Celebrating International Women’s Day: A Look at the Women of Vogelzang Law
Every year on March 8th, women worldwide are celebrated on International Women’s Day (IWD) as we forge ahead on a mission for a gender-equal world. IWD celebrates every woman for their accomplishments and increasing visibility with an eye on bringing attention to inequality.
In 2023, IWD’s theme is #EmbraceEquality, a chance to understand the difference between equity and equality and discuss why equal opportunities aren’t enough.
Isabel Garza-Garcia, Vogelzang Law’s Operations Manager, explains why encouraging women is critical, “It is important to recognize women’s achievements and challenges they went through to get ahead in their careers to continue to inspire young women to be successful.” Lupe Maldanodo, VL’s Settlement Processing Manager, adds on, “It is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements while recognizing their resilience.”
We know a few things about women in the workplace, some pointing towards progress, others showing how far we have to go. Women account for 46.6% of the workforce in the U.S., a statistic still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Women dominate education and health services, making up 74.8% of the workforce. Conversely, only 22% of C-suite executives are women. And a staggering 64% will face microaggressions over their careers. There is still a gender pay gap, and glass ceilings remain unshattered.
But are women in a better place today than yesterday? When it comes to the legal field, the answer is yes.
According to the American Bar Association, in 2021, women made up 38% of all lawyers, up 7% over the previous decade. The trend continues in law school, where women now outnumber men. In 2021, there were 12,800 more female students than males.
The judiciary fares even better. In 1980, there were only 36 female federal judges, compared to the 424 women on the federal bench today. Nearly one-third of all federal judges are women. In state Supreme Courts, women comprise 41% of all high-court justices.
While placing women in firm leadership roles continues to be an uphill battle, firms are making positive changes and recognizing the talent they have access to. Attorney Chloe Morrison has noticed the same thing, “The majority of attorneys have been male for much of history. However, when attending law school, the student population was pretty much an even split between men and women. I’m excited to see more and more women in the legal field as time goes on.”
How The Women of Vogelzang Law Are Making a Difference
Vogelzang Law is more than a law firm. We see beyond clients and cases to issues that don’t always cross our desks. The firm is brimming with strong, resourceful, and talented women in a variety of roles across leadership and management.
Sadie Rose leads our bankruptcy team, joined by Chloe Morrison and Rocio Herrera. This formidable team of women has an astounding 78.2% success rate on paid claims. Their dedication and hard work prove that the Notorious RBG was right. “In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ‘[w]omen belong in all places where decisions are being made,’” said Chloe, when asked what advice she would offer to young women starting out.
Caylei Vogelzang, the founder of Cancer Wellness Magazine, is integral to the success of VL’s mission to provide more than legal services to clients. She also offers them resources, education, and connections in the wider cancer community. Caylei is a staunch proponent of amplifying voices and giving people a platform to shine. She said, “The path of women through history may be generally characterized as one of resilience. This resilience may not be defined simply by a will to withstand or resist, but also to bend and move like wind or water; to find a way forward.” She has given women beaten down by their cancer diagnoses an opportunity to talk freely and share their experiences in a safe space. Her work has spotlighted women like Maria Gonzalez-Crespo and Heather Von St. James, founder of Lung Leavin’ Day.
Much of VL’s success can be attributed to Mirela Kopier and Maddie Drescher, the firm’s PR powerhouse. Mirela and Maddie are changing the way law firms are perceived in the community, showing what true caring and compassion looks like.
Mirela shared a moment that encapsulates what she does, “There was one moment in my career that I look back on often. The day I presented my first ever MRFJ check to the executive director of the Meso Foundation. I had never hosted a 5K race and wasn’t really sure I would be able to get any participants, much less raise almost 7K. The appreciation from the ED of the organization was by far one of my proudest moments.”
As we move into a more digital world, the personal touch can often be lost, especially concerning PR and community outreach. Maddie sees around the corners and advocates for temperance, “As we continue to make massive strides in the world of technology, AI, etc. it’s important to understand that all of these automated functions originally had humans creating it – humans with inherent biases that we all have, but we don’t always see. As these giant leaps continue, this means staying aware that AI, automation, and other technological advances, no matter how unbiased as we may be conditioned to perceive them, may very well still contain biases against women, especially women of intersectional identities (i.e. race, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.). We must remain vigilant and critical of these advances while pushing for more women and diverse women to be involved in the creation of these advances as they continue – and that starts with developing pathways of education for young girls to become interested, encouraged, and involved in STEM at early ages.”
Working Towards An Equal Future: Addressing the Gender Gap
Vogelzang Law is fortunate to have a cadre of diverse and accomplished women from various backgrounds in our office. Of 35 total employees, 24 are women, with many in management and leadership positions.
As women continue the fight for equality in all aspects of life, our voices offer some final thoughts.
Bo Brown, the firm’s Finance/Administrative Assistant, thinks back on the best piece of advice she was given. “You’re allowed to have an opinion, idea, or observation and not apologize for it. I can’t remember who said that to me, probably one of the many women I have worked with over the years. I think that habit has faded for younger women over the past 10 years or so, but it’s a strong one for those of us who have been around for a while longer.” She goes on to offer sage advice to young women everywhere, “Don’t be complacent. It may seem like all the battles have been won, but, as I hope we’ve become painfully aware recently, it doesn’t take much time for attempts to erode and suppress the rights of women to take hold. Women around the world are still suffering, and women in the United States are not immune. Pay attention. Vote responsibly. Don’t ever shut up.”
Isabel Garza-Garcia recounts what inspires and motivates her to achieve more, “My daughter inspires me. If I can continue to show her how successful I have become as a Latina, she will strive to be just as successful, if not more.”
Gloria Mandudi, one of VL’s spectacular Litigation Paralegals, looks around her and sees the women in her family taking charge of their futures. “My older sister, who has become an amazing mother to four amazing children. My three younger sisters have grown to be smart, educated, beautiful, and strong women. My brother is strong, educated, and continues to protect all his five sisters.”
The women around us are often the blueprint of how it’s done. Camille Tolentino, firm Docketing/Records Specialist, says, “My parents and older sister inspire me. Growing up, they have shown me what it means to persevere and be resilient.”
Success is a fluid concept and is constantly changing as the world evolves. The outlook for young women today is drastically different from just ten years ago. Mirela Kopier knows what it takes, “Pay attention! In whatever field you start out in, there have been people before you. Whether good, bad, or ugly, people have been doing what you want to do up to this point. So pay attention and learn and see if you can continue the good work or improve on it or make it better.”
Today, and every day, let’s honor and remember the women that have come before us, set the standard, and sacrificed for change. We have the opportunity to be the vehicle of change and drive gender parity.
International Women’s Day is all-inclusive and should be celebrated by everyone, everywhere.