Interview with the Two Georgia Attorneys Who Co-Chaired the Friends Committee for the National Association of Women Judges Conference

By Timur Selimovic, J.D. Candidate | Class of 2019 at GSU Law
Ms. Letitia A. McDonald (Tish) and Ms. Allegra Lawrence-Hardy were instrumental to the execution and success of the 39th annual conference of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), which was held in Atlanta in October 2017.   I interviewed both attorneys to ask why they devoted so much of their time and resources to making this conference successful.   Ms. McDonald told me she “jumped” at the opportunity to serve as a co-chair because she was thrilled that Atlanta (her city) would host a prominent event like the NAWJ conference.  Ms. McDonald also loved the idea of co-chairing the committee alongside Ms. Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, a lawyer and individual she admires personally and professionally – not least because of their shared experiences as working mothers.  Ms. Lawrence-Hardy said she became co-chair because she has been deeply influenced by female jurists during her career. Her first legal employer after law school was Judge Susan Black on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, through which she met many other female judges and jurists, from Atlanta and across the country. Ms. Lawrence-Hardy said that her personal and professional success is due in large part to having had wonderful mentors – “giants”– who were women and men, both white and African-American.   Ms. Lawrence-Hardy said her support of the NAWJ conference was an opportunity to pay that level of support forward, in appreciation of the influence and contributions so many female lawyers have had on her career and life.
As for the NAWJ conference itself, Ms. McDonald said the sessions with former president Jimmy Carter, former first lady Roslaynn Carter, and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates were invaluable.  The fact that both speakers have Georgia roots made it all the more special for the NAWJ conference to be in Atlanta.  Ms. McDonald was particularly struck by a panel she observed, which featured female judges from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Northern District of Georgia – something she has never seen in 25-plus years of law practice. Ms. Lawrence-Hardy thought the opportunity to hear remarks from a diverse group of dynamic speakers was important, especially from leading jurists like former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Leah Ward Sears, who for Ms. Lawrence-Hardy is a mentor, personal hero, and inspiration.  Judge Lisa Foster’s remarks on reform of fines, fees, and probationary charges is an example of cutting edge legal issues that will hopefully encourage collaboration to find solutions to highly complicated legal issues. Georgia was fortunate to have these leaders of the legal community step into such a vital role in bringing this important national conference to our state.

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