WLALA's Executive Committee with Supervisor Holly Mitchell (from left to right): Jeannine Taylor, Noelle Natoli, Mary McKelvey, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Janet Hong, Jennie Wang VonCannon and Farah Tabibkhoei
Matters of the Mind . . . Mental Health Matters
by Mary McKelvey
Mental Health Awareness Month is recognized every year to normalize talking about mental health and mental illness and to highlight the importance of taking care of our mental wellness without shame. Mental health and mental illness are, of course, two different things. Not all people will experience a mental illness, but everyone will at some point struggle or have a challenge with their mental well-being. This month brings us a two-fold opportunity: to explore our perceptions and fears of mental illness and to recognize the need to prioritize and tend to our own mental health.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, cognitive and social well-being and affects how we feel, cope, think and act – every aspect of our lives. Good mental health is about living and coping well despite challenging situations, and there have been no shortage of these during the past few years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unique among major crises in our lifetime in that it has impacted everyone in numerable ways, including ways we are not yet aware of.
Food from the Bar Campaign Ends May 31
Here are three ways you can support LA’s Food from the Bar campaign:

1) Volunteer at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank on “Bar Association Volunteer Day” on Saturday, May 14.  Registration is easy; just a CLICK HERE away.

2) Donate – any amount – at the WLALA online giving donation page HERE or by check made payable to “Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.”  Note: Donations made online on May 4 or May 19 (the dates of WLALA Foundation and WLALA board meetings) will be matched, dollar for dollar.

3) Promote the campaign.  Register your organization or office as a Food from the Bar participant HERE. It is not too late; the Food from the Bar campaign runs through May 31. Having more firms/office participating sends the message that the LA legal community cares about the larger community and wants to be part of the solution for childhood hunger.  Share the word about Food from the Bar; check out the Food from the Bar Facebook page HERE.

For more information about childhood hunger in Los Angeles County – which has the highest number of hungry children than any other county in the country – see lafoodbank.org.  Every $1 donated translates into four meals that the Food Bank can provide.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please reach out to WLALA’s Food from the Bar liaison, Kathleen M. McDowell, at 213-683-9134 or kathleen.mcdowell@mto.com.
Breaking Out and Rising Up: Stories from Female Trailblazers in Their Pursuit of Justice
Presented by WLALA's Criminal Justice Section
2022 WLALA/ICLC Fellows
Esmeralda Verdin
Karla Luviano
Karen Herrera
The WLALA Foundation is thrilled to welcome Esmeralda Verdin, Karla Luviano, and Karen Herrera to its 2022 fellowship class.

For the fifth consecutive year, the WLALA Foundation is sponsoring ten-week summer fellowships at the Inner City Law Center ("ICLC") for students with a demonstrated interest in public interest law. This year’s WLALA/ICLC fellowsKarla Luviano, a rising 2L at Southwestern Law School, and Esmeralda Verdin, a rising 3L at Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Lawhave long evidenced a commitment to representing the underserved. Karla’s life experiences have guided her passion for serving others, particularly women from underrepresented backgrounds. This passion led her to organize an annual Latina Youth Leadership Conference at UCLA, which has counseled more than 100 young women on obtaining professional degrees and successfully overcoming educational and professional barriers in male-dominated spaces. She is the 1L Section Representative for the Southwestern Latino Law Student Association, a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar and a recipient of the Wildman/Schumacher Entering Scholarship. Esmeralda, a staunch defender of human rights, has clerked for both the Immigrant Defenders Law Center and the Human Rights First organization. She is deeply committed to addressing systemic issues that create barriers to stable lives for low-income individuals and minorities and aspires to use the law creatively and meaningfully to have a positive impact on the most vulnerable members of our society. Esmeralda is treasurer of the National Latinx Law Student Association, a member of the Advocates for Public Interest Law, and a Faculty Scholar.

