The Business Law Section develops and hosts (alone or in combination with other WLALA committees or other women’s organizations) programs and seminars relating to issues arising in business / corporate law. We strive to make the programs and seminars of interest to WLALA members and business people in an effort to encourage networking and business development. We welcome input on our program topics and ideas and recommendations for speakers.
The Family Law Section addresses issues of common interest to family law practitioners, providing seminars/webinars on issues that are of interest to family law lawyers, both new and experienced. The Family Law Section has also provided seminars/webinars in conjunction with the Domestic Violence Section of WLALA to help train volunteers of the Sojourn Domestic Violence Clinic and provide information to lawyers who are representing individuals in family law and domestic violence cases. Seminars on practical considerations in local family law courts and changes to California’s Family Law or related statutes have been provided.
Co-Chairs: Jennifer Lieser (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Vicky Ourfalian
Addresses issues of common interest to criminal practitioners, both prosecutors and defense counsel. Plans and conducts programs of interest to criminal attorneys.
Elizabeth Bock (email@example.com),
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and Stacy Horth-Neubert (email@example.com).
The Litigation Section addresses issues and conducts programs and activities of interest to litigators. Each year in early Spring, the Litigation Section plans and conducts an annual Litigator’s Forum. We welcome those who may be interested in participating in the Litigation Section and encourage you to share with us your ideas for program topics or events. For more information, please contact the Section chairs.
Access to Justice
To provide opportunities for WLALA members to work on access to justice issues such as pro bono volunteer opportunities; to put on a program to educate the community on access to justice issues.
The Amicus Briefs Committee evaluates pending cases raising legal and public policy issues affecting women. The Committee will join or draft amicus submissions that maintain the integrity of our legal system by advocating principles of fairness and equality, and improve the status of women by supporting their exercise of equal rights, equal representation, and reproductive choice, and promote the full participation in the legal profession of women lawyers and judges from diverse perspectives and racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The Appointive Office Committee
The Appointive Office Committee conducts evaluations of candidates seeking appointment to the judiciary or other legal-related positions. WLALA’s ratings fall within five categories, ranging from “Exceptionally Well-Qualified” to a “Not Qualified.” The process starts with an application to the Committee and culminates in a personal interview. Prior to the interview, the Committee sends out written questionnaires to references provided by the applicant. At least 30 written evaluations must be received by the Committee before an interview will be scheduled. WLALA has a great track record in assisting the appointment of qualified applicants. CLICK HERE to see the Policy Regarding WLALA Rating of Applicants or Candidates for Appointive Office. CLICK HERE to print the Request for Evaluation. For more information, please contact the Committee chairs.
Cristina Matsushima (firstname.lastname@example.org), Martha Escutia (email@example.com), and Celene Chan Andrews (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Awards & Recognition
Identifies and vets qualified candidates to nominate for various local and state-wide awards, honors and other forms of recognition such the Los Angeles Daily Journal Top 100 Lawyers, Top Women Lawyers, Top 40 Under 40 Special Features.
Co-Chairs: Michelle Cheng (email@example.com) and
Virginia Milstead (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Business Development Committee is focused on that portion of WLALA’s mission dedicated to promoting the full participation of women lawyers and judges in the legal profession. The Committee advances women in the legal profession through educational panelist discussions, and professional and business development opportunities. For example, in the past, the Committee was responsible for organizing the Annual Doctor/Lawyer Dinner. In addition to the networking opportunities, past program topics for the Annual Doctor/Lawyer Dinner of interest to both women lawyers and women doctors have included, for example, reproductive technologies and the law, stem cell research, and healthcare reform. Likewise, the Business Development Committee’s panelist discussions have focused on a wide range of practical and educational topics – ranging from advice from General Counsel panelists regarding their selection of outside counsel, to discussions with partners from various firms about their business development styles and/or use of technology. We welcome those who may be interested in participating on the Business Development Committee. We also are delighted to hear your ideas for new program topics or events. Help us with our mission to empower and advance women in the legal profession. For more information, please contact the Committee chairs.
Career Development & Life Balance
The Career Development & Life Balance Committee presents programs to support women lawyers’ efforts to advance their careers, identify and tackle new professional challenges, and build their networks. The committee also offers programming aimed at assisting women lawyers in balancing a satisfying and successful legal career with a fulfilling life outside of work. The committee’s programs address a wide variety of topics related to these areas of emphasis as well as social events for our WLALA members and their families.
Stephanie Peatman (email@example.com), Wendy Wu (firstname.lastname@example.org), and
Susan Yu (email@example.com)
The Mentoring Committee encourages and facilitates the establishment and maintenance of mentor relationships between less experienced and more experienced lawyers. The Mentoring Committee organizes a monthly mentoring reception. The Mentoring Committee also matches lawyers with similar interests on an ongoing basis, and monitors the mentoring relationships to encourage their continuation. In so doing, the Mentoring Committee looks to similarities in background, practice area and other interests and concerns to find the mentor who can best assist a young lawyer in furthering her career.
