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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Kara Wild, President 2024

Dear Queen's Bench Members and Friends:

I am honored to be Queen's Bench’s President for 2024, and to help continue its mission of promoting equality and opportunity for all women.  I want to encourage as many as possible to join or to renew their membership, as there are so many benefits to being a member.     

New and existing members can make a meaningful difference in the community by joining Queen’s Bench’s committees, such as Amicus Briefs, Employment/Work-life Balance, Civic and Judicial Appointments, Events, and more.  Co-chair positions are open, and those who join can quickly rise to leadership positions on the committee and in Queen’s Bench.

Members also have the opportunity to attend our signature events at a reduced cost.    

  • We have our virtual Induction Ceremony in February, where the new Board will be sworn in by the Honorable Mary Wiss, and new inductees to the California Bar will have the opportunity to learn more about the Queen’s Bench while interacting with established members and judges.

  • This will be followed by the Past Presidents Dinner in the late Spring, where we will honor the more than 100 past presidents of the Queen’s Bench while also looking ahead to the future.  A fun dinner with a familial feel, the Past Presidents Dinner also includes the popular silent and live auctions, which raise money for the Queen’s Bench Foundation, a 501(c)(3).   

  • In the fall, we will hold our annual Judges’ Dinner, which honors our local judges while also providing a forum for a speaker of substance and stature to discuss issues of importance to women.  This has typically been our largest event, and in 2023 was held in the Green Room at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.

We also have other significant events planned, including:

  • Get Into the Legal Loop on March 6, 2024, an event overseen by the Mentorship Committee that will held at the Apple “Infinite Loop” headquarters in Cupertino.  Geared toward law students and college students from underrepresented backgrounds, it provides an opportunity to network with attorneys and learn about more about the legal profession. 

  • Cocktails and Couture, overseen by the Business Development Committee, a social event that brings attention to independent women-owned clothing stores.  A percentage of the amount spent on clothing goes to the Queen’s Bench Foundation.  

  • LEAADD, overseen by the Business Development Committee, a cross-professional networking event that celebrates "A Coalition of Women Lawyers, Engineers, Architects, Accountants, Dentists, Doctors and Other Women Professionals."

In addition, there are MCLE events, informal mentorship gatherings, and the Queen’s Bench book club.    

We are also in the process of launching a new website, which will better promote our activities and events, so that we can offer more services, reach out to more long-term members and to engage new members.  

Queen’s Bench’s success depends upon you.  People looking to make a positive impact on the community are the lifeblood of our organization.  We welcome any new faces who want to join, and will do whatever we can to help them feel at home.  Many members have formed long-lasting friendships due to coming together and working as one to expand equality and women’s professional opportunities.  

Like many organizations, the Covid pandemic left an impact on Queen’s Bench, lessening engagement and affecting both Queen’s Bench’s membership base and the amount of funding available to carry out its daily operations.  We are working to build up our membership and to plan new initiatives.   

However, due to the impact on our funding, Queen’s Bench will need to make some changes in the way it offers services.  This including raising some prices slightly and charging a small fee for some items that were previously free. 

We rely on the generosity of individuals and entity sponsors.  Please click HERE for the 2024 Sponsorship Menu, which provides information about sponsorship of Queen’s Bench events and donations to Queen’s Bench as a 501(c)(6).  Your support will help us continue to grow stronger.

Join Queen’s Bench as we move forward into exciting new places.  Together, we will continue Queen’s Bench’s mission to promote equality and opportunity.      

Yours Truly,


Kara L. Wild
2024 President

  • 12 Jun 2024 2:57 PM | Anonymous

     


    On June 6, 2024, Queen’s Bench Bar Association partnered with Women Lawyers of Alameda County to host “Fight for Democracy: Protect the Election,” a 90-minute program about what actions lawyers and non-lawyers can do to protect voting rights and fair elections.  The program was a hybrid live/virtual event held at ADR Services in Oakland, the first in a series of two-to-three installments.  Its speakers were:  

    Marcia Johnson, a co-director of the Lawyers' Committee's Voting Rights Project. She oversees the Project’s programmatic and advocacy portfolios, which includes convening Election Protection, the nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition and advocating for the restoration of the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and national electoral reform. 

    Helen Hutchison, a member of the League of Women Voters since 1969.  She served on the Boards of the Claremont, Clackamas County and Oakland Leagues, was the president of the LWV Oakland from 2003 to 2007, and served on the LWV California board from 2008 to 2013, including as President of the LWV California from 2014 to 2019. 

    Dena Belinkoff, a member of the VoPro Pros Leadership Team. She was the Volunteer Voter Protection Director in 2022 and worked on the Josh Harder for Congress Re-election Campaign (CA-9). 

