The Moment is Now

By Susan L. Harper

The past two years have ushered in a historic period for women and our country.

Women are claiming their power and a new era in women’s rights has arrived.

Following the largest women’s march in the history of the world in January 2017, women with the support of other women – and armed with new communication channels – have organized, amplified their voice, leveraged their power at the ballot box, and shed sunlight on #MeToo workplaces.

No longer satisfied to sit along the sidelines and accept the status quo, women are setting their own course to take their seat at the table in order to have a say in the issues that impact their lives and work. From pay equity to paid leave, work-life balance, career advancement, and constitutional gender equality, women more than ever are placing themselves front and center and embracing their moment.

Exercising such power has altered our country’s institutions and empowered women from all points on the political spectrum. Our new freshman U.S. Congress is more diverse and has more female legislators than ever before. Workplace issues such as sexual harassment, which many have silently endured, are in the forefront of our national conversations and thoughts. New laws have been passed and legislation introduced to support women as workers and breadwinners for families.

As members of the bar, we are in unique position to lead, advocate and use our power individually and collectively to support this transformative moment and to be in the forefront of the development and implementation of innovative ideas, policy and legislative reforms and work- place solutions that will help women.

Thanks to the leadership of President Michael Miller, President-Elect Hank Greenberg, the NYSBA Executive Committee and the House of Delegates, the State Bar Association is doing just that.

NYSBA affirmed our request last June to convert our 50-person Committee on Women in the Law to what is now the full-fledged Women in Law Section with 615 members as of this writing. NYSBA members – both women and men – now have more opportunities than ever before to be part of the solution and the change they want to see for women in our profession and society.

The mission of the Women in Law section is to be an active voice and catalyst for change to advance opportunities for women in the legal profession and for all women under the law. More than a dozen committees have been developed within the Section to achieve this: Annual Meeting, Awards & Programming, Champions: Men Advancing Women, Communications, Equity in the Legal Profession, Gender Issues, General Counsels, Partners, Legislative Affairs, Membership and Engagement, Reports, Surveys and Publications, Sponsorship, Women in the Association, and Emerging Lawyers.

The concerns we will take on are not new to us. We have been in the forefront of issues impacting women – including pay equity, paid family leave, salary disclosures, women’s health care, child care, legal representation, sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and female prisoners’ rights, to name a few – for many years.

We seek to secure your seat at the table, whether that seat is in a law firm, deal room, courtroom or legislative table.

The gender gap persists. Barriers for women lawyers exist. However, we stand at this unique moment to come together to lead and use our advocacy powers to expand opportunities and support equality in our profession and for all under the law.

We welcome your participation.

The moment is here. The taking is yours. Your seat at the table awaits you. Take it.

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