St Tammany Women In Law
By Ann Benoit, nola.com, February 25, 2016

History happened on Feb. 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Beck ‘n’ Call Café in Covington.

St. Tammany Bar Association president Elizabeth Sconzert of Blue Williams held the first meeting of the Women in Law section.

Co-chairs of the section are Kelly Brian of Blue Williams and Christie Forrester of Peragine Law Firm.

The purpose of the section is to provide St. Tammany women lawyers with a networking group, a mentoring group for new women lawyers, a social outlet, and a way to contribute to the community through educational and charitable activities.

If the group has a little fun along the way, all the better.

Meetings will vary between breakfast, lunch and after-hours. Male attorneys who are members of the St. Tammany Bar, formally known as the 22nd JDC Bar Association, are welcome as section members.

The group plans to address the needs of local non-profits that focus on young adults. The group also wants to provide pro bono work on an ad hoc basis to another non-profit addressing legal issues encountered by female victims of abuse.

Lawyers present at the founding meeting were section co-chair Christie Forrester of Peragine Law Firm, Bailey Morse of Jones Fussell, Rachael Catalanotto of Talley, Anthony, Hughes & Knight, Bar Association President Elizabeth Sconzert of Blue Williams, section co-chair Kelly Brian of Blue Williams, Diane Dicke of 22nd JDC Div. D, Judge Dawn Amacker, Sarabeth Bradley of Magee, Zeringue & Richardson, Patti Oppenheim Hearing Officer Div. K and current President of the Junior League of Covington, Erinn Neyrey of Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips, Angelique Walgamotte, Staff Counsel for Safeway Insurance Co. and Lindsey Ladouceur of Ladouceur & Ladouceur.

“This is a wonderful organization that we are trying to get together,” Catalanotto said. “We’d like support from St. Tammany. This is a small community so to have something like this is great and I’m looking forward to being involved.”

When I was in law school, 30 percent of my freshman class were women. By the time we graduated, 50 percent of the graduating class were women. Since then, things seem to have leveled out. According to the ABA, 47 percent of most freshman law school classes are women and 46 percent of the graduates are women.

Once out of law school, things change.

When a woman enters practice, it is her ability to bring in her own clients that determines her level of success.

The bigger the client, the more successful the lawyer — man or woman. In the end, it is how many client dollars you bring to the table and how many future dollars in client billings you will take with you if you walk.

“I’m hoping the Women in Law section helps female students and interns navigate their way into the legal profession and empowers my fellow female attorneys to embrace the unique skill sets they share with the profession,” Sconzert said. “We plan to identify certain needs of our legal community and educate the entire membership about the dynamic impact that is and can be made by our female members of the profession.”

As a lawyer I worked primarily in Orleans and Jefferson.

Orleans was dominated by large firms representing corporate clients and doing primarily civil defense, regulatory and transaction work. Jefferson was dominated by small and solo firms representing individuals and doing family law and small business work.

St. Tammany is unusual. Many satellite offices of big firms from New Orleans and Baton Rouge and many small or solo firms are located here.

St. Tammany has many versions of the legal profession.

The Women in Law group represents all of those nuances. It’s a good place for a woman lawyer to find her own best path. If you are a lawyer and want to join, contact the Women in Law section at judy@22ndjdcbar.org.

Witness a little history on your own.