    Anna Chu, Executive Director of We The Action.  A long-time advocate and champion of civil rights, she channels her prior experience leading civil rights coalitions, fighting for gender justice, and advocating for economic security to mobilize the broader legal community to support social progress. 

    Marcia Johnson led off by discussing the current dangers facing this election.  While the 2020 election created opportunities for voters through increased vote by mail and early voting—resulting in the most secure election in history—there has since been a legislative backlash.  Federal and state legislation has sought to place limitations on access to the ballot; end private funding of elections (“Zuckerbucks”); and enact criminalization provisions.  The United States Supreme Court has issued rulings that have harmed voting rights, including in the recent racial gerrymandering case, Alexander v. S.C. NAACP.  At the same time, there has been competing Congressional legislation to expand voting rights and opportunities, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, American Confidence in Elections Act, and Safeguard American Votes and Elections Act.

    Helen Hutchison, Dena Belinkoff, and Anna Chu then offered ways lawyers and non-lawyers could assist with voter protection.  This includes working through their organizations to:

    • Activate inactive voters

    • Help thousands of formerly incarcerated citizens reclaim and secure their voting rights

    • Identify and address election administration problems

    • Combat voter purges

    • Educate voters about their rights, and 

    • Protect the vote at polling places and call centers across the country.

    Lawyers and non-lawyers interested in election protection have the option of working on those projects in person or virtually.  

    League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization working to protect and expand voting rights through advocacy, education, and litigation.  

    VoPro Pros is an all-volunteer organization formed during the 2020 general election and 2021 Senate runoff election in Georgia, which performs numerous election-driven activities around the country, from contacting voters to cure their ballots to working with voters to register or correct registration issues.

    We The Action is a source for lawyers to volunteer their time for election protection projects.  To date, We The Action has had 4,585 lawyer volunteers, 264 projects, and $12,332,000 donated in volunteer services.  They are recruiting lawyers to collectively donate 150,000 hours of legal services to protect democracy through their Voter Vanguard campaign.  Activities include voter registration and poll watching, as well as assisting organizations with becoming 501(c)(3)s. 

    If you would like to be part of their efforts to protect voting this upcoming election, please visit their websites to volunteer or donate:

    The second part of the “Fight for Democracy” series will take place on September 26, 2024.
  • 13 Mar 2024 10:24 PM | Anonymous

    On Wednesday, March 6, 2024, Queen’s Bench Bar Association celebrated Women’s History Month with the post-pandemic return of its annual service day, Get Into the Legal Loop (GILL), at Apple Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA. More than 30 legal professionals were in attendance among nearly 100 attendees. As Queen’s Bench Mentorship Committee (QBMC) co-chairs, Queen’s Bench Secretary Alexandra Sepolen and Linda Anderson welcomed college and law students from underrepresented backgrounds to learn more about pathways into the legal profession. 


    History of GILL

    Support from Queen’s Bench to host GILL first came from Hana Hardy (Queen’s Bench Past President 2019), who galvanized support from local community partners and law student leaders to host an event informing college students about pathways into the legal profession. The first GILL event was hosted shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic and received a positive reception from local students and attorneys practicing in the Bay Area.

    In the early stages of planning the event, QBMC worked alongside Hana Hardy and 2018 Rookie Award recipient Heather Fuchs (Santa Clara Law JD’19). Both Hana Hardy and Heather Fuchs were instrumental in both planning the original event as well as providing guidance on GILL’s post-pandemic relaunch. “Receiving support from a Past President like Hana and a fellow Rookie Award recipient like Heather enabled QBMC to learn more about the strategies that made GILL such a huge success,” commented Alexandra Sepolen. “Their level of support for GILL exemplifies the Queen’s Bench spirit of uplifting and helping others succeed,” remarked Linda Anderson.


    Panel Recap

    The first half of the event was comprised of an attorney panel moderated by Alexandra Sepolen featuring the following panelists:

    • Elizabeth Miles Waring, Senior Legal Director for iTunes, Apple Music, Apple TV, Fitness+, and Apple Media Services International at Apple;

    • Liz Sanchez Santiago, Associate Attorney at Cooley LLP;

    • Administrative Law Judge Dorothy Chou Proudfoot from the San Francisco Rent Board;

    • Kristen Rovai, Associate Attorney at Fenwick & West; and

    • Michèle M. Bissada, Partner at Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada LLP & Certified Family Law Specialist.

    A photograph of the Get Into the Legal Loop 2024 Panelists and Queen’s Bench Mentorship Committee Co-Chairs; from left to right, Linda Anderson, Mentorship Committee Co-Chair; Michèle Bissada; Elizabeth Miles Waring, Liz Sanchez Santiago; Administrative Law Judge Dorothy Chou Proudfoot; Kristen Rovai; and Alexandra Sepolen, Secretary and Mentorship Committee Co-Chair.

