California Lawyers Association

We All Need Tupperware

April 2024

By Betty J. Williams
CLA President

Whether you are attending an event or serving as a presenter at a function, the activities held or hosted by the California Lawyers Association are designed with you in mind. You may be present to learn, but there is always an opportunity for you to support your colleagues, whether you realize it or not.

Years ago, I attended an annual criminal tax conference in Las Vegas. On the agenda was a “women’s dinner,” which I found maddening. I was there to meet with my contemporaries from around the United States. I assumed most of them would be men, so I resented the separation of the women, imagining we were expected to discuss mundane things like Tupperware (not that we don’t all need Tupperware from time to time).  

That dinner was ultimately the best event of the entire conference, which surprised me in a way I have always remembered. Sticking with the Tupperware analogy, I was happy to store the value of that event for future use, knowing it would never get old. I continue to look forward to that conference every year, always with the goal of connecting with a few new people.

Recently, several San Francisco Bay Area County bar associations formed an annual Bay Area Women Lawyers Retreat (BAWLR), which I was pleased to attend. The first day featured a list of impressive judges sharing information for those considering a future in the judiciary. A thoughtful interview with our own California Chief Justice, Patricia Guerrero, was a highlight. The material the judges shared was professional and personal. They discussed the difficult issues they have faced in their careers and how they persevered. The connections made between attendees were palpable. The willingness of judges to spend their time and provide insight to our future judges reminds me of how critical it is to be involved in our profession and to make time to meet with other professionals dedicating themselves to the law. When I go to a function, not only am I learning and growing as an attorney, but I also share resources and experiences with my new friends. Oftentimes, these events are designed with that purpose in mind. 

I also participated in a Media Interview Master Class last month at the annual Bar Leaders Institute (BLI). The basics included everything from understanding your audience to receiving the sound advice not to answer hypothetical questions: only speak about what you truly know. This reminded me of the Messaging Map course taught by BLI, which helps bar leaders be prepared to succinctly describe the value of their bar organization. 

Betty Williams being interviewed

Think about what CLA does for you and how you can share that message with others. Personally, I think about how CLA helps attorneys better serve their clients and their communities. From there, I discuss how CLA achieves this through its ample resources, including training seminars and opportunities to serve with other leaders on projects. Your pitch may include the chance to be involved in legislation, to learn public speaking, or to gain experience working on a committee. The possibilities to serve or lead are endless with CLA.

I encourage you to attend events involving our profession and set a goal to meet a few new people. Regardless of your years in practice, you will likely come away with something to store away for future use. You will surely have information or experiences to share with others in the room, some of whom will safely store your knowledge in their own Tupperware for later use.

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