Getting Things Done
On November 6 last year, Americans voted a record number of women into Congress: 79 women in the House of Representatives and 20 women in the Senate now serve in this 113th Congress. (This Congress is also the most racially diverse, with 42 African-Americans and 29 Latinos in the House and 2 African-Americans and 3 Latinos in the Senate. House Democrats are the first caucus in the history of Congress not to have a majority of white men serving this term.)
One of those women is Representative Lois Frankel of Florida, who graced us with her presence and keynote speech at our WTLC brunch at AAJ’s Mid-Winter Convention in Miami. A trial lawyer and long-time public servant, Rep. Frankel shared stories of her many years in the Florida House of Representatives and as Mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida and encouraged all of us to get involved in public leadership. Asked how her experience as a trial lawyer helped her service to the citizens of the state of Florida and this country, she talked of the willingness to “be bold” and take risks, underlined with the importance of preparation and the ability to weather criticism. What has helped her the most, though, is the “fire in your belly” to be involved and get things done. That’s what trial lawyers do best.
We know that when we put our minds to it, women get things done. We prove that individually in our lives and our practices each day as we juggle work, family, and community commitments. We also prove it as a Women’s Caucus. Take, for example, our recent fundraising. Only a few short weeks before our Mid-Winter Convention, the WTLC was asked to raise $5,000 for Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, running to replace former Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry. We blew that ask out of the water, raising more than $18,000 for the campaign. On top of that, and with only a week’s notice, the WTLC raised more than $38,000 for Congressman and AAJ stalwart Bruce Braley of Iowa, running to replace retiring Senator Tom Harkin, nearly $3,000 for Senator Lindsay Graham, and more than $8,000 for AAJ’s PAC. The WTLC also led the charge in AAJ’s community service project in Miami, raising approximately $1,100 to be used to buy books for the pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students of South Pointe Elementary School in Miami Beach, Florida.
And we do much more than speak with our wallets. Over the last few years, the WTLC has instituted both a women-to-women referral network and a mentoring program within AAJ, encouraged and enabled our members to share their expertise by participating in countless AAJ education programs, awarded several promising young women the Mike Eidson Scholarship and brought them into our family, supported the creation of women caucuses in our state trial lawyer associations, helped AAJ’s membership efforts and served on AAJ committees – and hosted some of the best receptions and dinners to facilitate our members getting to know each other better. Phew!
We’ll take the same “get things done” mentality to Capitol Hill later this spring. On May 22 and 23, we’ll have an opportunity to meet with Representatives Frankel, Braley, and Markey, newly-elected Representative and former AAJ BOG member Matt Cartwright, and other members of Congress for our biannual WTLC Lobby Days. Two years ago, the WTLC focused its Lobby Days efforts on the then-unknown SMART Act, a bill designed to streamline the Medicare secondary payer process by providing certainty and finality to reimbursements to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The bill had twenty cosponsors by the end of our time in D.C.; less than twenty months later, President Obama signed the SMART Act into law.
Starting mid-day on Wednesday, May 22, we’ll gather for a day and a half to lobby Congress on behalf of our clients, share cocktails with members of Congress, and make new friends from across the country. Plan to lobby until 5pm on Thursday, May 23. Don’t worry – we give you all of the tools necessary. We just need your enthusiasm (and your commitment to bring comfortable shoes for our day on Capitol Hill).
Block the dates in your calendar and sign up now for one of the most exciting and fun events AAJ holds.
Let’s go get things done.