President's Message - May 2019
by Kim Berg, Esq.
Did you know your WWBA membership expires on May 31, 2019? Please keep an eye out for your membership renewal letter or simply log in to the website at wwbany.org to renew your membership for 2019-2020 which I can guarantee will be a fantastic year of growth and impact for the WWBA. You will certainly get the benefit of a host of diverse programs, CLEs, knowledgeable panels, and fun networking events under the steadfast leadership of incoming President Angela Morcone Giannini and the recently elected Executive Officers. Congratulations to all of those who will continue to steer this ship forward advancing our mission as a women’s bar association which is certainly relevant now more than ever.
There are so many benefits to being a WWBA member, including our uniquely supportive members who never cease to amaze me with how much they are willing to do to lend a helping hand to their colleagues, to serve on a panel for a CLE or other program, and even to volunteering their time as a mentor to a law student. Our Women in Professional Transition program, which meets the first Friday of every month, is a perfect example of the support and assistance that our members not only contribute but receive from this amazing group of people.
I have spent some time this past month reflecting on my year as President of the WWBA. While I already knew how important the WWBA was to me on an individual level, both personally and professionally, I have now witnessed how important it is to all of our members for a host of reasons that certainly may vary from member to member. What benefits can we all recognize from our WWBA membership?
As attorneys we need to continually expand our business and client portfolio. This is true regardless of gender and whether you practice as a solo practitioner, partner, associate, or in an of counsel capacity. The WWBA has been a tremendous source of referrals for all of those who are active in the organization. Next time you receive a call from an individual or business with a legal issue beyond your area of practice, consider referring to another WWBA member. How will you know to whom you should make a referral? Simply look on our website under membership and you can search by name, firm or practice area. Or ask another WWBA member and they will likely know the answer. The WWBA is certainly loyal to our fellow members.
By being members of the WWBA, we also garner the benefit, year after year, of obtaining inexpensive CLE credits, including those required Diversity and Inclusion and Ethics credits, from the informative, well-staffed and very diverse CLE courses we offer focusing on practical skills and numerous substantive areas of law.
But it is not “all work and no play” here at the WWBA. We continued to expand our networking and “fun” and events where we can unwind and put a little work life balance back in our lives.
For me this past year, I have found the newly formed mentor program to be a paramount reason why membership in the WWBA is so important. Serving as a mentor, hearing the positive feedback from those who participated in the program, and seeing the results trickle down to those mentees who were able to find internships or employment as a result is truly priceless.
In devoting much time and energy into this newly formed mentor program I have learned how important our unique, supportive, intelligent and diverse group of members are to our law student members. I also know that these new law student members are critically important to the future of the WWBA.
I recently had the privilege of attending our April 4, 2019 General Membership Meeting: “A Town Hall with Women Leaders in Politics.” The program was an open and frank discussion with the panelists about their very different journeys in the political realm. The WWBA was privileged to hear from Hon. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York State Senator/Senate Majority Leader, Hon. Shelley Mayer, New York States Senator, and Hon. Catalina Cruz, New York Assemblywoman at this very well attended program.
In response to a question about mentoring, each of the panelists spoke about how they benefitted time and time again from the mentors and role models who impacted them along their path to and in elected office. The common thread was that by having mentors along their journey they were able to overcome obstacles and were exposed to opportunities that may not have otherwise presented themselves without a mentor. The mentors about whom they spoke ranged from parents or family members, to colleagues, and even their fellow panelists.
Based on a question that has been asked to me many times over the past year, and although I already knew the answer, I asked the panel why if women are making inroads today to obtaining leadership and elected positions, do we still need a women’s bar association? To no surprise the answer was a resounding “yes”.
Senator Shelley Mayer imparted her thoughts at length – which in my opinion were right on point: women face unique issues, both in their professional careers and in their personal lives. While both men and women chase the elusive “work life balance,” issues unique to women such as pregnancy and the fact that responsibilities of child rearing, caring for elderly parents, and other family related responsibilities tend to disproportionately fall on women, we have to learn to balance imperfectly. Having colleagues to share stories with who face work life balance struggles similar to ours helps us to remind ourselves that it is okay to “balance imperfectly” and that both physical and mental self-care is critically important. I know my friends and colleagues in the WWBA have been there to hear me “vent” about the often elusive work life balance and their compassion and advice has always been sound. Furthermore, although inroads have been made there are still many hurdles and obstacles to true equality and the gender pay gap still exists.
Most, if not all successful people, can attribute their success to having at least one mentor in our lives. At this time of year, with Spring upon us let it remind us of a time for new beginnings and new growth. Why not this year consider fostering someone else’s path to success? I ask you to sign up as a mentor to one of the over 50 law students that are still each to have a WWBA mentor. With Spring being a time for new beginnings and growth, think also about how you can expand your network, knowledge, and maybe have a little fun by attending one of the many events on the calendar for May and June.
The WWBA Annual Dinner and Installation of Officers is always a great opportunity to leave work behind, network and have fun. Save the date for our Annual Dinner on June 12, 2019 at the Mamaroneck Yacht and Beach starting at 5:30 p.m. I look forward to seeing you there as I pass the proverbial torch to Angela Morcone Giannini and her team of Executive Officers: President-Elect Hon. Lisa Margaret Smith; Vice Presidents Amanda Fried, Jennifer Gray, and Jacqueline Hattar; Treasurer Natanya Briendel; Corresponding Secretary Jennifer Robinson; and Recording Secretary Elizabeth Marcus.