NNWLA and WCBA Luncheon Event with Judge Drakulich on September 12th
NNWLA and the WCBA are co-hosting a lunch time discussion with Judge Kathleen Draklulich on September 12th at noon at the Harrah’s Convention Center. The price is $25 for a NNWLA or WCBA member and $30 for non-members. 1 hour CLE credit pending approval. RSVP by September 10th at www.wcbar.org or by calling (775) 786-4494.
Mix and Mingle with the Judiciary
Please save Monday, October 22, 2018, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. for a CLE event with some of our local female judges and justices. The event will be held at the UNR Innevation Center, located near downtown at 450 Sinclair Street. This will not be your typical panel type discussion. We are mixing it up and doing this as a speed dating type of event where attendees will be able to discuss practice tips with each judge in small groups before moving onto the next table and next judge. Have your questions answered by Justice Lidia Stiglich, Judge Dixie Grossman, Judge Lynne Simons, Magistrate Judge Carla Carry, and Commissioner Robin Wright! This is a unique opportunity to get your questions answered and meet with our judges in an intimate setting. We hope you save the date and will plan to join us!
Save the Date for Our November Event
We will be hosting an Ethics and Substance Abuse CLE on November 16, 2018 at noon with Nevada Supreme Court Justice Cherry. More details will be provided on our website and in the next NNWLA blog. CLE is pending approval.
Celebrating 40 Years of Leading Lady Lawyers
Below please find some photos from our Garden Party on August 16th 2018. We hope everyone that attended had a wonderful time! Please join us in thanking Judge Simons and Mark Simons for hosing this event.
Thank you to all of the NNWLA past presidents who were able to attend our event.
U.S. Magistrate Judge and 1999 NNWLA President Valerie Cooke Shares Memories of NNWLA
I have many wonderful memories of my association with NNWLA since I was admitted to practice in 1983 — thirty-five years ago. The friendships and professional ties I made through NNWLA have been so rewarding and enriching. Here are some anecdotes I recall.
In the early 1980s, it was NNWLA custom to sponsor a party for all new admittees. This was a wonderful way to meet the new women attorneys and give them moral support, since in those days, the numbers of women lawyers were still fairly small. This was the era of "dressing for success," which meant women tried to look like their male colleagues: gray, navy blue or black suits, sensible pumps, tailored shirts, and the coup de grace — the floppy bow tie. Women lawyers were told to "be a guy," to fit in, which meant reading the sports page ("How 'bout those ?" (fill in the blank)), and to avoid colors like red, purple, and pastels, but especially pink.
I recall attending the 1984 new admittees reception at the Stremmel Art Gallery, since I brought as my guest my newborn daughter, Brinn. I sensed this might not be the politically correct thing to do, but I did it anyway, and when I was NNWLA president in 1990, I made it a point to provide child care for NNWLA members for our evening meetings.
In the 1980s, male lawyers were generally mystified at women lawyers and uncertain how to behave, although there were also the types who just loved to post the Sports illustrated swimsuit calendar in the coffee room. In those days, we had more power than we first realized, but later used that to our advantage in many ways.
1987, when Linda Bowman was president of NNWLA, was the year of the ABOTA debacle and one of NNWLA's shining hours. Justice Deborah Agosti and United States Magistrate Judge Phyllis Halsey Atkins decided not to accept an invitation to an ABOTA dinner after they realized that there was not one woman attorney among its members. Moreover, several of the recently inducted male members didn't qualify for membership because they lacked the requisite number of jury trials, but got invited anyway. We knew of one woman who did — Margo Piscevich, but she was black-balled from the group. This made us mad.... I remember the evening meeting at Linda's home when we decided enough was enough. That said, there were some members of NNWLA who counseled, "To get along, you have to go along," but those on the side of taking a stand won the day. Several of the male lawyers at my firm clearly disapproved of my activities, and it was a comfort to have the quiet support of men like David Hagen.
Justice Agosti was a particular heroine to all of us because she put her judicial career on the line to make this important statement about de facto gender discrimination in all-male professional groups. Many of us were terrified to challenge our male colleagues, partners, or superiors, but we mustered the courage anyway, thanks to the leadership of these two courageous women. Our ,small local protest drew newspaper and television coverage, and ultimately resulted in a national inquiry from ABOTA headquarters. Sadly, the ranks of women in ABOTA are still small, in part because there are so few civil jury trials nowadays, and that is the basis for qualifying for membership.