    A photograph of the Get Into the Legal Loop 2024 Panelists and Queen’s Bench Mentorship Committee Co-Chairs; from left to right, Linda Anderson, Mentorship Committee Co-Chair; Michèle Bissada; Elizabeth Miles Waring; Liz Sanchez Santiago; Administrative Law Judge Dorothy Chou Proudfoot; Kristen Rovai; and Alexandra Sepolen, Secretary and Mentorship Committee Co-Chair

    Panelists shared how they found their passion for the law, as well as strategies to acquire useful skills in law school that are transferable to the practice of law. Panelists also encouraged students to find opportunities to explore practice areas and settings aligned with their interests. When asked to reflect on the panel, QBMC Co-Chair Linda Anderson remarked, “Had I not already been a practicing attorney, I would have been inspired to pursue a legal career after attending the panel.”


    Networking Reception

    After the panel event, students joined legal professionals for a lively networking reception, featuring interactive activities to educate students about various legal careers while helping them identify potential mentors. Students participated in GILL Bingo for a chance to win prizes. Queen’s Bench law student member Saamia Haqiq (UC Law SF JD’26) won this year’s bingo competition.

    A photograph of Saamia Haqiq (UC Law SF JD’26) with her winning bingo card from the GILL networking reception


    Launch of Inaugural Law Preview Scholarship Program

    GILL also marked the launch of the Mentorship Committee’s inaugural scholarship program, the Queen’s Bench/BARBRI Law Preview Scholarship. The Law Preview Scholarship is awarded to a college senior who is entering their first year of law school and is from an underrepresented group in the legal profession. Law Preview Scholars are able to attend BARBRI’s Law Preview summer program

    QBMC’s first Law Preview Scholar is Grace Carter (Stanford ‘24). Grace studies Psychology and Linguistics and was accepted into Stanford Law School’s Class of 2027. She is a 2023 Truman Scholar, a fellow with Stanford’s Constitutional Law Center, and the former Vice President of Stanford Natives in Pre-Law. Grace is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and looks forward to exploring federal Indian law, administrative law, and environmental law at SLS. 

    A photograph of the GILL 2024 Panelists and Mentorship Committee Chairs announcing the Law Preview Scholarship; from left to right, Michèle Bissada, Liz Sanchez Santiago, Law Preview Scholar Grace Carter, and Mentorship Committee Co-Chairs Alexandra Sepolen & Linda Anderson

    After learning that she is now a Law Preview Scholar, Grace stated, “I am so honored to receive the Queen’s Bench/BARBRI Law Preview Scholarship! I am grateful for this opportunity to enter law school prepared for my 1L year and beyond, and I am excited to see what doors this scholarship opens for my next season of life.”


    Return of the Law Student Liaison Program

    QBMC also announced the relaunch of the Law Student Liaison Program, inviting rising 2Ls, 3Ls, and 4Ls to apply for the year-long program promoting the development of leadership skills among the next generation of Bay Area lawyers. Liaisons are held to high academic standards and represent various law schools throughout the Bay Area. Each student selected for the program is also charged with completing a year-long capstone project related to the mission and goals of Queen’s Bench. 

    Queen’s Bench Secretary and QBMC Co-Chair Alexandra Sepolen was elated to announce the return of the program. “As a GILL alumna and former law student liaison, I am proud that this program is returning to Queen’s Bench. The Liaison Program enabled me to connect with Queen’s Bench members who remain my mentors to this day. I am eager to see which projects this year’s liaison class chooses to work on, and QBMC looks forward to supporting this year’s class.”

    Applications for the Law Student Liaison Program are now open and close on Friday, March 22nd. Selected liaisons will receive notice via email by the end of March and will be announced at this year’s Past Presidents’ Dinner on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at Fang Restaurant in San Francisco.


    Looking to the Future

    “We look forward to GILL returning as an annual event,” said Linda Anderson. “Our committee values the importance of providing opportunities for aspiring lawyers from diverse backgrounds to connect with potential mentors who can nurture their excitement for legal practice,” remarked Alexandra Sepolen.

    Queen’s Bench members interested in joining QBMC or learning more about future mentoring events can contact co-chairs Alexandra Sepolen and Linda Anderson at asepolen@fkkblaw.com and landerson@fkkblaw.com. Queen’s Bench also thanks Administrator Ashley Knies and photographer Jesus Leyva for their phenomenal work as our bar association’s on-site team at the event.
  • 13 Mar 2024 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    Recently, The Queen’s Bench Bar Association joined in an amicus brief filed in Keeler-Hodgetts v. Tsukroff (First Appellate District, Division Two), which addresses important issues related to domestic violence. Below is a summary of the case and arguments raised in the amicus brief.

