From its inception in 1914, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s equality. We were instrumental in passing the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote 101 years ago, and we’ve been relentless ever since. This bar year is no exception.
We joined forces with 28 women bar associations across the country to write an amicus brief on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, where the U.S. Supreme Court has the occasion to overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. Our brief argues strongly that the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional and should be struck down by Roe and Casey, and that stare decisis and reliance dictate this result. The Supreme Court set oral argument on December 1. We partnered with the Appellate Lawyers Association to present a panel called The Supreme Court and the Future of Abortion on November 16, to explain the issues and how we can advocate on the appellate level.
We also have our sights on paid family leave. We are committed to Illinois becoming the 9th state to pass parental leave legislation, which is crucial in ensuring women stay in the workforce and achieve parity with their male counterparts. We reactivated WILpower—a political action committee standing for “Women in Law Power”—to hire a lobbyist to give us a seat at the table not only in Springfield but on the federal level in Washington, D.C., for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
To advance this important issue we are presenting a panel of legislators, business owners and advocates like U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky and Dentons Managing Partner Leah Bruno on December 15.
We are also excited to announce the new class of Top Women Leaders the Law in an online reception on December 9. We created the award in recognition that while women have made strides in leadership roles like making partner, numbers remain stagnant and do not reflect the proportion of women practicing law. Over the years we interviewed these women leaders to ask why that is. They all articulated one vital principle: flexibility. Flexibility at home in the form of supportive partners so they can be at work when they need to be, and flexibility at work in the form of understanding superiors, so they could be at home when they need to be.
We call on superiors to provide that flexibility at work. Before COVID, it might derail a woman from the partnership track to ask for a flexible work schedule, like working from home part-time. This past year has shown us that even in litigation, we can be productive from home. We ask the decision makers to consider retaining flexible work from home policies even after COVID is over.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you for your continued membership and support of our organization. Our strong, exciting start to the bar year is only gaining momentum. How can you be a part of it?
WBAI President 2021-2022