Another memory was the first reception to honor as Outstanding Woman Lawyer our beloved Charlotte Hunter Arley who was a pioneer for women, the poor, and the lost causes in our community. We held the reception at the home of Patty Becker and Spike Wilson. Charlotte was simply enchanted to be honored. I also remember meeting Deborah Schumacher's new baby daughter, Christine, that evening. She was just a few weeks old, and I was heartened to see that we were all bringing our babies to these celebrations.
These years for me were challenging, as I had two babies and a full time law practice. It was interesting to observe how other women coped with this juggling act, and we did our best to support one another. There was such a sense of camaraderie among all of us, whether we were married, single, had children or did not, whether we practiced in law firms or in the public sector. There was a special sense of connection with one another, which sustained me through many challenges, both personally and professionally.
To give a flavor of the times, this story is telling. Before the birth of my second daughter in 1987, my name was brought up for partnership. One of the partners suggested deferring it for another year with the comment, "Let's see how she does with this next baby." I didn't make partner until: the next year, although my male counterpart not only made partner two years ahead of me, but billed 190 hours the month his child was born. This was no doubt a miracle. Such was law practice in this era, and if you said too much, there were consequences in a law firm. Women had to walk the tightrope of advancing themselves professionally without being pushed off and crashing in the process.
It was also in the late 1980s or early 1990s that the local newspaper wrote an article about women lawyers in our community. I was interviewed, and I spoke frankly about how difficult it was to balance work and family, especially not having a wife at home to make life simpler. I talked about the focus on billable hours and how women with families were especially undercut in making partner, getting salary raises, and advancing under the crush of such difficult competing demands. Several of my less supportive partners were furious when the article appeared in the paper, and I recall one of them commenting that he had received a call from a man in another law firm who thought my comments were bad for business — as in my firm's business. Of course, that firm had routinely driven out its token women associates and to this day, has only a small cadre of women attorneys.
During my tenure as NNWLA president in 1990, my daughters were six and three years old, and I had made partner at my law firm, having "done well enough" with the second baby. It was the year of Question 7, which was the referendum on Nevada's ballot to codify Roe v. Wade into state law. The vast majority of women lawyers fully support Question 7, but mindful of a vocal minority in opposition, we decided to sponsor a televised forum where we would have people from all points of view discuss the issue. It was held at the National Judicial College, and Mary Boetsch was the moderator. If anyone could keep people in line, it was Mary. The panel consisted of a Catholic priest, a pro-choice Methodist minister, two physicians, and lawyers representing differing points of view. There were at least 200 people in attendance, and it was truly a thoughtful debate. Question 7 passed, and NNWLA felt as though it had made great strides in public service to the community.
Another highlight for NNLWA was the year that so many women achieved prominence in the State of Nevada. I think it was 1992.... Frankie Sue Del Papa was attorney general, Dorothy Nash Holmes was the first woman elected Washoe County District Attorney, and Washoe County had three women district judges: Deborah Agosti, Connie Steinheimer, and Robin Wright. Others firsts during this era: Kathryn Landreth was named Nevada's first United States Attorney, and Johnnie Rawlinson was the first woman and African* American appointed to the United States District Court. Judge Rawlinson was later appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where she continues to serve. Of course, another huge milestone for Nevada women in the law occurred in 1994 when Miriam Shearing was the first woman elected to the Nevada Supreme Court.
In 2018 and in the future, it is so critical for younger women lawyers to understand that these events did not simply occur in a vacuum. They occurred because women networked among themselves, enlisting the help of enlightened, supportive men, as well as non-lawyers in the state, to advance women in the legal profession. In doing so, NNWLA made Nevada history, and it is my hope that NNWLA continues to do so in the years to come.
Warmest wishes to all past and present members of NNWLA on the fourtiety anniversary of a group that has, indeed, made history for women in our state.
Valerie P. Cooke
United States Magistrate Judge
District of Nevada
U.S. Magistrate Open Position
Women as Changemakers