Dear Members, Prospective Members, & Friends of the Nassau County Women’s Bar,
I am excited and honored to serve as President of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association (NCWBA) for the 2019-2020 year, and would like to personally extend a warm welcome to our new members and warm welcome back to our returning members this year.
First, I am personally honored to lead such an incredible organization that has advanced the status of women in society and in the legal profession. I want to begin this message reminding our members, especially those who have just recently began their journey as a female attorney, how hard women have had to fight just to simply practice law. There was a time when women had to work as volunteers, just as an “in” to the legal profession. There was a time when women could not even join the “men’s” bar association. There was a time when there were not even separate bathrooms for women in court houses.
Younger attorneys hear this today and think, “That’s crazy; how was that even allowed back then?” Organizations like the NCWBA and the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) have helped pave a path for women in the legal profession; so much so, in fact, that it can be hard to believe that women were so disadvantaged in the past. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that we have quite a way to go. Here are some of our statistics, our reality:
· Globally, male partners are paid 27% more than female;
· Only 23.4% of the U.S. House of Representatives and 25% of the U.S. Senate are female;
· According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 female lawyers’ Salaries were only 80% of male lawyers’ salaries; and
· For over a decade, approximately 50% of law students nationwide have been women (and law firms have recruited women as entry-level associates roughly in proportion to their representation among law school graduates), but statistics repeatedly show that these women are not reflected in the numbers of partners in those same law firms.
Now, if we do our jobs right, then in the years to come, female attorneys will hear these statistics and think, “That’s crazy; how was that even allowed back then?”
But, how? How do we get there? How did our predecessors get here from where they were then? It’s simple: By banding together, building each other up, and getting their voices heard, women in the law were able to advance the status of women and, specifically, female attorneys.
That is why, this year, our platform is simple: Empowered Women Empower Women. As women’s rights activist Mahnaz Afkhami put it, “Women's empowerment is intertwined with respect for human rights.” And it is my belief that no one woman can do it alone.
As defined by the United Nations, “[w]omen's empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality. It includes increasing a woman's sense of self-worth, her decision-making power, her access to opportunities and resources, her power and control over her own life inside and outside the home, and her ability to effect change.” These are the interests we must promote and protect.
Every woman sworn in this year, past NCWBA presidents, 2018-2020 Board Members, and all of our members are inspirational in their own right. I look forward to working with all of them this year to not only empower each other, but to empower our members. This year I am not asking that we simply stand for each other’s success, but that we demand it.
Women in the law face immense challenges, but when women get together and promote each other incredible things happen. I know we will have great success this year.
We have a wonderful year planned filled with programs, networking events, community service and mentorship opportunities, all geared toward this goal, this platform of empowerment (please visit our events page for more information). I look forward to seeing our existing members and meeting our new members throughout the year at our programs and events.
More than anything, I look forward to serving as your President.
Irene Angelakis, Esq.