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Inbox: Personal values and experiences define 'all'

August 29, 2012
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Ms. Lucas:

Can women in the law have it all? I chuckle when I read this headline.

I chuckle at such a broad, open-ended question that is personal in a unique way to each reader. I am happy that the topic is at the forefront of conversations because it evokes emotion, raises awareness which leads to acceptance. Awareness and acceptance lead to ACTION.

First, a little about my background in candid form and how I identify with the community. I am a female, Amerasian, 35-year-old divorcing mother, solo practitioner of 6 years, professional model and distance runner. My areas of practice which I commonly refer to as money, dirt and debt were all chosen specifically based upon my life experiences.

Money, or rather banking law, was chosen because I am fascinated by currency – the lack there of or the lavishness of multiple zeros. I am a child of the government welfare system that experienced poverty and homelessness at a young age with my family. Dirt, or real estate law, stems from my desire to have a home with a concrete foundation having lived in a camper and single-wide trailer as a child. Debt, or bankruptcy law, stems from a combination of the latter two, and allows me to help those similarly situated through knowledge and experience. I have also had the unfortunate experience of watching and surviving my family be torn apart by mental illness and addiction … twice. And my client base continues to reflect my experiences. My practice areas allow synchronicity to connect the bridge to my own personal experiences. My experiences strengthen my learned book knowledge.

Back to the conversation of can women have it all? My answer is yes.

I often say, I have what I need, not necessarily what I want. And the most important needs that I have are love, happiness, compassion, open mindedness and willingness. These needs shape my perspective and define who I am. They give me purpose. And because my needs are met, I do in fact have it all. It is my humble opinion, that everyone, man or woman, can have it all too. I am not special, but I do have gifts and talents that make me unique. And I have tools that allow me to share my gifts and talents, purposefully. I have let go of my desire for perfection, my biggest Achilles heel, and have ultimately chosen to live a life of contentment and peace. I am not certain whether everyone wants the same of what I have, but my guess is that many do.

I work nationally and locally on women in the law issues. I have chaired the Women and the Law Division for IndyBar, I sit on the Women in Law Committee for the ISBA, I serve on the Board for Women Rainmakers of the ABA LPM, and I am on the editorial board for Perspectives, the magazine for women lawyers published by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. My involvement does not make me an expert on this topic. From all of my experience, however, I have identified two forefront challenges that women lawyers face and there stems the question of can women have it all. The first challenge is how a woman lawyer views herself. The second challenge (which I call the true “war on women”) are women lawyers who recognize themselves in the profession simply as lawyers, and not women.

In my perspective, it is not a disadvantage to be a woman in the profession so long as I know who I am. It is when I forget who I am, or try to be somebody that I am not, that I lose sight of my goals. If I try to accustom or assimilate to any so-called “norm” or “standard,” or strictly follow the direction or advice that my intuition speaks against, I am not me and, therefore, not as effective in anything I do, including practicing law.

In regards to the second challenge that I identify above, I understand both sides of the coin. But one side of the coin is more fearful than the other. I have observed and overheard many women who believe women should assimilate to the customs of the profession to “blend.”

Some women desire to be only recognized for their professional accomplishments, identifying as an attorney rather than as a woman first. They may not recognize the reward in sharing what they have learned in their own experience. Who created the customs of our profession anyway? And who is to judge what is right or wrong for an individual? Neither of those questions can be answered by black letter or case law.

As I often quote: A woman that seeks to be equal with men lacks ambition – Marilyn Monroe. I can disagree with you, but still love and respect you the same. Each person is uniquely tailored by their experience, but history has shown that our similarities bond us together stronger than our differences. I am a woman that practices law. I will share more similarities in my perspective and experience with another woman than I will with a man. I understand what it is like to be a woman, not a man. And if my experience can help another, I have a human duty to help. I help myself feel useful, serve my purpose, grow, and help my profession and community by helping another. It just so happens that I may be more helpful to more women than men in certain areas simply because I am a woman. What a gift! And I recognize the dozens of MEN and women that have helped me to come to this place where I have it all.

Your editorial and this conversation have once again reinvigorated me. I have thought for years to assist in founding the Indiana Women’s Bar Association and have excused myself from service to focus on other matters. It now seems timely to assist the movement forward of helping other women have it all too. Time to assemble! Thanks for once again opening the door!

L. Leona Frank, Attorney at Law
Indianapolis

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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