By Jeanette Acosta • February 11, 2016•Ms. JD, Careers, Nonprofits and the Public Interest, Politics and Government, Other Career Issues, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, Issues, •Mentoring and Networking, Features, Superwomen JDs and What You Can Learn From Them
Last summer, Ms. JD awarded fellowships to 13 soon-to-be third-year law students from across the country. I had the great fortune and honor of being selected as a 2015 Ms. JD Fellow. For those interested in learning more about what the Ms. JD Fellowship offers, I am writing to share a bit about my experience as a fellow thus far and encourage you to apply to this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
First, to provide some background, Ms. JD launched the Ms. JD Fellowship in 2010 in order to promote mentorship and professional development for aspiring female attorneys. In addition to being part of a cohort of inspiring law students and receiving support to attend ABA and Ms. JD events, each Ms. JD Fellow is matched with a mentor chosen from among Brent Award honorees, Spirit of Excellence Award recipients, and the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession Commissioners. In making this mentor match and through its partnership with the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, Ms. JD connects you to not only a pioneer in the legal profession, but also to one of the largest professional organizations in the world, the American Bar Association.
As fellows, you are invited and encouraged to attend the ABA annual meeting. At the 2015 ABA annual meeting in Chicago, Ms. JD made it possible for our cohort to attend the 2015 ABA Commission on Women in the Profession’s annual panel and the Brent Awards luncheon, which is where I met my Ms. JD mentor, Drucilla “Dru” Ramey. During the luncheon, I also had the opportunity to meet the 2015 Brent Awardees and leaders within the ABA, such as Judge Judith Chirlin, Executive Director of the Western Justice Center, a non-profit organization focused on promoting peaceful conflict resolution in schools and communities in my own hometown of Pasadena, California.
For me, the highlight of the fellowship has been the mentorship component. In a short period of time, my Ms. JD mentor has had a powerful impact on my life. Dru Ramey is the Chair of the Equal Rights Advocates Board of Directors and former Executive Director of the National Association of Women Judges. She also is the former Dean of Golden Gate University School of Law and a former MALDEF attorney. With an unwavering commitment to equal opportunity and access to justice for all, Dru has accomplished a great deal and continues to serve others in any way she can. As a Ms. JD mentor, she always makes herself available to chat, provide advice, and serve as a connector. One example of Dru’s willingness to connect me to others took place during the fall. I spent this past semester in Washington, D.C. and knowing that I would be in D.C. for a limited time, Dru suggested and graciously introduced me to her friend, Judge Vanessa Ruiz of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. If it were not for the Ms. JD Fellowship and Dru’s mentorship, I would not have had the special opportunity to get to know Judge Ruiz (a Brent Awardee!) and learn about her path to the bench and commitment to strengthening the judiciary.
Similar to the experience of 2010 Ms. JD Fellow, Eva Merian Spahn, Ms. JD truly does fill a gap and serves as a springboard for rising third-year law students seeking to meet leaders in the legal profession from across our nation. Ms. JD and Ms. JD mentors want you to expand your community and network, and provide you with settings and introductions to do so. I hope that you will join me as a Ms. JD Fellow and apply today!