The Arizona Chapter of the JRCLS Women in the Law held its inaugural event on Friday April 18th, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a luncheon featuring Professor Jini Roby. Approximately 40 women attended. Jini's talk, entitled, "Of Briefs and Oil Lamps", addressed the issue of appropriately using our briefs (legal training) and balancing that with appropriately paying attention to our oil lamps (our spiritual development). It was a perfect message for the group.
The Arizona WIL Committee (the Committee) has representatives from the Phoenix, East Valley and Student chapters. It also has representatives from the following categories: law student, recent graduate, full time partner, part time partner and a non practicing attorney. In addition, the Committee includes representatives from the following categories: single, recently married, married with young children, married with older children and married with married children. All of those categories are represented with only 5 women on the Committee! It is a great group with various perspectives.
Some of the goals and objectives of the Committee are: to provide support, camaraderie, open eyes to various paths to be taken, be part of a group that shares many things in common, help women opt back into the practice if they so desire, receive strength and support in overcoming obstacles which are unique to women, and build a sense of unity and community.
Over the past few months the Committee put together a list of Arizona women who had been "trained in the law to whom faith matters". They ended up with a list containing 85 names. The majority of the women on the list are LDS, about 10% are not. 63% are currently practicing law; 27% are not practicing at this time; 7% are students and 2% work in law firms and are contemplating attending law school.
There was a great feeling of camaraderie at the luncheon. The most common response was "I never knew there were so many LDS women lawyers in the valley". Everyone felt comfortable, accepted and wanted. It was a rewarding experience for all.
As mentioned earlier, this is a diverse group. As Joseph B. Wirthlin, a leader in the LDS church recently said:
"[Some] feel they don't belong. Perhaps because they are different; They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don't fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.
"Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all [women trained in the law to whom faith matters] should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father's children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole." April 2008 General Conference
When addressing the luncheon group, the Committee chair, Nan Barker, said, "Let me assure each one of you, you do fit into this group. You are 'women trained in the law to whom faith matters'. You are needed. You are not being judged for the choices you have made. Instead, you are respected and honored for the 'beautiful sound' and depth and richness you bring to the whole."
The next event is going to be a day of service on October 18th, 2008. They are planning to help the Arizona Lost Boys' Society which has various needs that both practicing and non-practicing attorneys can fill.
If you have any questions or want to speak with someone on this Committee, please e-mail Nan Barker.