On September 26, 2017, the CUA Women's Law Caucus hosted a panel discussion featuring members of the Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia entitled "Meet the WBA."
Co-President of the Women's Law Caucus Diana Alsabe (2L) introduced the panelists. Panelists included Michelle Kallen, senior associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Kerri Castellini '06, trusts and estates partner at Price Benowitz, LLP; Anna Ratner, public policy counsel at CFP Board; Roya Vasseghi, litigation attorney at Rees Broome, PC; and moderator Kate Mueting, partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP.
The panelists discussed how the WBA can assist students with professional development, mentoring, networking, and navigating life in Washington, D.C.
"The WBA plans and hosts many networking and substantive programming events. Mueting told students. "Our showcase events, such as Stars of the Bar, are a great opportunity to network with WBA leaders other people who are just getting plugged into the organization."
"With the confidence and networking skills I picked up during WBA programming, I was able to reach out to people in the right jobs and figure out where the next step for my career would be," Ratner told students.
Panelists and students also discussed what might motivate them to join the WBA such as the desire to get involved with the community or the opportunity to meet supportive women lawyers. "When I first joined I got paired in the formal mentoring program with Eileen who is on the WBA Board and does similar work. I found it so helpful to have someone who was invested in my career but was outside my organization," Mueting said.
"Being in D.C. there is a number of very high professional and successful women, notably, judges and justices. Recently, the WBA teamed up with the Supreme Court Historical Society to have a mock argument before the Supreme Court which Justice Ginsberg presided over," Kallen said.
The panelists also gave advice regarding maintaining a mentor-mentee relationship and spoke about the unique challenges women face throughout their careers.
"Try to think of things through the perceptive of your mentor. If you are going to meet someone for lunch or coffee, suggest meeting near their office. This shows initiative and thought," Kallen said.
"Also, don't forget to be persistent. Stay in touch with us. Reach out to us once a quarter for coffee, and put it on your calendar," Castellini said.
Castellini promoted the WBA's "Curvey Path to Success" program, where she explained that a woman's career path is not alway linear; she may change positions between large firms, small firms, the Government, and private practice. The WBA has over 900 members and these areas of the law are represented for an ample amount of networking opportunities.
Following the panel, students were invited to ask panelists questions and attend a reception in the Keelty Atrium for a chance to network and engage in further conversations.
The WBA, founded in 1917, is one of the oldest and largest voluntary bar associations in Washington, D.C. Their mission is to maintain the honor and integrity of the profession; promote the administration of justice; advance and protect the interests of women lawyers; promote their mutual improvement; and encourage a spirit of friendship among members.