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Tara Helms
Tara Helms
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Women for Justice 2008

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The year 2008 marks the third year for the Alabama Women’s Caucus of the Alabama Association for Justice. Emily Raley said it well in her role as the first Chair of the Women’s Caucus, that “the role of the Women’s Caucus is to assist women lawyers in developing our skills as lawyers through education, political involvement, networking, and business development.” These goals are being achieved through the work of the Women’s Caucus in association with ALAJ.

Part of the mission of ALAJ is to ensure that its members have the tools needed to provide their clients with a level playing field. Educational opportunities are an important goal in achieving this mission. In addition to the CLE programs offered by ALAJ, the Women’s Caucus offers a CLE during the Women for Justice Day program in Montgomery in April. In addition to the educational benefits of attending the regular ALAJ sponsored CLEs during the fall and winter, the Women’s Caucus CLE offers great opportunities for women to engage in professional development through networking opportunities with other lawyers and professionals. Moreover, the Montgomery location of the CLE offers great opportunities to network and mingle with local legislators, particularly women legislators.

Just as important in achieving the ALAJ mission to provide educations benefits, is the mission to increase political involvement. The entire ALAJ organization works extremely hard to achieve its mission of making sure that there is a level playing field in our system of justice. This Spring, the Women’s Caucus will host its third annual Women for Justice Day in Montgomery. I urge you to participate in this process. As lawyers, our practice and our clients’ future are governed by the rule of law. How many times have you said, “There ought to be a law.” Or, “That is a bad law.” Well, this is your opportunity to have a positive voice at the State House to address legislative issues which directly affect your practice and your clients. I am sad to say that prior to my participation in the first Women for Justice Day two years ago, I knew the names, but not the faces of my local legislators. I had written a few letters, but never took the time to visit the local legislative offices and the State House offices of my representatives. Since that time, I have taken the time to sit down and talk with my local representatives and get to know them. I can assure you they truly appreciate the interest and involvement from concerned constituents.

This year, the Women’s Caucus will be working on a community outreach project as well. The Women’s Caucus will be working to provide assistance to the Christian Women’s Job Corp. The Christian Women’s Job Corp (“CWJC”) is a non-profit, faith-based agency where women in need are equipped for life and employment through job-readiness classes, computer classes, GED training, Bible study, and mentoring from other women. With the support of area volunteers, the goal is to break the cycle of poverty. The Women’s Caucus of ALAJ will be working this year to assist CWJC in its mission to assist these women and the mission of CWJC. We are in the process of organizing a clothing drive where we ask membership to gather professional attire and accessories which can be passed along to CWJC participants. Also, each CWJC site has a hygiene pantry in which all of the basic necessities can be found – items such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste (that we take for granted) – are readily available and provided to all CWJC participants. Many of these women cannot afford these basic necessities. The Women’s Caucus of ALAJ is calling upon the membership to assist in gathering these items.

My hope for this year is to live up to the standards set by this organization and to build upon the accomplishments of the leadership of the previous years. I am looking forward to working with our current ALAJ members and looking forward to meeting new members. I urge the readers to encourage others to join the Women’s Caucus of ALAJ. By being involved, our members can be a force for positive change. This attitude has been a driving force for this organization.