the poison keyboard ; it s much easier to be nasty in writing than in person. Q: Who are your role models? Judge Desautels: It is hard to narrow down. Sandra Day O Connor, Carol Corrigan, Joanne Parilli, Mary Cranston at Pillsbury who was head of the firm while raising a family, Single Parents as a group have become role models since I became a mother; I am amazed at how they manage it all. Q: Would you encourage women to enter the profession now, even though employment prospects are not as good as they once were? Judge Desautels: Absolutely. It is important for women as a whole to be in the profession; the profession needs to have us. The glass ceiling exists, and we need to keep talking about it. Men play a huge role in the advancement of women because they hold the majority of power positions and are often the gatekeepers. It is not enough for a law firm to say it is addressing inequality by appointing one female attorney to the ranks of partner. We will not reach gender or racial equality until we can stop counting. Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you pick a career in law? Judge Desautels: Yes. In college, I learned about understanding varied perspectives. In law school, I loved learning how to think and reason through problems. The law, both as an attorney and as a judge, enables me to put to practice these fundamentals. A Recap of Today s Women in the Law Discussion By Golda Calonge and Sheli DeNola UC Berkeley, School of Law, Class of 2016 On January 24, 2014, the Boalt Hall Women s Association in collaboration with the hosted a distinguished panel of speakers discussing a variety of topics that affect women in the legal profession. Speakers Assistant United States Attorney Victoria Carradero, Hon. Kimberly E. Colwell, Seyfarth & Shaw Partner Catherine Dacre, Hon. Tara M. Desautels, and NTT Data Senior Vice President and Corporate Counsel Jennifer Lurie spanned the legal gamut from public sector to private, litigation to corporate, big and little firm to in-house, each offering their unique perspectives and insight. Margaret Yi and Siena Caruso (both senior board members of the Boalt Hall Women s Association) moderated the discussion, after which students were invited to ask direct questions. The panelists fielded inquiries regarding challenges they faced as women in the legal field, extended absences from the workforce, conflict resolution in the workplace, and building strong ties with the legal community. The event closed with a catered dinner, an open invitation to network, and endless inspiration to continue the fight for gender equality and social justice.
5 page 5 HONOR ROLL Trial Judge of the Year Congratulations to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gail Berreola for being named the Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association Trial Judge of the Year for Alameda County! Judge Berreola was celebrated at Scott s Restaurant on January 22, American Bar Association 2014 Spirit of Excellence Awards Please join us in congratulating Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte on her American Bar Association Spirit of Excellence Award. This prestigious award, presented by the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, celebrates the accomplishments of those in the legal profession who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Judge Harbin-Forte will be among the seven honorees chosen nationally who will be celebrated on February 8, 2014 at a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. Alameda County Superior Court Presiding Judge Effective in January 2014, Judge Winifred Smith assumed leadership of the Alameda County Superior Court as Presiding Judge. Judge Smith was elected by an overwhelming majority of her peers last summer for this prestigious position. In assuming the mantle of Presiding Judge, Judge Smith becomes just the third woman jurist in Alameda County to do so, and the first African-American woman to so serve. Congratulations Judge Smith! Dear WLAC Members and Supporters: Out-going President s Message Thank you for the opportunity to actively participate within the organization over the past five years. I thoroughly enjoyed having this platform to: develop a mentoring program for law students; distribute funds raised for deserving graduates committed to public service; broaden the background, practice areas, and experience of the membership base; form relationships with law schools, firms, and associations; promote programming and networking; and meet inspiring and accomplished people. It has been an immensely rewarding experience for me, but it could not have happened without the hard work and contributions of so many. Thank you to all who have generously donated time, money, and efforts! As we share visions and goals for the organization, it is with much confidence and delight that I welcome 2014 President Brenda Aguilar-Guerrero. Aside from being a successful and respected litigator, she is truly a gem of a person. I have no doubt that you will be excited to support Brenda and that you will feel inspired to get involved as she takes the organization forward! With appreciation, Mala Sahai
