President's Message

Janet Hong

WLALA President 2022-2023

Janet Hong on Access to Justice

President's Message, September 2022

When I first joined WLALA, I was unsure if this organization was for me. With such a large organization, I didn’t know where I fit in, especially since few people looked like me. Then I started attending the Rainmakers Lunch, where more seasoned practitioners met to discuss how to bring in business. It was equally a networking and support group. The advice and feedback I received was invaluable. Finally, I found the support that I did not find elsewhere – women lawyers supporting other women lawyers. I was hooked. Through WLALA, I have met some incredible and inspiring women over the years. I am now honored to serve as the 103rd President of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles. 

Last month, the Board of Governors met to plan for this upcoming year. We brainstormed about how WLALA can better serve its members and the community. It was clear from our discussions that women still face equity issues in the workplace and women still need equal access to leadership training, support, and opportunities. This anecdotal evidence was confirmed by the State Bar’s report card on the diversity of California’s legal profession. (See Hellen Hong’s article in this newsletter). The State Bar found that our attorney population does not reflect the diversity of California, and that women of color are underrepresented in leadership positions across all employment settings. We still have a long way to go in closing the equity gap for women and women of color. That is where we come in.

Both the broader context of Access to Justice and the thoughtful conversations at our retreat made me think: how can we leverage our power and influence as attorneys to close the access gap for the most vulnerable; how can we support first generation law students and attorneys to help them succeed; how do we build a pipeline for women and women of color to seek judicial office so that the bench more accurately reflects our communities; how do we use our collective resources to tackle racial justice and reproductive justice; and how can we instill a collective responsibility to address these issues over the long haul.

By focusing on Access to Justice, we can build more meaningful connections with each other and deepen a solidarity to realize true equity and justice. In my experience, there is no better way to build that connection than by working together for a common cause. Let Access to Justice be our common cause, our rallying cry to bridge the gap and create meaningful change.

Janet Hong
President, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles

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Inner City Law Center

Inner City Law Center (ICLC) fights for housing and justice for low-income tenants, working-poor families, immigrants, people who are disabled or living with HIV/AIDS, and homeless veterans.  As the only full-time legal-services provider located on Skid Row, ICLC advocates for equitable housing policies and provides legal services to prevent and end homelessness.

The Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) has not only served as a dedicated pro bono partner on ICLC’s housing work, but the WLALA Foundation has also sponsored WLALA fellows to work with ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project on issues affecting women veterans, including those who have been victims of military sexual trauma, as well as with ICLC’s Preventing and Ending Homelessness Project, where they address a variety of legal issues that create barriers to stable housing.

These exceptional WLALA fellows have passionately worked alongside ICLC attorneys to reduce barriers to income and housing stability for Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable residents.