Promoting a theme of vision, empowerment and impact, UCLA School of Law’s fast-growing organization of women lawyers convened for the 2019 UCLA Law Women LEAD Summit on March 1.
Roughly 400 people, including UCLA Law alumnae and current and prospective students, gathered in the Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library, where they participated in panels and presentations featuring leading female professionals in the law, business, academia and government. The summit included alumnae from 49 different UCLA Law class years and from 140 different organizations.
“Women make up more than half of law school students today, so let’s take advantage of this rising tide,” said Kirkland & Ellis partner Tanya Greene ’09 in her introductory remarks. “We cannot wait another 200 years for someone else to do this for us: Let’s each be the catalyst for the change that we want to see for women in the legal profession.”
Tanya Greene ’09
Featured changemakers included Margarita Paláu Hernández ’85, the U.S. Representative to the 73rd U.N. General Assembly; L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl; Pulitzer Prize winner Joann Lublin, author of the book Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World; California State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles); UCLA Law Dean Emerita Rachel Moran, who co-founded the UCLA Law Women LEAD network; Interpol general counsel Mary Rodriguez ’88; and Lionsgate Television Group President Sandra Stern ’79.
“I think every single person in this audience should run for office,” Kuehl said during a panel on why the moment is right for women to campaign for and serve in government at the local, state or national level. “Don’t let anything get in your way — especially not yourself.”
Other plenary discussions focused on leadership initiatives that impact women and youth around the world, projecting confidence in communication, driving equality for women of color in the law, and key traits of successful female corporate executives. Additional breakout sessions offered insight into courtroom practice, board membership, in-house counsel practice, artificial intelligence, negotiation and transactional legal work.
In the day’s marquee event, UCLA Law alumna Judge Dorothy Nelson ’53 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit discussed her many decades at the pinnacle of the legal profession. A member of UCLA Law’s second graduating class, Nelson was the first woman to serve as the dean of a major American law school and one of the first women to be appointed to a federal appeals court.
Judge Dorothy Nelson ’53
She was introduced by two of her former clerks who are now members of the UCLA Law faculty — Cara Horowitz ’01, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Co-Executive Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and Professor Laura Gómez — and spoke in conversation with UCLA Law Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin.
Nelson advised attendees, “When you wake up in the morning, bring yourself to account: ‘Am I doing something that is going to contribute to my community and to my life?’”
She shared her approaches to judging, the law and leadership, which are guided by principles that she derived from her membership in the Baha’i Faith and that she applied as founder of the Western Justice Center, which advocates peaceful conflict resolution. Nelson also talked about how she has harnessed her “instincts as a woman,” including serving cookies in business meetings, to blaze a trail to success.
“Don’t give up being a woman,” she said. “Women should have equal opportunity, equal education, equal pay. But they have separate and unique qualities that must be brought to the table.”
Paul Hastings partner Nancy Abell ’79 organized and co-chaired the event with Horowitz and Maggie Levy ’75, a mediator and arbitrator with ADR Services. Current students Benita Yu ’19 and Allyne Andrade e Silva LL.M. ’19 emceed the summit.
UCLA Law Women LEAD was founded in 2015 to create a lifelong network of alumnae who strive to promote leadership, empowerment, advancement and distinction in the legal profession. Abell co-chairs the network with BarkerGilmore senior advisor Michelle Banks ’88. The signature alumnae group has grown to include more than 1,900 women from throughout the UCLA Law community.