WLALA Event: Gender Bias in the Courtroom - January 19, 2024
WLALA Event: Women Supporting Women in Law: Advocates Note Adversaries - February 15, 2024
WLALA Foundation Pro Bono Clinic: Tenant Power Toolkit Clinic with Inner City Law Center - January 2024
Photos: WLALA Holiday Party and Judicial Reception
Photos: Swearing-In Ceremony
Photos: DWC Holiday Cooking Club
WLALA Foundation Board of Governors Member - Morvarid "Mory" Ahmadi
WLALA Board of Governors Member - Sherry William
Announcement: WLALA Board of Governors Member - Twila White
Announcement: WLALA Second Vice President/Treasurer - Jennie Wang VonCannon
Announcement: WLALA Board of Governors Member - Mia Munro
Volunteer Spotlight on Kelly Hanker - by Ji-In Houck
How WLALA Led Me to The Legal Department Podcast - by Stacy Bratcher
Welcome New Members!
Local Bar Calendar
2024 WLALA/ICLC Fellowship - Applications due January 5, 2024
2024 Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell Scholarship for High School Women -Applications due April 30, 2024
Contribute to the WLALA Newsletter - Deadline is January 31, 2024
"For both men and women the first step in getting power is to become visible to others, and then to put on an impressive show... As women achieve power, the barriers will fall. As society sees what women can do, as WOMEN see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we’ll all be better off for it.”
-- Sandra Day O'Connor
Welcome to 2024 – a year brimming with possibilities to showcase your greatness! In 2023, we honored trailblazers such as Nancy Pelosi and Sandra Day O'Connor, celebrated judiciary excellence at WLALA's Holiday Soiree and Judicial Reception, and welcomed a new wave of legal talent at our New Bar Passer Ceremony. As we embark on a new year, it is the perfect moment to set audacious goals that will not only challenge us but also inspire the generations to come. Let's embrace the possibilities ahead and make this year one of significant achievements and positive impact.
As a mother, my ambition is fueled by the inevitable impact I have on my daughters. Their eyes are on me, learning from my example, and this is my motivation to show up and lead. Let the stories of trailblazers like Sandra Day O'Connor guide you. Despite facing rejection from 40 firms due to her gender, she emerged as the first woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Her story encourages us to embrace leadership without waiting for a formal invitation.
Nancy Pelosi is another trailblazer, marking a significant impact during her 19-year tenure as the first female and longest-serving head of the Democratic party in the chamber. Throughout her congressional career, she shattered barriers by becoming the first female House minority whip in 2001, the first female minority leader in 2002, and the first female speaker of the House in 2007. When confronted with questions about overcoming gender biases, Pelosi stressed the importance of immediate action, stating, "You can't wait. You don't wait. I didn't ask anyone's permission to run. I just ran.” Her journey underscores the power of bold and proactive leadership in challenging traditional norms.
In 2024, WLALA encourages you to draw inspiration from the legacies of remarkable women such as Sandra Day O'Connor and Nancy Pelosi. Let their stories motivate you to exceed perceived limitations and be a catalyst for the success of the next generation. Now is the time to step into bold leadership with confidence and determination.
In your service,
WLALA Foundation Message
Happy New Year! Around the new year, my mom, sister, niece, daughter and I each choose a word to guide the incoming year. The word of the year, an alternative to a new year's resolution, reverberates through our actions during the year. Brainstorming a word with my young daughter is the most fun. In 2023, after much consideration, she chose “sparkle,” while the rest of us selected other lofty refrains — reset, prioritize, and intentional.
As I search for my 2024 word, I also reflect back on all I am grateful for in 2023. Recently I have been particularly thankful for supporters of the WLALA Foundation Charitable Fund Campaign at the $6,000 level. Donors at this level can name a scholarship for the 2024 award season. These donors include Susan Steinhauser, long time WLALA Foundation Board member, attorney, and civic activist. Susan donated in honor of Judge Arnold H. Gold (ret.), a past president of the Los Angeles County Law Library and a distinguished probate judge and scholar. The Han-Kavounas Family Foundation, through Chung Han, Deputy Chief of the Civil Division at the US Attorney’s Office, made a donation after being inspired by the WLALA Awards and Installation Gala. Kathleen McDowell, a WLALA Past President and litigation partner, combined forces with Munger, Tolles & Olson, to support a named scholarship. Each of these donations will support the award of a WLALA Foundation Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg scholarship, allowing public interest law students to sparkle like the stars they are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. (Inspired? WLALA Foundation invites additional donations as we aim to meet our $40,000 goal in January.)