6 page 6 Boalt Hall Women s Association: Herma Hill Kay Fellowship News The Boalt Hall Women s Association created the Herma Hill Kay (HHK) Fellowship in 1999 in recognition of Herma Hill Kay s impressive legacy in the area of women s rights and to honor her deanship here at Boalt Hall. For over a decade, the HHK Fellowship has been used to encourage participation in public interest jobs by supporting a wide range of legal work ranging from impact litigation aimed at eradicating discriminatory policies to direct services for underrepresented and disenfranchised women. For students with outstanding initiative and creative talents, the Fellowship has also offered students with the flexibility to use the Fund in projects that have established legal clinics for survivors of domestic violence and educated immigrant women on their employment rights. In 2013, seven outstanding students were recognized by the Boalt Hall Women s Association (BHWA) for their dedication to furthering the empowerment and equality of women in the legal field. These seven Herma Hill Kay Fellows spent their summers working in different public interest positions around the country. Their experiences are detailed below, and we are excited to share their incredible successes with you: Amanda Rogers Public Defender Service (District of Columbia) Without the HHK scholarship, I would not have been able to work at the Public Defender Service (PDS), and I would have missed out on the amazing experience. At the PDS, I was able to work with indigent clients, strategize with defense lawyers about the clients cases, research and write various motions and see them argued in court, and gain trial advocacy instruction through the PDS trial training courses. Because my dream is to work as a public defender, this experience at the PDS has been invaluable in preparing me to be a better advocate for my future clients. Rebecca Popuch Public Counsel s Immigrants Rights Project (Los Angeles, CA) Thanks to the grant I received from the HHK Fellowship, I had the opportunity to work at the Immigrants Rights Project, where I worked on a wide range of issues relating to immigration status. The bulk of my work was devoted to helping clients apply for affirmative immigration benefits like Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U-Visas, NACARA, Waiver of Inadmissibility, and Asylum. In addition to meeting with clients who had been detained, I also screened them for relief from removal and helped them to understand their rights in removal proceedings. My work this summer has been incredibly fulfilling and I am extremely grateful to the HHK Fellowship for making it possible. Arlyn Katen National Center for Lesbian Rights (San Francisco, CA) The HHK Fellowship supported my summer work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Besides assisting people who had contacted our legal help line, I also worked on impact litigation that has greatly expanded my interests in LGBTQ legal issues. During my internship, I worked on two projects aimed at helping transgendered people gain access to transition-related healthcare through social services and the federal prison system. The HHK Fellowship s generous financial support has enabled me to immerse myself in LGBTQ issues that I hope to focus on after graduation. Theresa Cheng Consumer Insurance and Information Oversight Department (Center for Medicare and Medicaid) I was at the heart of the national Affordable Care Act implementation. Much of my work revolved around the National Health Insurance Marketplace, where my primary duties included developing and coordinating the nondiscriminatory review of plans applying to be listed on the Marketplace. Now, I am in Bangkok, Thailand, where I am spearheading a
7 page 7 project to protect the sexual and reproductive rights of HIV-positive women. I will be testifying before the Thai Senate Commission on Women s Affairs this October concerning the prevalence of coerced sterilization and abortion. Thank you, BHWA and Dean Kay, for the support you have provided in helping me realize these incredible and rewarding experiences! Katie Towt American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California Thanks to the HHK Fellowship, I was able to pursue a summer internship with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I worked on litigation assignments related to reproductive justice and LGBT rights, and participated in policy initiatives including a state bill to expand the access of Californian women to abortion services, and a campaign to support Wendy Davis filibuster to block legislation aimed at restricting access to abortion in Texas. My summer at the ACLU has reaffirmed my interest in working on civil liberties issues involving women and other marginalized communities, and I am very grateful that the HHK Fellowship for that opportunity. Samia Hossain Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (New York City, NY) This summer, I worked as a legal intern at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), where I worked in two project areas the Education Equity Project and the Anti-Trafficking Initiative. In Education Equity, I researched and wrote a series of memos for a potential discrimination lawsuit against a conservative university that has a racially discriminatory honor code. In Anti-Trafficking, I directly served a woman and her son with their T-visa applications to remain in the US after having been trafficked into the country without documentation. My summer was an incredible learning experience on issues affecting Asian Americans, and the opportunity would not have been possible without the generous support of the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship. Lauren Smith United States Attorney of Northern California (Oakland, CA) Lauren worked on a variety of topics ranging from copyright infringement to Ponzi schemes, child pornography, passport fraud, and drug-related felonies. She was able to witness crime reduction operations in action including a FBIcoordinated, intelligence-gathering sweep. In one instance, her work was used to prepare for oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit. The experience opened her eyes to the nature of prosecutorial work, the challenges inherent in our criminal justice system, and the many interactions between Federal and State law. She will continue to use the financial support from the HHK Fellowship to support her work in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. All contributions to the HHK Fellowship can be made payable to The Herma Hill Kay Summer Fellowship Fund. Donations are tax-deductible, and all donors will receive a receipt that recognizes your contribution. To donors, we would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to join BHWA and Professor Kay at the HHK Fellows Reception in mid-april to honor the 2014 HHK Fellows. We appreciate your donations and we hope that you will continue to support BHWA by contributing to the 2014 HHK Fund. For further information regarding the HHK Fellowship, please do not hesitate to contact us at berkeley.edu and Sincerely, Angela Shen and Madeline Barker Mai, Herma Hill Kay Fellowship Co-Chairs
8 Paula Rasmussen page 8 Ms. Rasmussen is a personal injury attorney in the Oakland office of Brent Coon & Associates, a firm based in Texas. She has handled motor vehicle wrongful death, slip and fall, and product liability cases. Currently her practice focuses on injured railroad workers under the Federal Employers Liability Act and her firm is designated legal counsel of the Brotherhood of the Maintenance of Way-a division of the Teamsters Union. Paula, a native Californian, graduated from Golden Gate University (GGU) with an emphasis on litigation and was awarded the Lee Baxter Fellowship in trial advocacy post graduation. This is her second year on the WLAC board and her first year as the WLAC Newsletter Editor. In addition to her work with WLAC, she is an active member of AAJ (American Association for Justice) and the editor of the AAJ Railway Law Section Newsletter. She also regularly acts as Judge for GGU s Mock Trial Competitions and Appellate Advocacy arguments. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Paula was a professional international opera singer based in New York City and Cologne Germany. After over fifteen years in the profession and after 9/11, she decided she wanted to stop traveling, move back to California, become an active part of a community and to join a profession dedicated to helping people. Having traveled the world and performed in many of the world s most beautiful opera houses, I can honestly say I did everything I set out to do as a performer with very few regrets. I went to law school to learn about our government and laws and found that I really loved it. Interestingly, being a trial lawyer has much in common with being a performer so I fit right in! Her husband, also an opera singer, decided to join her in this quest and also became a trial attorney; they hope to have the opportunity to try a case together someday. Ms. Rasmussen is dedicated to the cause of supporting other women in the law and is happy to serve with her colleagues on the WLAC board in Sharon E. Alkire WLAC Board Member Spotlight Ms. Alkire is a newly minted family law and research attorney with a special interest in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. She represents Bay Area Legal Aid clients as a pro bono attorney in domestic violence and dissolution cases, and works as a contract attorney for many Alameda County law offices. Ms. Alkire presents trainings on intimate partner violence in LGBT communities, and founded the first San Francisco Queen s Bench Association Diversity Committee. When I started joining legal organizations as a student, I did not find myself as a member of the LGBT community reflected in their committees or programming. There are such amazingly diverse experiences within our own organizations, offering a wealth of resources that can improve the work we do. Because Ms. Alkire graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2012 and has not yet completely erased her memories of the bar exam, she views part of her role as a WLAC Board Member to be a bridge between law students, new attorneys and established attorneys. I have always felt tremendously welcomed and supported by members of WLAC, since I joined as a 2L. Many members have opened doors for me to work, knowledge, experience and friendships and I cannot thank them enough. I am excited to be in a position where I can begin offering the same to other women in the law. While starting a second career as an attorney presents unique challenges, it has enabled Ms. Alkire to bring a wealth of experience across multiple disciplines to the WLAC Board of Directors. Before attending law school, Ms. Alkire was a zookeeper with the Oakland Zoo, an assistant researcher on Decision Theory, and a peer counselor with the Berkeley Free Clinic. These experiences well prepared her for transitioning into the legal field. As a zookeeper I was the voice for the animals in my care. I advocated for safer housing, effective medical treatment, and the right to enriching lives in captivity. I should have known then I d become an attorney!
