As Fordham Law School celebrates Women’s History Month, we spoke with Zoe Buzinkai ’22 and Krista Gresia ’21—2L president and 3L president, respectively, of Fordham Law Women—about the affinity group’s networking initiatives, the challenges faced by women in law school and the legal profession, advocacy goals, and how they are planning to honor Fordham alumnae.
What have been Fordham Law Women’s goals for the 2020-21 academic year?
KG: We try to hold events related to networking, which include having alumni come and talk to students about their firms, the interview process, and other key networking skills. Then, on the student side, we present panels related to student issues, such as class selection, how to prepare for interviews, and how to properly prepare for your upcoming exams. We also hold some fun events. Last December, for example, we had a virtual workout class that served as our ‘stress reliever’ event. This semester, our main focus is on our symposium and Women’s History Month.
ZB: This year, especially, we wanted to make sure the 1Ls feel involved, just because it is such a strange year to be starting law school. As Krista mentioned, we’ve continued to maintain our mentorship program and have made sure that anybody who has signed up to be a mentor is regularly meeting with their 1L mentee. We’ve also held issue-oriented events this year, like a guest speaker coming in the fall semester to talk about the Equal Rights Amendment and the likelihood it would ever be enacted as an actual amendment. At the end of the day, Fordham Law Women aims to be a holistic organization that not only highlights issues, but is a place and support system for students to feel comfortable and connect with one another.
The year is more than halfway over. Has Fordham Law Women had any major accomplishments so far?
KG: The Trigger Warnings event we held during the first week of February was a major milestone and huge success because it gave light to an issue that a lot of students face in classes. By trigger warnings, we mean verbal or written warnings from professors about sensitive topics that are coming up in the next class, just as a way to forewarn students that have either personally experienced certain trauma and experiences or students that have been historically discriminated against. There was so much bravery from the students who discussed their experiences and provided a lot of good feedback for ways Fordham Law can improve and be an even better place than it already is.
What’s in store for the group this Women’s History Month and how do you plan to celebrate it?
ZB: For Women’s History Month, we’re trying to highlight a variety of alumnae from the Law School and hope to organize more intimate conversations between those alumnae and small groups of students. Each week, we plan to bring in somebody from a different area of the law, so that they can have an open conversation about what it’s like to be a successful woman, what their academic and professional paths were like, and answer any questions students may have. Our third annual symposium—which will be held on Friday, March 5, from 11 am to 2 pm—really focuses on issues that are important to women in general and to women in the law in respect to COVID-19. The experts we’ve invited to talk will not only address these issues, but will also present ways as to how we can move forward.
KG: In the past, our symposiums have always highlighted some type of policy issue related to gender. This year’s symposium, which has been organized into three panels, is about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on gender. The first panel focuses on COVID’s impact on women in the workforce—for example, examining whether women have had to take a leave of absence or take steps back in their jobs. The second panel looks at COVID’s impact on marginalized women, including how it’s affected people of color, people with disabilities, and those in the LGBTQ community. The final panel is about the response to domestic violence and how COVID-19 has impacted the access to justice and has affected the court system, in light of the pandemic.
If students are interested in learning more about the Fordham Law Women, how can they connect with you?
ZB: Anybody who’s interested in the topics is more than welcomed to come—you don’t have to be a woman to attend our events. The subjects we talk about go beyond certain demographics and we’ve been able to partner up with other student groups for various events, which highlights how many angles there are to every issue. Our Instagram is @Fordhamlawwomen and we also send out weekly newsletters. They can email us at Fordhamlawwomen@gmail.com and we’ll add them to our LISTSERV, which will keep them up to date on all the events we have planned.
KG: As Zoe was saying, we’ve partnered with other student groups in executing events. We held a sports law panel with the Sports Law Society on Feb. 23, and we’ll be co-sponsoring an upcoming workout class with LALSA for a wellness program that focuses on imposter syndrome. It’s really nice to do these get-togethers with other student groups and leaders because it does broaden the number of students who attend. Because, like Zoe said, a lot of times people do think our events are only for women and that’s not the case. We want as many people to come to them as possible because we want to help as many students as possible, no matter the event topic.