For the first time ever, the WLALA Foundation partnered with Southwestern Law School to create the Southwestern/WLALA Social Justice Fellowship. The very first recipient, Karen Herrera, a rising 2L at Southwestern, has been deeply committed to immigrant advocacy since childhood and has dedicated her personal and professional time to fighting for immigrant causes. Prior to law school, Karen worked at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) where she assisted undocumented persons who were victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking apply for immigration relief. Because of her outstanding work and extensive experience, the Department of Justice certified her as an accredited representative, allowing her to assist individuals and families who would not otherwise be able to afford such services with immigration and naturalization matters, including representation before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State.

Esmeralda and Karen will spend ten weeks this summer with ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project, where they will focus on issues affecting women veterans, including those who have been victims of military sexual trauma. Karla will spend her summer with the Preventing and Ending Homelessness Project at ICLC, where she will address a variety of legal issues that create barriers to stable housing.
 The 2022 Beacon of Justice Award Gala
On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, the Friends of The Los Angeles County Law Library honored Justice Luis Lavin and Hon. Margaret Morrow (Ret.) by presenting both with the 2022 Beacon of Justice Award.
Pictured at left are Susan Steinhauser, Trustee of the Los Angeles County Law Library and Co-Chair, Charitable Fund WLALA Foundation; and Brigit G. Alvarez, Senior Attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Co-Chair, Charitable Fund WLALA Foundation
On the right is the cover of the Daily Journal from Oct. 7, 1993, congratulating Hon. Margaret Morrow (Ret.), the first woman President of the California State Bar. Also pictured is the WLALA Ernestine Stahlhut Award given to Judge Morrow, “a woman of the legal profession who has attained the respect, admiration and affection of the Bench and Bar by her outstanding character, her dedication to service and her significant contributions to the cause of justice; a person who has challenged women in our profession to excel, and who has been an encouragement to young women in our society to seek the law as a profession.”
Treasured mementos of Justice Luis A. Lavin, Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, featuring a photo of Justice Lavin at his second birthday party in Cuba, a photo of his parents enjoying a night out in Cuba, and the 1985 Harvard Women’s Law Journal reflecting service as a Comments Editor. Justice Lavin’s family left Cuba in 1961 when his father became a political prisoner and his mother sought refuge in the Spanish embassy in La Havana – the family later reunited in the Bronx.
Congratulations to WLALA Board Member Hon. Maria Byrum who was appointed as a judge to the Los Angeles Superior Court!
On May 1, 2022, the Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) honored WLALA's Immediate Past President Jessica Kronstadt at its annual gala, which is entitled "Wonder Women: A Gala to Honor Leading Women of Los Angeles." Congratulations on this honor, Jessica!
Congratulations to WLALA Board Member Julie R. F. Gerchik for being Recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal to be one of its “Women of Influence.”
Welcome to Our New Members
Patricia Alberts
Jacqueline Aleu
Angelika Avagian
Moorisha Bey
Jean Phan Buchanan
Macy Chan
Kelsey Dayton
Erika Gonzalez
Sabrina Jaber
Ireland Larsen
Minyong Kim Lee
Julia Levitskaia
Sophie Nelson
Carolyn Park
Shetera Patterson
Louretta Randell
Allison Rubinfield
Joanna Sanchez
Channing Smith
Tammy Sumontha
Considering A New Career? Five Dynamic Women Shared Their Experiences
by Amy Thomas Brantly
On March 22, 2022, the Career Development and Life Balance Committee and the Business Law Section of WLALA partnered to present an amazing panel of women who shared their experiences moving from a more traditional legal position to explore different passions. The speakers included Hon. Kimberley Baker Guillemet, Los Angeles Superior Court judge, author, and motivational speaker; Julie Cramer, a professor at UCLA School of Law; Chidinma Ume, Interim Director of Policy at the Center for Court Innovation; Daphne Subar, entrepreneur and founder of Subarzsweets, LLC; and Noelani Walser, Senior Director of Associate Talent for Morgan Lewis. Each panelist discussed why she decided to transition to a new career, what inspired them to make a change, and provided advice for others who are interested in making a similar change.

