By Raychelle Tasher • February 03, 2015•Ms. JD, Conference
Ms. JD will be honoring exceptional attorneys in connection with our annual Conference, Stronger Together, which will take place March 5-6, 2015 in San Francisco, California. You can purchase tickets for the conference and the cocktail awards reception here.
We were overwhelmed by this year’s nominees. The Conference Committee had a difficult time deciding which amazing women and men to honor. On that note, we are pleased to announce the Ms. JD Conference Award Honorees and give you a preview of their stories.
Women of Inspiration Award - The Woman of Inspiration Award was designed to go to a woman who, regardless of her practice area or type of practice, inspires others by her commitment and passion to her work. This award was also available to law students who are not practicing yet but have shown commitment and passion to an issue they care about. There were three Women of Inspiration Awards available and the honorees are:
Kate Kimpel: Katherine M. Kimpel is a member of Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP’s Executive Board and is the Managing Partner of the Washington, D.C. Office of SHK, a national law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York and California. She received her law degree from Yale Law School in 2006. Ms. Kimpel serves as Lead Counsel in numerous class action and individual gender and race discrimination matters. Ms. Kimpel routinely represents women at the highest levels in their fields, representing Senior HR executives, COO's, General Counsel and attorneys, and has been successful in negotiating exit packages and transitional plans that allow careers to proceed smoothly.
Angelica Kang: Angelica Kang is a Paralegal at New York Legal Assistance Group and also a J.D. candidate at Fordham University School of Law. The support for Angelica was overwhelming and deservingly so. While maintaining a full-time job and attending law school, Angelica has remained dedicated to public service and excelled in leadership roles. Angelica has been active and valued member of MSJDN, an organization that addresses issues facing attorneys with military spouses, and also the Stein Scholars Program for Public Interest at Fordham, a group selected through a competitive application process. Previously, Angelica spent two years with the Peace Corps in Senegal.
Cometria Cooper: Assistant Director Cometria Cooper, a 2009 alum of the School of Law, counsels students and alumni on their career options. Prior to joining USF, Cometria was a solo practitioner in the East Bay, where she represented clients in real estate and housing, contract, and product liability matters. During her legal career, Cometria served as an attorney member of the California State Bar Committee of Bar Examiners and participated in the regulation of applicants to the California State Bar. She currently serves as a board member for the California Association of Black Lawyers, the Charles Houston Bar Association, and the NAACP. Through her professional experiences, Cometria has built lasting relationships with judges, attorneys, and law students, and has programmed events to foster connections and mentorships between all three. Cometria holds a B.A. in U.S. History and Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her J.D. from USF in 2009, where she was an Academic Support Program participant.
Road Less Traveled Award - The Road Less Traveled Award was designed to go to a woman who is using her J.D. in a unique, non-traditional, way to pursue an issue or cause that she is passionate about. The nominees need not be in legal practice.
Cara Tuttle Bell: Cara completed her J.D. at Vanderbilt University in 2003 and her Master of Arts in Womens and Gender Studies at the University of Louisville in 2006. Since that time, she has put her legal training to use advocating for women in a variety of ways in multiple, significant roles. Currently, Cara Tuttle Bell is the Director of the Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response at Vanderbilt University. In this role she leads the Vanderbilt campus in providing victim assistance and reducing power based personal violence by creating and implementing programs and policies, coordinating programming, conducting training, developing victim services, providing accessible reporting methods, and engaging in additional endeavors ensuring equitable treatment of Vanderbilt students.
Sharing her Passion – The Sharing her Passion award was designed to go to a woman who has practiced for more than ten years who is inspiring younger women lawyers through sponsorship, mentorship, and sharing her passion for the practice.
Susan Smith Blakely: Susan Smith Blakely is a lawyer, an author and a motivational speaker. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, with distinction, and Georgetown University Law Center, where she taught legal research and writing in a fellowship program, and she is admitted to practice before the courts in both Virginia and the District of Columbia. After 25 years as a private practice attorney, Ms. Blakely left law practice to found LegalPerspectives LLC, the umbrella company for her writing, speaking and coaching on topics related to women lawyers. As a practicing lawyer, a public sector chief of staff, and more recently a business entrepreneur, she understands the challenges of both law and business, especially for women.