As busy lawyers, I hope you, too, will find moments to reflect and refuel, whether it be with a word of the day, new year’s resolution, or through laughter with family or friends. And may your 2024 sparkle.
WLALA Foundation President
Help us reach our goal for WLALA Foundation’s Charitable Fund Campaign!
We are 67% of the way to our goal of raising $40,000 by January 31. Together, we can support public interest students and empower the future of the legal profession.
Help us reach our goal with a one time or recurring contribution to the WLALA Foundation by clicking here: wlala.org/give.
All donations directly fund WLALA’s programs and projects, including:
We thank you for your contributions and willingness to speak with your employer about supporting the WLALA Foundation during this critical time. Named scholarships are available for a $6,000 donation. WLALA Foundation’s support of public interest minded students impacts not only these promising students but also the Los Angeles community.
Major kudos to First Vice President Farah Tabibkhoei for organizing this fantastic event! And our gratitude to the event sponsors: Dominium Law, APC, FTI Consulting, SYLG Attorneys at Law and VERTITEXT Legal Solutions!
Thank you to Hon. Laura Seigle for organizing this joint sister bar event to warmly welcome our new members of the California bar. It was such a special event for all the attendees!
DWC Holiday Cooking Club
WLALA Foundation volunteers worked together to prepare a meal for 150 women in need at the Downtown Women’s Center and serve them lunch on December 16, 2023. Stay tuned for another Cooking Club opportunity in the Spring. Volunteers from left to right: Vicky Ourfalian, Katherine Kehr, Andrea Maehara, Jennifer Leland, Julie Shapiro, Hon. Michelle DeCasas, Satereh Soroush
WLALA Foundation Board of Governors Member
Morvarid "Mory" Ahmadi
Why did you become involved with WLALA?
"It is an opportunity to give back to the community that has given me so much. Without the female trailblazers, attorneys and judges, who took the time out of their busy schedules to mentor me, I would not be the attorney I am today."
What does WLALA mean to you?
"Giving back. I love that we have mentorships for in the form of the power lunches for high school students within the organization for members. I also appreciate that we have scholarships for high school, college, and law students."
Morvarid “Mory” Ahmadi is a senior trial attorney in the Los Angeles office of The Barnes Firm. Prior to joining The Barnes Firm, Mory spent a decade running her own practice. Over the course of her career, she has represented thousands of individuals in personal injury cases, including auto and motorcycle accidents, dog bites, and slip and falls, among other matters.
Having grown up in Southern California, Mory’s passion is helping people in her community who have been hurt. For every individual she represents, she takes time to understand the client’s needs and formulate a case-specific strategy to achieve the best possible outcome, whether by resolving it out of court or litigating the claim through trial.
Mory graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a B.A. in Psychology, and received her J.D. from Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law. While at Chapman, Ms. Ahmadi authored several articles in the Chapman Law Magazine and was a founding member of the Iranian Law Students’ Association.
Mory is the first lawyer to have served as President of both the Iranian American Bar Association (Orange County Chapter) and the Iranian American Lawyers Association. She remains an active member of those organizations, in addition to The Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), and the Banyard Inns of Court. She is a graduate of the CAALA Plaintiff Trial Academy, and has been featured in Attorney at Law Magazine.
WLALA Board of Governors Member
"I became involved with WLALA because it is a special medium for female attorneys and their allies to build personal and professional relationships in support of the multifaceted aspect of our lives. WLALA events always include meeting old friends and making new ones."
Sherry William is the principal and founder of Pacific Ivy Law Group, a transactional practice founded in 2020. Ms. William obtained her law degree from Harvard Law School in 2010 and her Bachelors degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of California Los Angeles in 2006.
