Houston lawyer Melanie Bragg, chair of the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, was faced with a challenge when looking for a headliner for the entity’s next Present and Powerful Speaker Series, taking place at the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting. She wanted someone impressive, on par with the speakers of the two previous ones: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joann Lublin in 2017 and CNN Vice President Parisa Khosravi in 2018.
“I wanted to find someone really special, someone who could help lawyers feel proud of their work and reconnect with the reason they became lawyers in the first place,” Bragg explained. “I wanted someone with a strong voice and an empowering message.”
Bragg’s search ended while planning the event with Kellye Moore, chair of the division’s Women’s Initiative Network, when she was surprised and delighted to learn of the availability of one her favorite authors on mindfulness and a champion of female power—Marianne Williamson. “It was incredible. We felt so lucky that it worked out the way it did,” Bragg said.
Williamson is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer. Her 12 books – including seven New York Times bestsellers – focus on spirituality and self-empowerment. Her latest book, “A Politics of Love: Handbook for a New American Revolution,” will be published later this year.
Recent news further assured the co-chairs of the particular relevance of their choice: Late last year, Williamson announced the launch of an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
After a record number of women won seats in Congress in November, the timing is perfect to hear Williamson speak on the theme of the event, “How American Women Can Change the World,” Bragg said.
Williamson will likely explore the topic of female empowerment, as she did during a recent GPSolo podcast, during which she spoke about how women often express their power. When women gain a seat at the table, they can become paralyzed by social pressure to mimic a patriarchal or masculine approach to governing, she said.
“These are fundamental underlying forces that shape our society and must be challenged,” she continued, advocating the special skills unique to women that have been woefully undervalued for far too long.
The law will help move us forward. “My father used to say, laws are weapons,” Williamson said.
Moore said she hopes attendees come away from the event with a renewed sense of purpose, feeling refreshed and empowered. “Practicing law can be stressful, and we don’t often hear from others outside our profession that we’re doing the critical work of upholding our American democracy,” she said. “I think we’re all due for some of that recognition.”
The Present and Powerful Speaker Series: “How American Women Can Change the World” is set for Friday, Jan. 25 from 4-5:30 p.m. at Caesars Palace’s Forum Ballroom 24 (Pool Level). Williamson will be joined by Natalie Runyon, director at Thomson Reuters, who will offer insight on “Elevating the Call for Women: How to Say Yes and How to Get Started.”
Williamson will sign copies of her books during a wine-and-cheese reception that follows.