“Every profession has an element of a higher calling, an ethical or moral core that epitomizes the loftiest aspirations of the job,” said veteran political strategist and television analyst Donna Brazile on Feb. 3 at the ABA Midyear Meeting. “But the nature of the legal profession makes it imperative to keep that higher calling in the front mind at all times.”
At the “Present and Powerful Women’s Speaker Series,” the New Orleans native said that elevating women to positions of power “will enable us to do more in the 21st century.”
“I’m not asking anybody to leave the room,” she added. “Just scoot over the hell over and make room for us!”
Although not a lawyer herself, Brazile, who served two stints as acting chair of the Democratic National Committee and managed Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000, said she spent her “entire life working with lawyers to make sure we get it right.”
Referring to the upcoming State of the Union address, she invoked last year’s speech, when the country “saw two of the most powerful women in the history of the United States seated on the podium as the president discussed the nomination of the first-ever Black woman on the Supreme Court.”
Victories should be savored and expanded on, Brazile said, and noted that the Supreme Court is now composed of five men and four women “and only two other women have ever served on the court – that’s progress.”
Noting that it was Black History Month, Brazile pointed to Deborah Enix-Ross and Paulette Brown, the first Black female presidents of the ABA, and said, “we’re moving; we’re creating history every day.”
She said lots of women are ready “for a different kind of future where they can lead.”
“Having more women in leadership just doubles the size of the talent pool,” she said, and urged attendees to call it out when there’s just one woman in the room (“tokenism”) and two (“window dressing”). “We need three or more,” Brazile said.
Saying she “learned at an early age that you’ve got to leverage your power for the common good,” Brazile urged lifting others up and bringing them along.
“Step into your power, step into your strength, own your power,” she said.
“If you’re not seen then you can be dismissed,” Brazile warned. “When we see everyone then we know that justice is finally coming down … like a mighty stream.”
The “Present and Powerful Speaker Series” is sponsored by GPSolo, the Law Practice Division, the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, the Commission on Women in the Profession and the Dispute Resolution Section.