At its 40th Anniversary Gala on September 10, 2016, nearly 300 guests gathered for the installation of IADC Member Bridget Hoy (of Lewis Rice LLC in St. Louis, Missouri) as President of the Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater St. Louis (“WLA”).
Keynote Speaker, the Honorable Jane Kelly of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, highlighted the organization’s rich history and the important work it does for diversity in the legal profession. As Ms. Hoy pointed out in her acceptance speech, forty years ago the answer to “Why a women’s bar association?” was simple: women were not represented among the judges in Missouri courts. That is why in 1976 a brave group of women came together with a combined voice to bring attention to this lack of diversity in the judiciary. Many stellar female jurists have since been appointed to all levels of the Missouri judiciary, and those appointments were made possible, at least in part, by the efforts of the WLA to bring attention to the need for diversity on the bench. Forty years later the question of “Why a women’s bar association” might be asked again. According to Ms. Hoy, the answer is simple: diversity in our legal system makes it stronger. Now, the issues might be defined as a lack of gender diversity in our legislature, in the management ranks of our law firms, as lead trial counsel, as general counsel to the corporate world, and as deans of our law schools. As it has for forty years, WLA provides a place where young lawyers can interact with successful women legislators, partners, in-house attorneys, and professors to inspire them to reach their full potential as well. Ms. Hoy noted that like the many roles she holds in life – woman, veteran, law firm partner, trial attorney, widow, and mother – her role as WLA President for the 2016-17 bar year is likely to be highly enriching. She is proud to be taking WLA “forty and forward” with force!