Colorado Women’s Bar Association

LAW WEEK: Can you tell me about what you see as the value of the organization to its members and to the legal community?

PARADY: There are two things we’re particularly good at. One, we do a lot of things that build community and members’ professional networks and help them find relationships that are a little deeper than the normal colleague relationship, which I find is necessary if you want to survive and aren’t in the traditional mold in our profession. We help them find people in the organization who can empathize, give advice, be a little more real and turn into actual friends — not just colleagues. We, as an organization, try to bring all of ourselves to the table and give permission to talk about hard stuff and be whole people and talk about things that are more personal.

The other thing is we try to do very sensitive and active work to actually break down the very real structural barriers that exist in our profession. We’re not a sit-back-and-hope-things change organization. We do work in the judicial system and the legislature. We’ve had a lobbyist for a number of years, but this year we worked on drafting legislation —that had to do with pay equity for women and people of color in the state of Colorado. We’re not sitting on the sidelines. It’s necessary for attorneys to do that. We’re a self-regulating profession, so for looking internally, we’re the only ones who can make a change, to the extent we can bring that to bear.

LAW WEEK: Can you tell me some more about the work the organization did in getting the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act during this year’s legislative session and why it was necessary for the organization to get involved?

PARADY: It fundamentally came from data. We have partner organizations in the community, the Women’s Lobby of Colorado and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. The research they were doing was showing us that we have a very profound pay gap in Colorado, and whatever our laws and policies and social efforts were, were not fixing that.

And the legal community was galvanized when women at DU learned they were not paid equally to their peers and pursued litigation. That brought it home to our profession.

We realized on that particular issue, first of all, female attorneys themselves have a significant pay gap, and women as a whole do as well. However you slice it, there’s a pay gap compared to men.

We were well-positioned to be leaders on that topic. So we did the work on that with a coalition of other like-minded organizations.

LAW WEEK: What other events or initiatives do you have coming up this year?

PARADY: One thing we’re focusing on this year is improving our internal processes on diversity and inclusion. We’re putting a lot of thought into what we ourselves are doing. So we’re coming up with concrete processes and procedures through what we do so we never drop the ball on that.

Also every winter in February, we do our “Storming” program, our Storming Leadership Survey. This year we’re doing Storming the Bench again. That tries to keep rectifying the issue surrounding women on the bench. We’re doing that again this year.

We also do a lot with judicial vacancies. Our Judicial Committee is busier than they’ve ever been to vet candidates and make recommendations to the governor. We have a lot in the works.

LAW WEEK: Can you tell me more about the specific focus of the Storming the Bench program and what the goals are coming out of that?

PARADY: The Storming the Bench program is a half-day program for people interested in becoming judges to help them understand the nuts and bolts of that program. So planning their career early on to how you go about filling out judicial application, then if you do get shortlisted, how to handle the interview. It’s all more of a how-to guide.

LAW WEEK: Is there anything else coming up for the organization through the remainder of your time as president?

PARADY: Next year is the  100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. We’ve been thinking about that milestone. It has a lot to say about how the women’s rights movement evolved and needs to continue to evolve. But it’s important to keep in mind that not all women got the right to vote through the 19th Amendment — only white women did. And I think that speaks to where the Women’s Bar Association is going right now. It’s not just about white women. Not all women have identical experiences, and not all women attorneys have identical experiences, so we’re looking back at our own history and thinking about that and being open about that as we go forward.

LAW WEEK: Is there anything else you’re working on that you’d like to mention?

PARADY: I want to rave about the fact that everybody leading the diversity bar associations this year — it’s been special for me to be a part of that group. They’re all brilliant, kind-hearted fonts of energy, and I didn’t know any of them before this year. Having the experience this year of trying to balance this list [of activities] with all the other busy things about being an attorney and to see how you can serve a strongly opinionated group of members, it’s been nice to do that with all of them. •

Tony Flesor, [email protected]

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