Dear Friends & Colleagues,
It is tradition that, at the beginning of each year, the new HAWL president writes an open letter regarding the year to come. I had hoped to have mine written well in advance of the start of my term, but given the incredibly unusual times we are in, this letter will be a bit different than I expected so procrastination won out!
I have been a HAWL member for ten years and it has been the smartest investment of my time and money that I have ever made. The relationships I have built in HAWL have become friendships that have seen me through the worst of times and cheered me on in the best of times. HAWL members have quite literally saved my career and my life.
As a leader of HAWL, my mission is to expand and diversify our membership, to make safe spaces for tough conversations, to improve the way our members experience the legal profession, to support and elevate our members, and to give back to the community. Personally, I am passionate about eliminating systemic prejudice and discrimination by recognizing my own biases to help others see theirs, and shining a light on mental health issues in the legal profession and beyond. That being said, I hope to use my position in HAWL to advance these passions, but I will need your help.
I am writing this letter in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, an experience comparable to none. Many of us have suffered tragedy during this time that has been compounded by the social isolation required to keep each other safe. As lawyers we have had to run our practices virtually, including video-conferenced depositions, mediations, hearings, and bar events. Planning for the next HAWL year would typically include planning at least eight luncheons and numerous other in-person gatherings. At this point, though, I have no idea of when we will be able to conduct those events again. I do not want HAWL to get lost in the shuffle, and I do not want our membership meetings and community events to be only attended by people in leadership positions. I want HAWL to be a resource for as many attorneys as possible, and I want to provide value to our members.
So I am asking each of you to PLEASE submit your suggestions, tell me what HAWL can do for you, and ask for whatever you need. Every single member of HAWL is valuable to me, I truly mean that. I know that some of you are intimidated by this large group where it seems everybody knows everybody except you. I guarantee that is not the case. Our membership is around 300 attorneys and I have certainly not met all of you. And when I went to my first HAWL meeting I knew literally zero people. I was shy and nervous and sat at an empty table hoping people would fill in around me so I wouldn’t look like an outcast, and they did! It’s a little harder to do that virtually but want to try!
In closing, thank you so much for reading this letter and being a part of HAWL. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and I hope we have a fantastic year. Be well, take care of yourselves and each other, and please reach out if there is anything I can do for you.
Mandi Clay, HAWL President 2020-2021