As the Executive Committee of the Center for Women in Law, we were greatly disturbed by an article in The Daily Texan that portrays our Center in an inflammatory light. While university practice forbids us from commenting on the specific allegations and personnel matters detailed in the article, we refuse to let stand the unfair and unsubstantiated characterization of our Center as racist.
That characterization impugns the collaboration and hard work of the more than 100 women from all backgrounds and all aspects of the legal profession who started and built the Center, not to mention the many advisory members, personnel and volunteers who have helped us achieve national prominence and important change.
We take particular issue with the suggestion that the Center is one for white women only. This insults the women of color who are signatories to this letter and are leaders of our events and programs, and it is offensive to the many women of color who participate in those events and programs. Our paramount objective is working together to tear down barriers for all women — not to create even more division.
The Center was founded by women who value and embody the diversity of our profession. Our inaugural event in 2009, which we called the Power Summit, brought together leaders in the legal field from across the country. Together, we developed a document we titled “The Austin Manifesto,” a resolution to eliminate the obstacles that have held back the advancement of women in the legal profession. The more than 100 signatories to the Austin Manifesto made concrete pledges to achieve measurable goals for the advancement of women — and specifically women of color. Since then, we have worked on multiple fronts to benefit thousands of women in the law.
Our programs and events are diverse and inclusive. The now-biennial Power Summit draws hundreds of enthusiastic attendees from all over the country. Our Consortium for Advancing Women Lawyers regularly convenes 30 women’s organizations and thought leaders throughout the country, including the leadership of minority bar associations and organizations. We have specialized programs for law students and first-year associates to help them build platforms for their success. Our annual Women in Law Institute has served hundreds of law students and faculty. We provide executive-level coaching for dozens of in-house attorneys.
Last year, the Center conducted a major research project, in conjunction with the National Association for Law Placement, “How Career Opportunities for Women of Color are Shaped in Law School,” and we have supported efforts by the American Bar Association and National Bar Association to end unfair practices and lawyer misconduct directed to women and minorities.
We do all of this because we want every woman in the law to succeed.
We have been thoughtful and intentional about inclusion in our leadership. One-third of the members of our Executive Committee are women of color, all of them proven leaders of Fortune 10 companies and a top U.S. law firm. We know that the future of the legal profession depends on having leadership that reflects the diversity of our nation.
We deeply regret that anyone has had negative experiences in the Center. We take the allegations of the three women in The Daily Texan article seriously and are pained by the experiences they describe. No one should ever feel unwelcome, mistreated or unheard at the Center for Women in Law, and racist words or behavior are always, absolutely unacceptable, period.
We are listening intently to what the women are describing, and we will improve and innovate.
We feel compelled, however, to state unequivocally that during the course of our many years of working closely with the Center, we have never experienced or observed any racist conduct, only a passion for progress and inclusion. We know dozens of women of all backgrounds who have loved their experiences at the Center for Women in Law and who have cherished the mentorship they received from the Center’s leadership. These are women who believe that the skills they learned from the Center and the friendships made at the Center have improved their lives professionally and personally.
We are proud of what we have accomplished and the positive impact we have had on the lives of women in the law. We are eager to achieve even more. As we build on the foundation of the last 10 years, we welcome everyone who has an interest in our mission to join us.
- Linda Broocks
- Susan Blount
- Hilda Contrerás Galvan
- Lisa Atlas Genecov
- Marcy Hogan Greer
- Cisselon Nichols Hurd
- Cathy Lamboley
- Janis Loegering
- Sandra Phillips Rogers