Primerus Women Lawyers Section | Chair ColumnJuly 26, 2022 – Article
l just found out that I'm the new Chair of the Women Lawyers Section (WLS) of Primerus.
Then I found out that I'm supposed to write the introduction to the Summer 2022 edition of the Lady Justice. The theme of this edition focuses on Diversity and Inclusion. I am an educated, middleclass, white, cis-gendered woman. What do I know about diversity and inclusion?
Well, I am also an immigrant who arrived in this country when I was nine years old not speaking a word of English. My parents didn't either. We came here as refugees because apparently we were Jewish and someone in the city where we lived found out and outed us. I got beat up by a little boy. I didn't even know we were Jewish before then.
Coming to this country alone meant that we did everything on our own, depending only on ourselves. So it went. My parents got jobs. I finished high school. And then I finished college. Then law school. We finally "made it," and we were so proud because we thought we did this on our own. But did we?
I recently found out three weeks before our first post-Covid international vacation that the US Postal Office lost my son's passport. I called. I emailed. I went to the Post Office. No help at all. I didn't tell anyone at work what I was going through and finally reached my wits' end because the stress was distracting me even at work. I finally went to my partner's office and unburdened to her. Her first question was, "Why didn't you send an email around the firm to see who can help?" I stared at her. But, I do everything on my own?...Then I went to my desk and sent a desperate "can anyone help me" email to everyone at my firm. While many people responded and offered different suggestions, a brand new lawyer who hadn't even met me reached out and said, "Let's call my brother, he works in Congress, maybe he can help." So we did. And he did. And my son got a replacement passport issued the day before our flight!
Why am I telling you this? Because, the stress and drama notwithstanding, I learned that I do not do anything on my own. None of us do. We persevere and we overcome because we have networks, people who can and do help. To people who have been historically marginalized, those networks can feel exclusive, privileged, and inaccessible. It is our job to lead by example and show our colleagues, our clients, and our profession that we are there to help and support.
WLS will be hosting networking calls in September and November, as well as a meeting at the Global Conference in San Diego in October. Join. Invite someone who could use some support to join with you. Speak up and step up.
Help us grow, garner interest in attending our meetings, provide networking opportunities, and simply highlight the excellent women attorneys in the Primerus Membership.