Why did you join the WBA?
I initially got involved with the WBA by attending the Holiday Tea, which was organized by the WBA Communications Law Forum. I was seven years out of law school and had just left the government to return to a firm. I looked around the room at this amazing group of strong women lawyers from government and the private sector, and I knew I needed to be part of the organization.
What benefits has your membership brought you?
There are two voluntary bar associations that play an integral role in my professional – and personal – life.
One is the Federal Communications Bar Association, where I currently serve as President. The FCBA is the space where I have “grown up” as a legal and policy professional. Each time I have moved jobs or expanded my practice to incorporate a new area of law or policy, the FCBA has been there to provide education, support, and connections. We are a close-knit bar, and while it’s been challenging, it has also been my great honor to lead the organization over this past pandemic year. We have focused on creative programming and fundraising, expressly addressing issues such as mental health and systemic racism, and leveraging the virtual platform to better connect members in the DC area and the FCBA’s 11 chapters around the country. I cannot believe my entire FCBA presidential year will have been virtual, and sometimes that makes me very sad, but I am proud of how we’ve stepped up and not just survived this year but thrived.
The other key voluntary bar for me is of course the WBA. I would say there have been three main benefits for me, especially in these past several years that I’ve been serving on the Board. First, through the WBA, I’ve met role models and friends with whom I have much in common as a woman lawyer but who are not part of the tech/media/telecom bar like me. It is refreshing to be exposed to a broad range of practice areas and to make connections that aren’t necessarily shared by 20 other lawyers at my firm (a regulatory boutique). Second, I’ve learned so much about the importance and effectiveness of leadership by women, particularly women lawyers. Because of the WBA, I felt confident proposing to establish a Women’s Initiative at my firm. And because of the WBA, when I connected with several other lawyers who are also moms at the height of the 2018 family separation crisis, I had the courage to start a new nonprofit organization with them to advocate and fundraise for migrant children and families (and was recognized as a WBA Star of the Bar award for this effort). The current and past leadership of the WBA is fiercely impressive and sends a clear message that women are and should be leaders. Third, the WBA doesn’t just talk the talk but also walks the walk when it comes to fighting systemic racism, bigotry, and inciteful speech and promoting diversity and equity. Working collaboratively with my fellow Board members on statements, participating in candid conversations through the WBA anti-racism toolkit, and just hearing from other leaders about their experiences that are different from mine have all made a profound impact on me.
Why do you think others should join?
To me, the question is, Why NOT join? We all know that women lawyers deal with pay inequity, there are far fewer women than men as equity partners at law firms, we are light years away from being proportionately represented in Congress, women get passed over for C-Suite positions, and more. Becoming part of an association where you connect with other women lawyers makes all of us stronger and gives us strength to advocate for women in our own workplaces. There are programs to help women looking for jobs and programs on a variety of substantive topics. All of it is a compelling and important value proposition for women lawyers (and law students).
What are you doing professionally and/or excited about now that I could feature?
In 2019, after 20 years of law practice, I did a partial career pivot and split my role at the firm. I remain a partner with client-facing responsibilities. But I also hold an administrative position as the firm’s very first Director of Social Responsibility. In this role, I lead the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, enhance and support our pro bono program, and help coordinate our community engagement efforts in our DC and Denver offices. In some ways, it’s been like learning a whole new career, but it’s been worth it to feel like I can contribute to the firm, the community, the legal profession, and the tech/media/telecom sector in ways that matter.