The Women's Law Association has developed in response to the increased awareness of the impact of the law on women and the impact of the growing number of women attorneys on the law. Through its educational activities, the WLA encourages the development of a network among women at the law school, women practitioners in all branches of the legal field, women in the judiciary, and organizations in the state that are concerned with issues affecting women.
Fall Semester: Outstanding Alumna Award
Every fall semester the Women’s Law Association awards one alumna for outstanding contributions to the legal community. Nominations are collected from the students, faculty, and staff throughout the fall semester and WLA members choose a recipient by the beginning of November. In mid-November WLA hosts an event to honor the recipient, which is always well-attended by prominent local attorneys and judges, as well as Maine Law students and faculty.
Past recipients have included: United States Attorney Paula Silsby, Judge Beth Dobson, Justice Nancy Mills, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, Nancy Wanderer, Jennifer Archer, and Sara Gagne-Holmes.
Spring Semester: Mentor/Mentee Event
Each spring the Women’s Law Association works with the Women’s Section of the Maine Bar to pair every interested law student with a mentor. Mentors are practicing attorneys or judges who are willing to donate some of their time to provide guidance and advice to the student mentees. Pairing is done based on shared interests.
After each mentor/mentee pair is made, WLA hosts an event, usually at the Cumberland Club, where the mentors and mentees can meet one another. This event is also a wonderful opportunity for local practitioners and students to socialize with old friends and make some new connections.
Women’s Law Association Scholarship
The Women’s Law Association offers a scholarship opportunity for Maine Law students who show a dedication to women’s issues and academic excellence.
Women’s Law Association Fellowship
In 2009 the Women’s Law Association began fundraising to create the WLA Fellowship. The Fellowship will be awarded every spring to a Maine Lawstudent who chooses to spend his/her summer working in furtherance of women’s rights.
WLA is committed to being involved in both the community and the law school. Therefore, in addition to our two annual events, we usually host a series of smaller scale events throughout the school year. These events have included guest speakers, a Women for Women International event, fundraisers, and a cell phone drive for victims of domestic violence.
We are always looking for ideas for new events. If you have an idea for an event that will either help educate the community about a current women's issue or that will allow us to help the women in our community, please email us at WLA@usm.maine.edu.