Co-Chairs: Shaun Dabby Jacobs (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Merete Rietveld (email@example.com)
Conference of Delegates
The Conference of California Bar Associations (“CCBA”) is a state-wide organization made up of attorneys from local, specialty, and minority bar associations across the state, that are focused on improving California’s laws. CCBA holds a conference once a year, usually in the fall, where the various bar associations debate revisions and amendments to California law called “resolutions.” Getting a resolution passed by CCBA involves a combination of advance preparation, marshaling your allies, and negotiating or bartering with your opponents, and skillful arguments on the Conference floor. Once a resolution is passed by CCBA, CCBA’s lobbyist takes the resolution to the California Legislature or the California Judicial Council to find a sponsor and get the resolution enacted into law. The WLALA delegation has a long history of active involvement in CCBA. In the past, we have sponsored and passed resolutions regarding family leave, child pornography, domestic partnership, domestic violence and civil procedure. Some of our resolutions have gone to Sacramento, been carried as a bill and passed into law. To learn more about CCBA and to see resolutions that are debated at the Conference go to CCBA’s website at www.calconference.org.
The Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Domestic Violence Project (DV Project). The DV Project sponsors a weekly drop-in legal clinic in conjunction with Sojourn, a domestic violence service provider in Santa Monica.
At the legal clinic, clients – all of whom are referred by Sojourn – are provided with assistance on a variety of legal issues, including restraining orders, divorce/separation, child custody, child/spousal support, criminal proceedings as well as civil law issues.
The legal clinic is staffed entirely by Carol Tantau, Sojourn Support Services Coordinator, Minty Msiu-Kootnikoff, Legal Services Director, Sojourn, and WLALA volunteer attorneys who answer legal questions, explain the legal process, inform victims of their rights and make referrals as necessary. Through the legal clinic, attorneys provide legal advice, guidance and support to these women, and clients are welcome to return as often as necessary until their legal issues are resolved. Each client consultation with is brief, about 10-15 minutes depending on the number of clients waiting for assistance. The legal clinic does not provide representation of clients in court and does not assist in completing legal forms. However, attorneys are available to review forms completed by clients and to prepare clients to testify and present their case in court. Repeat clients often work on reestablishing their lives and working towards other positive goals for themselves and/or their children.
Volunteers may help in various ways: 1) volunteering directly for the legal clinic itself; 2) assisting the co-chairs in organizing with training materials, programs and meetings, or 3) offering bono representation to a client if the volunteer so desires, with mentorship from Sojourn’s Legal Services Director. There is no expectation that a volunteer take a case for representation. We welcome all volunteer attorneys and law students regardless of background or training in domestic violence or family law issues.
For more information, please contact our chair Jill Piano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equity, Belonging & Anti-Racism (EBAR)
EBAR mission statement:
WLALA’s committee on Equity, Belonging & Anti-Racism (EBAR) works to give voice and action to WLALA’s commitment to serve and advance the careers of all women lawyers of diverse backgrounds and identities. WLALA recognizes that it must do more to use its power to address the particular barriers that diverse women face in the practice of law and generally. WLALA is committed to being out front in the fight to eliminate structural racism and all forms of inequity (including based on age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, and sexual orientation) that marginalize or impede the full participation of women in law and public life. EBAR’s work is focused on prioritizing WLALA’s goal of growing and serving a membership representative of the diverse community of women lawyers in Los Angeles through programs, events, scholarships, awards, public policy positions and actions that reflect WLALA’s core values of inclusivity, equity, and justice.
Financial Development (Foundation)
The primary task of the Financial Development Committee is the coordination of the Foundation’s annual summer fundraising event, “WLALAPalooza,” which takes place in June or July of each year. The Committee handles all aspects of the event, including soliciting and organizing silent auction items, obtaining opportunity drawing prizes, selecting and making all arrangements for the site and catering of the event, designing the event booklet, advertising the event, obtaining sponsors, and coordinating bid finalization, item distribution and payment operations on the day of the event.
Fran Kandel Public Interest Grant (Foundation)
The Fran Kandel Public Interest Fellowship enables law students to work with an organization or individually to develop and implement a project in the field of public interest law, in the spirit of Fran Kandel. The WLALA Kandel Fellowship is designed to fund particular projects with a tangible outcome. While not intended for purely academic research, the fellowship can support an internship with a project component.. The committee is responsible for promoting the fellowship to law students, soliciting applications, reviewing applications, interviewing finalists and selecting a candidate (s) to recommend to the Board as a grant recipient(s). Committee members volunteer to participate in some or all of these activities as they can. Even if you just have a few hours of time, we welcome your contribution to this valuable and important endeavor!
