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Poisoned Partnership and the Price of My Silence

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This is the tale of how the acrimonious and ongoing dissolution of my former legal partnership forced me to face the ways in which women get silenced for the privilege of demanding what is owed to them. One way to break that cycle is to make my silence worthless. So here is my story. In 2016 I started freelancing for an attorney in Aspen, CO. His name is David A. Bovino of www.bovinolaw.com. Immediately, I was doing a lot of legal research and writing, drafting, and strategizing legal arguments. It was good work which supplemented my budding solo practice. Eventually, he asked me if I wanted to take a share of the recovery in two cases (let's call them Case A and Case B) in exchange for not getting paid hourly. He also said I had to pay him back for what I had already earned on those cases. I found it a little petty but said fine and did so. I now had a share in Case A and Case B. As the weeks went by it became clear that I was doing the heavy lifting in these cases and had an exce…

Sexual Harassment as an Act of Aggression: It's More Than Just Words.

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Sexual harassment is pervasive. According to the EEOC, 85% of women are sexual harassed at work and in fact, 45% of EEOC harassment claims are sex-based. Yet, even these high numbers only represent a fraction of existing sexual harassment. According to the EEOC, 75% of workplace sexual harassment goes unreported. There are a number of reasons for this. One of them, undoubtedly is the high rate of retaliation—75%--which makes it dangerous for women to come forward. Further, accountability and rectification of the situation remain elusive. A victim may come forward, risk everything, and lose everything while the abuser continues to enjoy success and accolades. Certainly, examples like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein perfectly exemplify this. But why are employers still so bad at preventing and addressing sexual harassment? Because sexual harassment is still viewed as an issue of “politeness,” “political correctness,” and “inappropriate behavior.” Sexual harassment is none of those thing…

The Expulsion of Rep. Steve Lebsock: These Are Not Your Hunting Grounds, Anymore.

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On March 2, 2018, Colorado Representative Steve Lebsock was expelled from the Colorado Assembly for acts of sexual harassment against five women. Writing this sentence gives me goosebumps: it actually happened, someone was held accountable!
Rep. Lebsock harassed numerous women. Five came forward describing various lewd and offensive acts. For example, one woman described Rep. Lebsock reaching out, unprompted, and unbuttoning her shirt while they stood at a public function. Another woman, a lobbyist, described him asking her to have sex. She responded it was “off the table” and he answered, “It doesn’t have to be on the table.” And of course, his colleague Rep. Faith Winter came forward to explain that she said “No,” not once, not twice, five times, while Rep. Lebsock grabbed her arm. There are several other examples contained in the report developed by an outside investigator.
First, why do these statements and actions matter? What makes them offensive? While I know why these words and …

If You’re Not Angry About the “Gun Debate,” Get Out of My Way: I’m Angry for the Both of Us.

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I don’t know how I found out there was an “active shooter” situation affecting my children’s schools. One moment I was having a normal day and the next my kids were being held at their Elementary and Middle Schools, as well as the nearby daycare until the situation was “resolved.” I remember sitting in my living room watching the door, listening to the silence left by the absence of four children. The time for them to come home had come and gone. And I waited. There is nothing like the heaviness of silence left by the absence of children, nothing. I heard the helicopters flying overhead, wondered if they were police or news, and waited. I didn’t know whether it was one or more shooters. I didn't know if shots had been fired or where the shooter was or how heavily armed he was. I imagined a white male with an AR-15 roaming my streets. I live five minutes from the school so I didn’t know where the threat was but I knew it was close. And I waited.
Finally, unable to take it anymore, I…

The Angry Teenagers: The Heroes We Don’t Deserve.

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A review of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and news outlets illustrates the Gun Debate madness: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. The conversations are the same; the talking points are the same, the outcome is the same, which is what extreme gun advocates want. And we give them what they want. Politicians follow suit, by also failing to take action. Liberals and conservatives jump on various bandwagons and fall into the trap of thinking that there is no middle ground. And on either side of the aisle, adults fail to take the lead.

I don’t claim to make comprehensive policy suggestions in Facebook posts, Instagram hashtags, or 240-character Tweets. And I certainly don’t claim to offer comprehensive policy changes in an 1154-word blog post. However, I do suggest some retorts to soundbites which were meant to and were able to, halt all sound governance on the subject of gun control.

First, let’s take the big one: “Banning all guns violates the Second Amen…

Women's Right to Vote is Not 100 Years Old: The Continued Whitewashing of US History.

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Try Googling the sentence “US Women’s Right to Vote.” The first entry, the featured one, states, "Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote. The 19th amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote."
This is false. 
More importantly, it is ignorant and harmful. And yet, we unthinkingly accept it as true, time and time again. Over the weekend I was at an American Bar Associations Women’s Caucus meeting, and a lovely speaker stood up in front of the assembled female attorneys to tell us about the wonderful things the ABA had planned to celebrate the centenary of women’s right to vote. There was clapping and silent shoulder-patting. There were three black women in the room. They were immersed in their phones. Now, I indeed cannot read their minds and I have no idea if they were simply focusing on work (as I do during most meetings) or pointedly uninterested because they knew this conversation …

Why #MeToo Has Not Gone Far Enough: Due Process and the Price of Transparency.

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Since the spark that lit the #MeToo movement, harassers and abusers have been unmasked by victims coming forward, finally coming out of the shadows, sometimes for the first time in decades. From the members of the US Gymnastics team coming forward against Larry Nassar to actresses telling their stories of victimization by Harvey Weinstein, the tree of sexual aggression has been shaken and rotten fruits are falling down left and right. The list of men accused of predatory behavior keeps growing:  Matt Lauer, Bill O’ReillyR. KellyLouis CK, Woody Allen, Russell Simmons, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, and of course Donald Trump. Some have launched and contributed to the “Shitty Media Men” list. As described by The Daily Beast, “The accusations levelled in the spreadsheet (the versions this writer saw contained dozens of men) veer into criminal behavior, including physical and sexual assault. Some men’s names are highlighted in red, to indicated that they’ve been accused of 'physical …