Susan Smith Blakely

The Dilemma Surrounding the July 2020 Bar Exams

The pandemic has caused a multitude of problems for our world and our country. Some of them involve life and death issues, and, certainly, nothing compares to those. Others involve economic issues like business closings, bankruptsy filings, struggles to feed families and pay the rent and issues surrounding school closings. Still others involve interference with important highly anticipated events involving families and friends, which have had to be cancelled or rescheduled, and the list goes on and on. Concerns about an entire generation of young people, Generation Z, whose members have experienced gratification postponement and the effects of isolation that…

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Techlegality: Where Do We Go from Here?

In the midst of arguably the biggest social movement of my generation, conversations surrounding inclusion have become increasingly prevalent. This unprecedented atmosphere of change has required me to engage in dialogues with colleagues and associates about what it truly means to cultivate environments (professional, social, etc.) that properly encompass the experiences of people of color and other marginalized groups. The overwhelming truth is that the recent happenings are not isolated events. Everyday, people of color are faced with the responsibility of figuring out how to navigate their daily lives with the implications of their existence as minorities. This interplay between…

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Am I wearing too many hats? Learning how to juggle it all: CHANGE.

June 24, 2020 was my first day back in the courtroom since March 13, 2020. As I walked to the courthouse, I saw my client across the street as he yelled “Ms. Ellison, Ms. Ellison, wait up! Wait for me!” Honestly, I instantly felt apprehensive due to COVID-19. How will I greet him? Sometimes I start with a handshake or a fist bump, coupled with a smile. How will I tell him to stay six feet apart from me? Will he be offended? What are his thoughts about the pandemic? Is he taking it seriously? Yes, these are thoughts that ran through…

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The Benefits of Voluntary Bar Associations: A Q and A with Nicole Del Rio

We hear about the importance of being involved in different organizations all the time. While this column focuses on connection, I want to remind all the young lady lawyers out there that yes, it is ok to take a step back if you have to rethink how you spend your time. You will not gain anything out of participation in a voluntary bar association if you are stretched too thin. Joining a voluntary bar association can be incredibly rewarding for lady lawyers. To offer a young lady lawyer’s perspective, I’ve asked some questions from Nicole Del Rio, Staff Attorney at…

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Desiree Goff

Medical Malpractice and Litigation - Being a “Phenom”

We have focused on several different areas of law which intersect with science and technology. However, we haven’t spent any time discussing one of the more patently obvious areas - medical malpractice. This area of law practice relies heavily on litigation and trial work, which women are frequently steered away from. However, studies are showing that the women that do make it into the courtroom routinely outperform their male colleagues. These women are termed “phenoms” for their ability to get past the double glass ceiling. They work harder to get into the field and then fight to get into the…

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The Influencers: The Judge was a Lady

Last fall, Harris County, Texas accomplished a singular feat when it voted onto the bench 17 African-American women, joining two black women already serving. It made news, and the 19 women call themselves “Black Girl Magic”. I should say so. It got me to thinking about how long people of color, particularly female people of color have been actively serving as judges in this country. I love pioneers and trailblazers, especially the ones who have to overcome the objections of naysayers and bigots to achieve their goals. In this column I’ve celebrated many firsts: the first woman lawyer, the first women…

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To Plead or Not to Plead

Curious, I looked in the dictionary for the definition of a plea.  If it’s unrelated to “law” it is, “a request made in an urgent and emotional manner”. If the definition of “plea” is related to law, a plea is defined as, “a formal statement by or on behalf of a defendant or prisoner, stating guilt or innocence in response to a charge, offering an allegation of fact, or claiming that a point of law should apply”. I contend that a realistic definition of a plea agreement in our criminal justice system falls between these two definitions.   To argue that succumbing to a plea…

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Meet Our 2020 Public Interest Scholarship Recipients!

Please join us in congratulating our 2020 Public Interest Scholarship recipients! Ms. JD is thrilled to continue our support of women pursuing public interest careers and soften the burden faced by folks who accept public interest internships, which are often unpaid.   All three of our scholarship recipients were selected from a large pool of highly competitive applicants. Ms. JD appreciates the level of passion and personal conviction that was exhibited in the application pool, and we are thrilled to support these students in their pursuit of public interest careers. Astrid Diaz "This scholarship will allow me to pursue a public interest internship…

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It’s time to be vocal about our values

Have you ever engaged in a conversation where things were said that went deeply against your values, yet for some reason or another you chose to stay silent? It happened to the best of us. You could hear these past weeks many times the Angela Davis quote that “it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist”. I have to admit, although I’ve never considered myself racially biased, I haven’t exactly been actively anti-racist either. And I know many of us were educated and informed enough to know that those horrible things were happening to BIPOC people, yet…

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Everything is Reproductive Justice - Formerly Known As (Part II)

Dear Leigh,      How do you break up with someone? The same way you break up with your favorite business or even an idea. Remember when you were an adult education teacher in Washington, DC and taught the Declaration of Independence (“DOI”) as if it were a breakup letter? If you analyze the DOI as a break up letter, the DOI provides a break up letter template that begins with the idea that breakups should be done with respect and transparency:   “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected…

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