The History Project was started by WLALA Past-President Rosalyn Zakheim during her term in 1983-84. Historically focused on collecting and preserving the oral histories of our distinguished members, the WLALA History project has collected oral histories of its members for more than thirty-five years. The collection is housed at Southwestern Law School library. If you are interested in finding out more about the collection, helping to expand it, or helping us to showcase please contact us.
This Committee focuses on the career paths and needs of women practicing in corporate law departments. Women comprise roughly 15% of Fortune 500 general counsel. This Committee’s role is to help expand this statistic by mentoring women in-house and addressing the unique professional needs of women in corporate law departments. The goal is to use committee activities as a means of fostering the professional development (and network) of women in the in-house legal community so as to eventually expand the ranks of women in upper level positions in corporate law departments. The committee will initiate educational programming and networking opportunities to provide women with practical information concerning such issues as (a) how to obtain and keep an in-house counsel position; (b) how to rise through the ranks of a corporate structure to obtain coveted leadership positions; and (c) how to navigate a corporate law department structure , whether large or small. To that end, the committee will leverage the expertise of women general counsel in the Los Angeles area, as well as others in the legal community to create a space where women can maintain a dialogue about in-house counsel careers, balance and advancement.
Makes recommendations on how WLALA should invest excess funds.
Co-Chairs: Connie Chen (email@example.com), Mia Munro (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Jacquiline Wagner (email@example.com)
Labor & Employment
The focus of WLALA’s new labor and employment law committee is on providing continuing education to attorneys regarding developments in labor and employment law, exploring effective strategies aimed at resolving disputes between employees and employers and fostering a rich networking community for employment law practitioners of all levels of experience.
Law Student Mentoring
The mission of the Law Student Mentoring Committee is to encourage and facilitate the establishment and maintenance of mentor relationships between lawyers and law students. WLALA lawyer members looking for a simple and rewarding way to help WLALA promote the full participation of women in the legal profession need look no further — contact us and volunteer to act as a mentor to a promising woman law student. Likewise, our student members looking for a way to connect with and learn from women experienced in navigating the legal profession should contact us. We also visit the chapters of the Women’s Law Association at local law schools and occasionally assist in projects involving the mentoring of high school or college students. To join our committee and become involved, please contact the Committee chair.
The legislative committee presents legislative issues that affect women to the WLALA Board that WLALA should support.
Co-Chairs: Joan Kessler(firstname.lastname@example.org), Hon Magdalena Reyes-Bordeaux (Magdalena_Reyes_Bordeaux@cacb.uscourts.gov), and Susan Steinhauser (email@example.com).
Members At Large
Usually a long time board member who wants to be a part of WLALA with limited time to contribute to the board, but has institutional knowledge to help WLALA on an ad hoc basis.
Co-Chairs: Kimberly Jaimez (Kimberly.firstname.lastname@example.org), and Hon. Laura Seigle (email@example.com).
The membership committee works to enhance and diversify membership; recruiting life members, sustaining members, associate members, and student members. The committee also helps coordinate programs of interest to members, such as networking and career development panel discussions, and develops benefit opportunities for WLALA members. Additionally, membership promotes and facilitates member networking events, such as the Night at the Magic Castle. Given the social emphasis of this committee in particular, this is the perfect committee to volunteer for if you are a new member seeking to network and meet other members, or if you are simply looking to re-connect with old friends and colleagues.
Pro-Choice & Reproductive Rights
The Pro-Choice and Reproductive Rights Committee focuses on issues related to reproductive health and abortion rights. The committee meets monthly to discuss legislative, regulatory, court and other challenges to women’s reproductive freedom. We communicate with public officials, politicians and others regarding issues affecting reproductive freedom and provide supportive assistance to organizations dedicated to preserving reproductive rights. We also sponsor several events each year to raise awareness regarding reproductive rights issues. The committee hosts an annual event to raise money for the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, which provides funds for abortion and emergency contraceptive services for women of all ages, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds who are unable to pay for a safe and legal abortion. This committee is among the most active in WLALA, and we welcome new members. If you have questions about how to become involved, please contact the WLALA office.
WLALA’s Public Interest Section is devoted to advancing women in public interest law. This Section strives to provide programming and resources geared to issues of common concern to women working in public interest law. We welcome the participation of anyone interested in contributing to this Section’s work. Please contact the Section’s chair for more information.
The RBG Scholarship is given to law students who plan to follow in the footsteps of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by fighting for social justice, equality and inclusion, and have a demonstrated commitment to issues affecting women, children, minorities, or other historically marginalized groups. The committee is responsible for promoting the scholarship to law students, soliciting applications, reviewing applications, interviewing finalists and selecting a candidate (s) to recommend to the Board as a scholarship recipient(s).