Judge Guillemet discussed her love of writing and what prompted her to write Black Prep: Life Lessons of a Perpetual Outsider. Judge Guillemet also encouraged anyone interested in exploring a judicial appointment to do so, even if they don’t have a traditional litigation background. Ms. Cramer discussed her desire to teach and how much she enjoys working with students on a daily basis as well as her work as co-director of the Criminal Defense Clinic, which is a live-client clinic representing indigent defendants in state and federal trials and post-conviction relief. Ms. Subar explained her passion for baking and how her daughter challenged her to explore her true passions even though it was a giant leap away from her work at a law firm as a civil litigator. Ms. Ume discussed moving from being a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to policy work, both for the New York Mayor’s Office and in her current position providing assistance on criminal justice policy in the areas of jail reduction, pretrial release, and alternatives to incarceration. And, Ms. Walser explained why she moved from litigation to professional development coaching and how the personal connections she makes energize her.

Listening to these women discuss how much they enjoy their careers and how they maneuvered into their current positions was both inspiring and educational. They explained that change doesn’t necessarily have to come as a result of a leap of faith but rather can result from taking incremental steps to help ease both the work involved in a transition and the feelings involved in moving to something new. They also discussed how transferable legal skills are and how your resume should highlight those transferable skills which can be used in any new career.

This program highlighted both the importance of pursing your passion and being strategic in how you get there. I hope that all who attended enjoyed the program as much as I did and that those who could not attend, but wanted to, can take a little something away from this synopsis.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
If you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Fiammetta Piazza
Fiammetta Piazza’s path to being a transactional associate at Polsinelli LLP is as circuitous as it is interesting. A dual citizen of Italy and the U.S., Fiammetta was born and raised in Italy while spending extensive time in the U.S. After graduating high school, she decided not to continue on her path as a professional ballet dancer and moved to Milan where she attended Bocconi University School of Law. Upon graduating, she and her family moved to Los Angeles permanently and Fiammetta earned an LLM from UCLA and a JD from Loyola Law School. 

Fiammetta, whose name means “little flame," has put her three law degrees to good use by bringing her unique perspective to bear for her clients. Encouraged to apply by her colleague and WLALA President Mary McKelvey, Fiammetta joined the board of WLALA to expand her network and become involved in an organization she believes in. She loves meeting new people and having the opportunity to reach out to her contacts and make new ones in order to put on programs for WLALA’s Business Development Committee. She also maintains her ties to the dance world and serves on the board of Heidi Duckler Dance company. We are so pleased to have you on WLALA’s Board, Fiammetta!
CWL Presents: Celebrating Ourselves and the Women of the Supreme Court
On April 7, 2022, the Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to become the 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Of the 116 justices to serve on the Supreme Court, all but seven have been white men. Six of these individuals have been women: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. These women are a small minority of the justices that have served on the highest court in the country, but they have nonetheless contributed to the Supreme Court in their own, unique ways. Sandra was the first woman, Ruth the first Jewish woman, Sonia the first Latina, and Ketanji is the first African American woman.

Please join us for a frank discussion of our past, present and future of the court. MCLE credit offered.
JALBCA's Monthly Breast Cancer Support Group
Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert ("JALBCA") is pleased to announce that it has established a Support Group for legal professionals and their loved ones who have been touched by breast cancer. The group will meet by Zoom from 6-7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. Upcoming Support Group meetings will be on May 5, 2022, and June 2, 2022.

Please join us to share your experiences and feelings in an inclusive and confidential environment with JALBCA members and other legal professionals and their loved ones who recently have been diagnosed with breast cancer and/or are breast cancer survivors and/or have otherwise been touched by breast cancer.
NLSLA's Music for Justice
Local Bar Calendar
Career Center
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 Webinar Recordings
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.
iDepo will make a donation to WLALA if you schedule a court reporting or videotaped deposition with them as follows:

  • $20 donation to WLALA for each court reporting services of at least 100 pages per day.
  • $50 donation to WLALA for each videotaped deposition with at least 100 pages per day.

When scheduling, please email or call and mention code "WLALA." 
Email Calendar@iDepoReporters.com or call 323-393-3768. 

iDepo will send donations to WLALA within 90 days after receipt of payment of invoices.
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.
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