Chicago Coalition Connects

October 22, 2020
In Honor of RBG

Dear Chicago Chapter Members,

This edition of the CCC is dedicated to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard amazing stories from our members about RBG, and have thought a lot about how she’s meant so much to so many. I fondly remembered our Chapter’s movie outings in the recent years to watch her documentary On the Basis of Sex, and recalled the women attorneys from my firm going together to see RBG speak about her book, My Own Words. I was inspired reading the dedication to RBG that Mehtap Cevher Conti, the New York Chapter president, wrote in our recently published National NewsletterAnd I loved seeing this picture from our member Avanti Bakane’s (Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani) dinner with RBG in DC:
Amazing, right?! This week, we all can look forward to hearing about RBG’s work with the ACLU through our screening of the movie, The Fight, and the first portion of our 2020 National Leadership Forum featuring the ACLU’s President Susan Herman (tonight!).
This past weekend, my dearest friends Sarah Zielinski (McGuire Woods), Sepideh Smith (CDW) and I took our daughters – four of them collectively! – to see the RBG exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum. (If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, I highly recommend it!) Looking at the displays, I remembered myself watching the RBG confirmation hearing and speeches in 1993, shortly after my family came to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union.  To an outsider Jewish immigrant kid -- and at around the same age as my daughter is now, RBG was the ultimate superhero and inspiration. Now watching our girls learn about and react to her story, I can see RBG is inspiring a whole new generation of strong and brave female leaders. What a legacy!

I’ll end on this recent anecdote, in RBG’s honor: I recently had the unfortunate, but not uncommon, experience for women lawyers, of being on the other side of a case of a disrespectful opposing counsel. He is an older white male. In an e-mail apparently intended for his co-counsel, but on which he inadvertently cc’d me, the senior associate working with me on the case and the court clerk, this attorney referred to me twice using a derogatory nickname and stated that he was purposefully delaying filing certain responses. Our judge, a woman, asked me to please recommend a resource or two to help educate opposing counsel on civility and issues women have faced in our profession. This was right around the time that RBG passed away. Long story short, opposing counsel has been ordered to read, and to certify to the Court having read, RBG’s book, My Own Words, and, for good measure, the 2019 NALP Diversity Survey as well. I think this should be a good educational experience for him!

Please read on to learn about our exciting Chicago Chapter happenings, and for our own Emily Fess’ Member Spotlight – and, if you haven’t yet, please be sure to register for our National Leadership Forum!

Have a wonderful rest of the week, and stay well,
Chicago Coalition Chapter President
Chicago Chapter Happenings
Last Saturday was the perfect fall day for our first Coalition Charity "Duathlon"-- a walk, run or ride 5K to benefit the nonprofit Bottom Line. We started out by getting motivated together during a virtual Zoom warm-up, then participants ran, walked, or biked (both outside and on Pelotons!) all for a great cause. Thanks so much to all who participated and contributed to the work of this amazing organization, which helps high school kids who grow up in low-income communities, or are first-generation immigrants, get into and successfully complete college. Thanks to our Treasurer Stephanie Jones (Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani) for this great pic!
On September 23rd, the Associates Committee presented an informative, engaging program focused on Virtual Performance Reviews and the New Normal, featuring Sonia Menon (Chief Operating Officer of Neal Gerber & Eisenberg) and Christina O. Alabi (Assistant General Counsel / Vice President of JPMorgan Chase & Co.). The panelists shared their experiences facilitating performance reviews and offered insight on how attorneys can confidently prepare for this novel process.
And on October 1, following the theme of finding success in a post-Covid recovery world, the Community Outreach Committee proudly presented the Coalition's annual student event, How to Land a Job in Law During a Global Pandemic, co-sponsored by the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Panel speakers included Emily Fess (Senior Associate General Counsel / Senior Employment Counsel at Rush University Medical Center), Avanti Bakane (Partner, Gordon & Rees - Commercial Litigation, and Privacy, Data & Cybersecurity), Malaika Tyson (Shareholder, McAndrews Held), Maria Maras (Senior Intellectual Property Counsel, Accenture), and Maya Ganguly (Assistant General Counsel at Illinois State Treasurer), and offered practical tips for navigating a career path in the legal field during challenging times. Participants had a chance to network in small breakout sessions and engage with mentors and Coalition members.
2020 National Leadership Forum
Have you gotten your pre-party package? I have! The Chicago Chapter portion of the 2020 National Leadership Forum is just two weeks away! Coming up on Thursday, November 5, at 5:30 pm, it will be a night to come together, honor those who uplift and inspire us, and celebrate our achievements during this challenging year -- and we are most excited to welcome keynote speaker Kailei Carr, host of the acclaimed podcast Beyond the Business Suit. Many thanks to the tireless efforts of Jennifer Kraft (Seyfarth Shaw) and Kim Metrick (Walgreens) of our Leadership Forum Committee for planning the Forum, and to Emer Simic (Green Griffith & Borg Green), Emily Fess (Rush) and Tulsi Gaonkar (Bartlit Beck) of our Community Outreach Committee for selecting our inspiring award winners. 

Remember, the Forum is open to all attorneys at our member firms and companies – and, with the remote format, please feel free to invite female attorneys in other markets as we look to expand our organization to new cities. Register today!
Member Spotlight
Emily Fess
Senior Associate General Counsel / Senior Employment Counsel at Rush University Medical Center

Why did you join the Coalition?

I joined the Coalition to meet other women attorneys and expand my network. I was particularly excited about meeting other junior and associate attorneys and to participate in the brown bags.

What committees are you active on?

I am co-chair of the Community Outreach Committee. Our purpose is to celebrate the many accomplishments of Coalition members and help get members credentialed to increase their marketability.

Give us your elevator speech… or “Call me if you have…”

I am a litigation attorney who specializes in labor and employment law. I focus primarily on employment issues such as wage and hour class cases, discrimination and harassment complaints, employee background check requirements, restrictive covenant issues, and Family Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

Tell us something interesting about you that people may not know.

I am a member of Lulu’s Locker Rescue, an animal rescue organization that focuses on saving the most underlooked animals, including black cats and dogs and senior/hospice animals.

Share your favorite book or podcast – or an at-home resource or tip you’ve found particularly helpful.

I love the book Watership Down by Richard Adams.
Quote of the Week
A good head and a good heart are
always a formidable combination. 
--Nelson Mandela