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Lawyers Club of San Diego: Fostering leaders, promoting community involvement

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Lawyers Club of San Diego has developed into a leading bar association in San Diego County due to its leadership, community involvement and unique programming opportunities.

Fostering leadership among the ranks of women attorneys is one of Lawyers Club's greatest accomplishments. The past president list of Lawyers Club is a veritable "who's who" of San Diego's political, academic and judicial leaders.

This power list begins with Judith McConnell, a Justice on the Fourth District Court of Appeals of California. McConnell, a founding member of Lawyers Club, became its first president, serving from 1972 to 1974. She was followed by another San Diego powerhouse, Lynn Schenk. She served as president of Lawyers Club from 1974 to 1975, as a U.S. Congresswoman from 1993 to 1995, and also served as chief of staff to former California Gov. Gray Davis.

Notably, Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego's district attorney, served as president of Lawyers Club from 1984 to 1985. Dumanis, who was also a Superior Court judge before her election to lead the District Attorney's Office, is still an active member.

Earlier this year, past President Katy Bacal fell a few months short of completing her year-long term due to her judicial appointment to the Superior Court. In fact, of the 36 past presidents of Lawyers Club, 13 are current or retired judges or judicial commissioners.

Lawyers Club has its own Judicial Endorsements Committee, which is responsible for evaluating and endorsing judicial candidates. An endorsement is key for any applicant because the committee further assists endorsed candidates in the appointment process.

Lawyers Club of San Diego is also dedicated to community service. Some of Lawyers Club's most active members belong to the Community Outreach and Special Projects Committee, which strives to improve the lives and status of women and children in San Diego. With a focus on hands-on projects, this committee of Lawyers Club oversees a twice yearly Read-In with Central Elementary School. Attorney volunteers are recruited to read, interact, promote literacy and serve as role models to young students. Other past special projects have included: building an outdoor play-therapy area for child victims of domestic violence, creating an inspirational outdoor Literacy Garden at Central Elementary, and creating a library and improving living conditions for pregnant teens at Sisters by Choice. Michele Macosky and Jennifer Hansen lead this committee and are chiefly responsible for organizing and overseeing Lawyers Club's community outreach.

Lawyers Club is also one of several sponsors of the annual Women's Resource Fair, an event that organizes lawyers, doctors, social service workers, shelter and housing consultants, battered women's agencies and other services and professionals at a one-day event. Co-Chaired by Nicole Cooper and Cynthia Morgan, the event provides various resources in a single location to assist homeless and battered women for medical, social and mental health services.

What makes Lawyers Club's membership roles robust and enviable is the unique programming and networking activities for its members. Recently, Lawyers Club's Diverse Women's Task Force (DWTF) sponsored a professional coaching seminar, featuring sought after coaches in an intimate setting. The DWTF is led by Co-Chairs Stacie Patterson, who also serves as secretary on the board of directors, and Rachel Cano, a former board director. Patterson and Cano lead the DWTF in its mission to resolve and raise awareness regarding the particular challenges that women of color, as double minorities, continue to face in the legal profession, particularly in San Diego.

Lawyers Club also signed up as a team to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in November of this year. Many of Lawyers Club's most successful fundraising events benefit the Fund For Justice, which makes charitable grants to deserving San Diego nonprofits and causes. Currently led by David Baxter Norris and Andria Catalano, the Fund for Justice has enjoyed enormous success and partnerships with numerous San Diego County nonprofit legal and community organizations.

Other unique programming include: nationally recognized speakers at monthly luncheons, including Lawyers Club's upcoming luncheon with San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; work-life balance summits; and co-sponsoring with California Women Lawyers on the "So You Want to Be a Judge" seminar.

The formula for Lawyers Club's success is excellence in leadership, community and member services. Lawyers Club of San Diego's Web site can be found at: www.lawyersclubsandiego.com.


Bermudez, Esq., is the current president of Lawyers Club of San Diego.

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