Ms. William provides legal, business and strategic advice to companies of all sizes, individuals, governments, and financial institutions, domestically and internationally. Prior to launching Pacific Ivy Law Group, Ms. William represented clients in corporate and finance matters in the New York offices of Dewey LeBoeuf and Freshfields and the Los Angeles office of Morrison & Foerster. Ms. William was a summer associate at Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu in Tokyo, one of the most highly regarded law firms in Japan. She has also advised the Egyptian government on amendments to Egyptian corporate law and was a secondee at UBS in their prime brokerage division.
Ms. William is active in her community. In addition to her role in WLALA, she serves as President of the Harvard Law School Association of Los Angeles, President of the League of Egyptian American Professionals, and a member of the worldwide Executive Committee of the Harvard Law School Association.
She is fluent in Arabic and conversant in Spanish, is licensed to practice law in California and New York and holds a real estate broker license in both California and New York.
Ms. William her spouse and two daughters reside in Pasadena, California.
Mia Munro has been made partner at Genie Harrison Law Firm, one of Los Angeles’ top-rated law firms representing employees and survivors of sex abuse in employment and civil rights litigation.
Mia exclusively represents employees and individuals in civil rights legal matters. She has been recognized as a top 500 Leading Civil Rights and Plaintiff Employment Lawyer in the US by Lawdragon and as a Southern California Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine.
Please join me in congratulating WLALA Board of Governors Member Mia Munro!
We don’t often reflect on the origin story of our careers, but earlier this year, I returned to the year 2000 in my interview with former WLALA board member, M.C. Sungaila for the Portia Project Podcast. That year, I left my home state of Missouri with my new husband and set off for a new life as a lawyer in Los Angeles. When I spoke with M.C. about this experience 20+ years later, for the first time in my life, I realized what a bold move this had been. I had left a place where I spent all of my life, where I attended law school and had built the beginnings of a professional network to move to a city of 11 million people (where I knew no one) to start a career as a lawyer.
M.C. was equally surprised by my boldness and asked about how I made the transition when I had no connections in the legal community. Without hesitation, I told her that so much of my success in meeting new friends, colleagues and building a community was through my involvement with WLALA. I joined WLALA almost immediately after landing in LA and started attending events and met some amazing women. I served on a couple committees and after a few years, the amazing Dominique Shelton asked me to join the board as the chair of the membership committee during her term as president.
These connections continue to serve me 20+ years later. M.C. and I hadn’t seen each other for years after having served several terms together on the WLALA board, but I reached out to her seeking advice about a legal issue she had posted about on LinkedIn. We reconnected and she invited me to be a guest on her amazing podcast, “The Portia Project” that highlights careers of women lawyers and judges. Afterwards, I asked her about how she started the show and what she got out of it. Podcasting seemed like a lot of work, why was she doing it? Her answer surprised me.
Among other things, she said that her connections with guests were “exponential,” deep and meaningful even after a short conversation. That was the spark I needed. I was hungry for connection after moving my family to Santa Barbara on a COVID-impulse. Don’t get me wrong, Santa Barbara is lovely…one cannot really complain. But somehow, I felt like I was back in 2000, moving to a new place with no friends or professional network but this time without WLALA to help me build it. M.C.’s words stayed with me and I slowly started creating my own podcast, “The Legal Department.”
People ask me all the time why I started a podcast. I have a busy general counsel job, a family with two kids and plenty of demands on my time. I spent many months thinking about my “why” and kept landing on the same three words: learn, connect and grow.
My goal for The Legal Department podcast is to create a space to explore topics that are on every lawyer’s desk in an easy, conversational format. We tackle technical issues like AI and governance, and legal operations, but also explore my favorite topic--our own professional development. Again, WLALA has provided a deep well of connection for me. In addition to M.C., two other WLALA members (including President Jeannine Taylor) have been guests on my show.
The Legal Department podcast has delivered exactly what M.C. said that it would and more. I now have connections with lawyers at professional sports teams, Fortune 50 companies, executive coaches and others. I have learned to be a better general counsel and leader and along the way, I have deepened the connections with WLALA that helped me get here. WLALA President Jeannine Taylor joins me on January 9 to talk about leadership development. I hope you’ll check it out. You can find The Legal Department podcast on Apple, Spotify or anywhere you get your podcasts.