9 page 9 PRACTICE CORNER As the new WLAC Newsletter Editor, I would like to begin a column where members can share some news, information and practical advice they have garnered from their experiences in their area of specialty. Our first article is from board member Kevin Ikuma. If you would like to submit an article about developing law in your practice area or about your experiences, please send articles to along with your contact information. If an article is selected for publication, we will contact you. Paula Rasmussen I ve gotten a DUI! What do I do now? By Kevin Ikuma Many of us have been asked questions by friends or family about driving under the influence. Indeed, misdemeanor driving while under the influence (Vehicle Code section 23152(a) and 23152(b)) is often the only interaction that otherwise law abiding citizens will have with the criminal justice system. Driving under the influence is one of the most prevalent criminal events encountered by our society and runs the entire gamut of professional, economic and social strata. In California, the legal blood alcohol limit is.08 percent or more, by weight of alcohol. This article will attempt to serve as a basic primer in the initial stages of legal process that occur after an individual has been arrested under suspicion of driving over the legal limit. Of course, this article is not a substitute for legal advice from a criminal defense attorney and anyone who has been arrested for driving under the influence should immediately contact an attorney. I only had a couple of drinks and I felt fine driving. Am I over the legal limit? The short answer to this question is that the personal observation of sobriety has no bearing on whether the driver is over the legal limit. The California Vehicle Code has two statutes which cover overlapping conduct. Vehicle Code 23152(a) makes it a crime to drive when alcohol or drugs have impaired a driver. Impairment is not always a consequence of the level of alcohol in the system but of the actual effects of the alcohol on the driver. Individuals with a lower tolerance for alcohol may be convicted under this statute even if their blood alcohol level fell below the legal limit. Vehicle Code 23152(b) makes it a crime to drive if the driver s blood alcohol is over a.08 percentage, regardless of the feelings or symptoms of intoxication. Each individual is different and the ingestion of alcohol varies with the physiology of the driver. Body weight, food consumption and the elapse of time all have a dramatic effect on a person s alcohol absorption. It should be noted that.08 is considerably lower than where many individuals feel buzzed or tipsy. Will the DMV suspend my license immediately? Once a person has been arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level greater than.08, the arresting officer will issue a temporary driver s license. Thirty days after the issuance of this document, the DMV will automatically suspend the driver s license. If the driver wishes to contest the suspension, then the driver must contact the DMV within ten days of the issuance of the temporary driver s license. When contacting the DMV, the driver must request a hearing with the department, discovery as to the nature of the allegations, and a stay on the license suspension. The DMV will then schedule and conduct a hearing where the issue will be whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the driver was driving with a blood alcohol level greater that.08. If the driver waits until after the ten day window to contact the DMV then they will forfeit their right to contest the license suspension. It should also be noted that there is a second suspension that will follow a conviction for driving under the influence. The DMV suspension is called the Admin Per Se suspension or APS suspension.
10 page 10 What are the penalties for driving under the influence? Penalties for driving under the influence as a first offense are up to 6 months in jail, a fine (usually around $2000 depending on the county), mandatory attendance at a DUI school, and a ban on driving with any alcohol in the driver s blood. In a few selected counties (including Alameda) the DMV will also require the driver to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. This mobile Breathalyzer will keep the vehicle from starting until the driver blows a breath sample into the device. Driving under the influence arrests can be traumatic for the any well intentioned yet careless person who drives after drinking alcohol. The consequences of these decisions should not be understated. Traffic related fatalities are often caused by impaired drivers and the consequences of driving under the influence can be tragic. However, the results of the arrest can be managed so that the driver can preserve their rights and obtain the best possible results. WLAC Event Running On Empty: Strategies from Parents who Stayed in the Race By Karen Bovarnick It is not often that a two-hour panel discussion runs over, especially when many of the attendees are young parents struggling with work-life balance issues but it happened this past January at WLAC s presentation of Running on Empty. The panel, consisting of accomplished professionals with grown children, featured Honorable Winifred Smith, Presiding Judge Superior Court, Nancy Fineman, a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, Toni-Mims Cochran, a sole practitioner in Oakland, and Nora Wong, a public defender in Alameda County. Karen Bovarnick, from the California Attorney General s Office served as moderator. Panelists discussed issues they faced when their children were young, often made more difficult as their own parents aged. With candor, they described how challenging situations clarified their priorities and bred a confidence that empowered them to become deliberate about their choices in the workplace. One panelist counseled, don t take the bait, if stay-at-home moms lay down the gauntlet to compete in soccer snacks, and another noted that it is important to recognize and avoid similar ego-fueled competition in the workplace. Panelists also talked about choosing to have their social activities and volunteer work overlap with their children s activities, and noted that some of these experiences can be networking opportunities. The audience discussion that followed focused on combatting prejudice toward parents in the workplace, e.g., increasing bargaining power through networking and developing your book of business, having a posse of people who will promote you within the firm, and having confidants who will reassure you of your competence and value when you are low. Women s bar associations like WLAC also provide community and support. The consensus was that there is no single solution, but rather strategies, to address the variety of situational challenges facing professional parents. Aside from the importance of having clear priorities, or as one panelist described it, having your A, B, and C list, some other take-aways were that the crunch time of balancing work and parenting is temporary. Hearing about the children of women who had stayed in the race, it was clear that we are raising a new generation of professionals far more conscience and intolerant of gender bias in the work place. UPCOMING EVENTS Please check our website for dates and times for these upcoming events: February 20th - WLAC-CHBA Mixer at The District March - Movie Night April - Spring Reception
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