Her first book, Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2009), focuses on the low retention rates for women lawyers and the special impediments for women in law practice, including the work-life struggle and competing in a male-dominated profession. The book promotes personal definitions of success and provides advice and insight from over 60 lawyers and judges throughout the country.
Her second book, Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today’s Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2012), digs deeper into the work-life struggle and proposes a new and more realistic balance to help young women lawyers remain in the profession. The book includes profiles of twelve impressive women lawyers, who successfully transitioned from large law firms to alternative practices. Ms. Blakely’s third book, which explores leadership from the top of law firms and law organizations to benefit women lawyers and increase retention rates, will be published by Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers in 2015.
Ms. Blakely speaks on the subjects addressed in her books at undergraduate universities and colleges, law schools, law firms, law organizations, and women’s business groups throughout the country, and she also provides individual and group counseling. She is a member of the CoachSource career counseling network, and she also is a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.
Ms. Blakely lives in Virginia outside of Washington, DC with her husband, Bill, who is a partner in a national law firm. They have two children. Their daughter is a lawyer, who completed a federal court clerkship and recently joined the Manhattan office of a national law firm, and their son is a second-year law student at American University Washington College of Law. Ms. Blakely’s experiences and perspectives as a professional, a wife, and a mother, who experienced work-life challenges throughout her career, are instructive for both women and men alike, and she welcomes the opportunity to work with professionals regardless of gender.
Ms. Blakely can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and more information about her experience, her books and her speaking appearances can be found on her YouTube channel “Susan Smith Blakely” at www.youtube.com and on her web site at www.bestfriendsatthebar.com, which includes a daily blog and a monthly newsletter. In addition to her books, Ms. Blakely has published in law journals on issues of constitutional and statutory law and in media publications for law and business. Ms. Blakely has been active on issues of equality and women’s rights all of her adult life, and she has mentored young lawyers throughout her career.
For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.
Women's Strength in Numbers Award - The Women's Strength in Numbers Award was designed to honor two or more women who have partnered with one another to create a unique program, business, or organization. The group may include men and the success need not be in legal practice.
On Ramp Fellowship: The Fellowship is a re-entry platform that matches experienced lawyers returning to the profession with law firms for a one-year, paid training contract. This unique experiential learning program gives returning women lawyers – many of whom have opted out of the legal field for a period of time to raise children – an opportunity to demonstrate their value in the marketplace while also increasing their experience, skills, and legal contacts. The goal of the Fellowship is to replenish the talent pipeline in law firms with experienced women lawyers who have the potential and the desire to advance into leadership roles. Law firms that participate in the Fellowship gain access to an untapped group of experienced, diverse lawyers who want to return to the profession but face unique challenges due to the law firms’ lockstep structure. To facilitate successful Fellowship placements, applicants are rigorously screened and matched with firms based on cultural fit (i.e., the values of the lawyer match the values of the firm) and the lawyer success traits that are essential for advancement. If selected for the Fellowship, the returning lawyers are also provided career-development support through: (1) unlimited access to online CLE; (2) training by specialists in negotiations, business development, and leadership; and (3) one-on-one coaching by the most reputable legal-career experts in the profession.
Tim Initiative – The Tim Initiative award was designed to go to a man who is an active champion for women’s advancement in the legal profession. Ms. JD launched The Incredible Men (TIM) Initiative in 2014 to celebrate men who not only value equality and diversity in the profession, but earnestly and enthusiastically support women and women’s initiatives.
William Slicker: William Slicker is a civil practice solo practitioner in St. Petersburg, Florida who has been repeatedly lauded for his community service work, including representing battered women. If you are looking for inspiration, please take a moment to read more details about William
Congratulate the Honorees! Ms. JD is pleased to offer two opportunities to tell the honorees congratulations! You or your organization may purchase a Slide or a Congratulations Card. Powerpoint slides, which your organization designs, will display throughout the cocktail hour portion of the awards ceremony. Congratulations cards offer a personal way of saying congratulations. Congratulations cards will be incorporated into the décor for the event and all cards that specifically mention a particular honoree's name will be presented to the honoree as a memento of their award. To purchase a Slide or Congratulations Card, please click here. Please note the deadline to purchase Slides and Congratulations Cards is 12:01 AM on February 28th.