UCLA’s Undergraduate Mock Trial Program seeks volunteer judges, attorneys, or law students to serve as Presiding Judges or Scoring Judges for the only two Los Angeles area collegiate mock trial tournaments of 2024. Both tournaments will be in person:
The 2024 UCLASSIC Mock Trial Invitational Tournament on January 13 -14, 2024
The 2024 Opening Round of the National Championship on March 9-10, 2024
Please read the information below and sign-up to volunteer one of two ways:
Register as a volunteer judge at the following link:
The UCLA Mock Trial Teams participate in the American Collegiate Mock Trial Association program. Over 700 teams from colleges around the nation compete by presenting the Plaintiff or Defense side of a civil or criminal case including Opening Statements, witness Direct & Cross Examinations and Closing Arguments. Students must follow the rules of evidence of the “State of Midlands” (an imaginary state that follows the Federal Rules of Evidence). Many California universities field teams at these tournaments, including UCLA, USC, Cal, Stanford, UCI, USCD, UCSB, Cal-Poly and the Claremont colleges. We will also have teams from around the United States.
2024 UCLA Tournaments Information
30 teams will compete at the January UCLASSIC Tournament in January and 24 teams who won their Regional Championship Tournaments will compete at the March tournament. The students will present the Prosecution or Defense side in the criminal case of State v. Berkeley De La Porta/Poe Cameron. (a criminal case of aggravated robbery and assault at a high- society charity gala).
We seek attorneys, judges, and law students to volunteer as presiding and/or scoring judges at the trials. We try to accommodate your preference for serving as Presiding Judge (ruling on evidence & exhibits) or Scoring Judge. You may volunteer for more than one trial. Please share this flier with other members of your firm or organization.
We strictly time the trials and trials will typically last 2.5 hours. We will provide volunteers with a link with case materials ahead of the trials. However, you need not prepare or read any documents in advance of the trials. One presiding judge (ideally should be an attorney or judge) will preside over each trial (as the bench officer overseeing the trial and making evidentiary rulings). Scoring judges evaluate and score the participants. The winning team is based on total points received from scores awarded for Openings, Closings, Examinations, and Witness Performances. We will outline these procedures at an online training session on the Thursday before each tournament (Jan. 11 or Mar. 7). There is no Pre-Trial hearing as in high school competitions.
If you volunteer, we will send you a confirmation e-mail and detailed tournament information about 2-3 weeks prior to the tournament. If you can serve as a volunteer for one or more sessions or rounds, please go to the registration link at Mock Trial Volunteer Judge Registration Link or contact Tournament Director Addison Harms at email@example.com. We appreciate your support!
Addison Harms - Tournament Director
Prof. Gonzalo Freixes - UCLA Mock Trial Faculty Advisor
WLALA needs attorney mentor volunteers since our increased presence in the legal community has led to increased participation among local law schools. WLALA's Law Student Mentoring Program pairs law student members with lawyer members to encourage and facilitate the development of women law students. Mentors and mentees are matched based on interests and background where possible. The program is flexible; mentors and mentees choose when and how to stay connected with one another, whether through e-mail, telephone, in-person meet ups, or a combination. Many participants find that the one-on-one mentoring relationship becomes a long-term friendship.
WLALA Needs Volunteers For Committees, Sections and Liaisons
Did you know that WLALA is run almost entirely by volunteers? If you're interested in participating in WLALA Committees, Sections or acting as a Liaison, visit our website to find out more and sign up now!
Did you know that your WLALA membership allows you to access our exclusive Career Center? The Career Center has employment opportunities ranging from non-profit organizations to government employers to law firms.
WLALA webinars have been recorded and are available for purchase. Following your purchase, access to the recording will be sent via email. If MCLE credit applies, the materials will be sent after we receive confirmation that the video has been viewed.
If you are interested in contributing an article or sharing member news, please reach out to Communications Officer Leana Taing at WLALA.firstname.lastname@example.org Everyone loves to read about accomplishments, appointments, and promotions! Also, please do not forget to share photos or videos taken at WLALA events. We would love to share them in the newsletter and on our social media! The submission deadline for next month's newsletter is January 31, 2024.
The Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles ("WLALA") promotes the full participation in the legal profession of women lawyers and judges from diverse perspectives and racial and ethnic backgrounds, maintains the integrity of our legal system by advocating principles of fairness and equality, and improves the status of women by supporting their exercise of equal rights, equal representation, and reproductive choice.