WLAM Mid-Michigan hosts annual Stell Reception

The Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) Mid-Michigan Region held its 23rd annual Carolyn Stell Reception on Nov. 4, featuring the Hon. Michelle M. Rick as keynote speaker.

Rick, who presides over the criminal court and family court dockets for Gratiot and Clinton counties, spoke about human trafficking and women in the law, two issues she is passionate about. She is Michigan's State Director for the National Association of Women Judges and a member of the Rural Courts Committee for NAWJ. This year, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed her to the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission. She is an Executive Member of the Michigan Judges Association, where she co-chairs the Outreach and Planning Committee, and serves as a member of the Legislative Committee. She is also on the Board of Directors for SafeCenter, an organization providing support to victims of domestic and sexual assault.

One of the key concepts Rick touched upon in her presentation was "word choice matters," and she gave several examples of how word choice can be demeaning or minimizing in professional and personal lives.

She also provided statistics regarding gender equality, (or "inequality" as she put it), from the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession from July 2014.

While women have been awarded 47.3 percent of Juris Doctor degrees, they only make up 27 percent of state court judges, 33.3 percent of U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 33.1 percent of Circuit Court of Appeals Court judges, and 24.1 percent of U.S. Federal judges. They make up 21 percent of Fortune 500 General Counsel, and 16.8 percent of Fortune 500-1000 General Counsel.

This year's recipient of a $1,000 scholarship in honor of Carolyn Stell, the first female judge in the Ingham County Circuit, was Michigan State University College of Law 2L student Kyla Barranco. Managing editor of the MSU Law International Law Review, Barranco is a member of the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Program, a member of the Moot Court Trial & Advocacy Board, a teaching assistant to the Moot Court Competition Class, and a member of the St. Thomas Moore Society.

While earning her undergraduate degree in political science, women studies and gender studies, cum laude, from Loyola University of Chicago, Barranco was involved in the Gannon Scholars Women and Leadership Program that focuses on strengthening the leadership skills of women through weekly meetings, research opportunities, and community involvement; and interned with the Domestic Violence Division of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

This interest in women studies continues at MSU where she recently authored a student note, "Canadian Sexual Assault Laws: A Model for Affirmative Consent?"

Sponsors of this WLAM event include Sinas, Dramis, Brake, Boughton & McIntyre, P.C. (platinum), Hon. Louise Alderson (gold), Shannon L.W. Schlegel, P.C. (silver), and attorney Nancy Wonch (silver).

Published: Thu, Nov 26, 2015