Provides support and addresses issues unique to those engaged in solo or small firm practice.
The purpose of the WLALA Foundation Charitable Fund is to raise funds for the WLALA Foundation. Each year, from September 1 to January 31, the Charitable Fund runs a campaign to raise money for the Foundation. Amounts raised are used to fund the Foundation’sscholarship and fellowship programs, which include the RBG Scholarship, the Fran Kandel Public Interest Fellowship and the WLALA/ICLC Fellowship. Funds are also used to support the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, which was founded in the early 1980s by the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association and provides family law and domestic violence assistance for low-income persons in California, and the Downtown Women’s Center, which serves and empowers women experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
To contribute to this year’s Annual Giving Campaign, please CLICK HERE. If you would like to help in this year’s campaign, please contact the Committee Chair Susan Steinhauser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-Chairs: Cindy Vivanco (email@example.com),
Cynthia Organ(firstname.lastname@example.org), and Neelu Khanuja (email@example.com)
Website & Social Media
The website committee is tasked with the initial planning for the migration of the WLALA website from its current online platform to a more user friendly platform. The WLALA executive board will present a compilation of questions to the committee from time to time to seek input and direction as the migration process is undertaken. In addition, the website committee manages WLALA’s social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
This scholarship is awarded annually to a woman high school senior, who is interested in the field of law or public service, and who was inspired in this career choice by the WLALA Foundation’s Power Lunch Program, the WLALA organization, or by a WLALA leader.
Judge O’Connell, a long-time board member of WLALA, created the Power Lunch Program to provide civic education, judicial mentorship and exposure to the judicial branch to local high school students. As part of the Power Lunch Program, students visit courthouses to have lunch with judges, lawyers, courtroom staff and members of law enforcement.
The recipient of the Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell Scholarship will receive up to $5,000.
California Women Lawyers
To act as a liaison between WLALA and CWL to help facilitate communication between the two organizations.
To act as a liaison between the courts and WLALA to help facilitate communication between the two.
Patricia Fullinwider (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Taylor Wagniere (email@example.com)
LACBA Litigation Section
To act as a liaison between WLALA and LACBA to help facilitate communication between the two organizations.
Hon. Holly Fujie
(firstname.lastname@example.org), and Sherry Patterson (email@example.com)
Multi Cultural Bar Alliance
To act as a liaison between WLALA and MCBA to help facilitate communication between the two organizations.
Food from the Bar is a grass-roots campaign started in 2009 by lawyers to fight hunger in the Los Angeles community. It consists of a month-long friendly competition in the spring among law firms and legal offices in which participants contribute money, donate food, and/or volunteer time sorting and packing food at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.
The Food from the Bar program is modeled after a long-standing program in San Francisco that replenishes food bank supplies to meet the increased need for food during the summer months. When schools close for the summer, thousands of children are not able to access school breakfast and lunch programs, a critical source of nutrition, and so their families turn to the food bank for help.
WLALA is proud of the role it played in mobilizing the Los Angeles legal community as a whole to help alleviate hunger in our community, and hopes to continue to be a major player as Food from the Barexpands and grows. If you would like to be a part of Food from the Bar, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law was founded in 1982 as a joint project of WLALA and Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, Inc., and the Los Angeles County Bar Association joined as a sponsor in 1985. The Center provides assistance in family law matters to over 1,500 low income individuals each year. Among the services provided by the Center are its pro per program, which prepares individuals to represent themselves in court; free legal representation through the Pro Bono Panel; and community education and outreach. The Buhai Center liaison keeps WLALA and the Buhai Center apprised of each other’s doings and promote mutual support and coordination between the two organizations.
Inner City Law Center (Foundation)
Each year the Foundation supports one or more law students to spend 10 weeks working full-time at the Inner City Law Center. The fellow will work with ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project and spend their summer focusing on issues affecting women veterans, including clients who have been victims of military sexual trauma. The liaison works with ICLC to coordinate the WLALA/ICLC Fellowship..
Liaisons: Kelly Hanker (kelly@TL4J.com), Ji In Houck (email@example.com), and
Hon. Elaine Lu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Power Lunch Program
The Power Lunch Program is a collaboration between the Los Angeles Superior Court and the WLALA Foundation, and between the federal courts of the Central District and WLALA Foundation, which provides civics education and mentorship for high school students in under-served, high-crime, and ethnically diverse communities. As part of the Power Lunch Program, students come to courthouses to have lunch with judges, lawyers, courtroom staff and members of law enforcement. The liaison helps promote the program, obtain funding and keeps the Foundation and WLALA members informed about upcoming events.