    Appellant Katherine Keeler-Hodgetts sought a domestic violence restraining order against her former partner Brandon Tsukroff.  The trial court denied her request for a restraining order on the ground that she failed to demonstrate a past act of abuse under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act and Family Code section 6200.  The trial court found that Keeler-Hodgetts failed to establish sexual abuse by a preponderance of the evidence.  The trial court found her sexual abuse allegations not credible because she (1) had not previously reported or alleged abuse in prior pleadings and (2) agreed to share legal and physical custody of her two minor daughters with Tsukroff (their father).

    The amcius brief argues that the trial court should not have considered points 1 and 2 in evaluating Keeler-Hodgetts’ credibility.  The brief explains that the trial court’s determination that Keeler-Hodgetts “lacked credibility as to her sexual abuse allegations demonstrates what legal scholars and social scientists have detailed for some time: Family law courts commonly respond to women’s reports of sexual violence by discounting their credibility.  Research suggests that this credibility discounting stems from beliefs in traditional gender roles; misconceptions about what domestic violence survivors look like, how survivors behave after assaults, and how they recount their experiences; and a willingness to believe claims of ulterior motives for reporting domestic abuse.”  The brief notes that courts recognize “ ‘it is common for people who have been physically and mentally abused to act in ways that may be difficult for a layperson to understand.’ ”

    The brief points out that issues of sexual assault and domestic violence often involve women who are reluctant to report sexual assault, especially sexual assault by the father of their children. Courts must be careful in drawing adverse inferences from women who delay reporting sexual assault and women who agree to share custody with their abuser/father of their children.  

    Filed Amicus Brief (1).pdf

  • 28 Feb 2024 4:54 PM | Anonymous

    Queen’s Bench celebrates history of Annie Coker, Black women lawyers’ contributions to the California legal community

    By Alexandra Sepolen 2024 Secretary


    As Black History Month draws to a close, Queen’s Bench acknowledges the contributions of Black women lawyers to the Bay Area community, including the groundwork laid by the first Black female lawyer in the state of California, Annie Coker.

    Annie Virginia Stephens Coker was born in Oakland, California, on April 7, 1903, and attended public school in Oakland and Pacific Grove. Annie Coker received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of California Berkeley and completed her education at Berkeley Law. At the time, Ms. Coker was one of two women in her 47-person class. She received a LL.B. in 1929, eight years after the founding of Queen’s Bench Bar Association, and was admitted to the State Bar of California in the same year.

    After moving to Virginia to run her own private practice, Annie Coker returned to California in 1939 to work for the Office of Legislative Counsel in Sacramento. Ms. Coker eventually became the head of the Indexing Section, responsible for compiling all California state codes and bills brought before the California legislature. Ms. Coker was described by her colleagues as “a good supervisor, a good friend” and “conscientious.”

    In a California Bar Journal article regarding Ms. Coker’s career, former Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte remarked, “I’m absolutely inspired by her. For her to have come up at the time she did, and to be admitted at a time when the level of discrimination and the lack of opportunities for African-Americans, particularly in the legal profession, was high is amazing to me.”

    Today, Queen’s Bench Bar Association continues to celebrate the contributions of Black women lawyers to the Bay Area legal community. Black women have also contributed to the rich history and tradition of leadership in our bar association, including but not not limited to Hana Hardy (Queen’s Bench President 2019). As a member of the Minority Bar Coalition, we encourage our members to attend the various events hosted by our sister bar associations led by Black women lawyers such as Black Women Lawyers of Northern California and the Charles Houston Bar Association. More information about MBC and affiliate organizations is available here.

  • 30 Jan 2024 10:47 AM | Anonymous

    Governor Newsom Appoints 

    Queen's Bench member,

    Elizabeth L. Riles to the Alameda Bench


    Elizabeth L. Riles, of Alameda County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Alameda County Superior Court. Riles has served as a Commissioner at the Alameda County Superior Court since 2023. She served as an Administrative Law Judge for the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board from 2022 to 2023. Riles was Managing Shareholder at Bohbot & Riles PC from 2003 to 2022. She was an Associate at Kerosky & Bradley LLP from 2001 to 2002, at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP from 1999 to 2001 and at Jackson, Tufts, Cole & Black LLP from 1998 to 1999. Riles earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the transfer of Judge Kevin Murphy to the Marin County Superior Court. She is a Democrat.

  • 16 Jan 2024 11:34 AM | Anonymous


  • 16 Jan 2024 11:32 AM | Anonymous


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