As Fordham Law School begins to celebrate Women’s History Month, we spoke with Zoe Buzinkai ’22 and Katharine Keane ’23—3L president and 2L president, respectively, of Fordham Law Women—about what it’s been like to lead the affinity group during the pandemic, the group’s mentorship initiatives and advocacy goals, and plans to celebrate the achievements of alumnae and current Fordham Law community members this year.
What led you to join Fordham Law Women?
ZB: I first joined Fordham Law Women as a 1L during the fall 2019 semester because I was looking for a group within the Law School where I could have a support system. Because I don’t have any lawyers in my family, I wanted to be surrounded by people I knew I could trust to guide me and show me the ropes through my law school journey. I found that within Fordham Law Women, which made me want to step into a leadership position last year as the 2L president. One of Fordham Law Women’s main goals throughout the years that I’ve been part of the group has been fostering a sense of community—where you know everybody wants to support each other and help each other succeed. As 3L president, I hope to continue creating new programming and initiatives that last well beyond my time at the Law School.
KK: I decided to join Fordham Law Women for a few reasons, particularly because I attended an all-girls Catholic high school and value having a women-led community around me and rallying behind me. When I started law school in 2020, I was really looking for a group that I could become a part of and get involved with immediately. Even as a 1L, it was really wonderful to get to know Zoe and our former 3L president, Krista Gresia ’21. Now that I’m serving as the group’s 2L president, I must say that working with Zoe this year has been an absolute gift. It’s been really fun to work together—and I don’t think we would have met had it not been for Fordham Law Women.
This is the first year “back” on campus amid an ongoing pandemic. What have been Fordham Law Women’s goals for the 2021-22 academic year?
ZB: Our goals for this year have been similar to what we’ve done in the past—holding a wide range of meetings and activities within the Law School, ranging from a robust year-round mentorship program that pairs 1Ls with 2Ls and 3Ls to networking programs with firms, public interest organizations, and government organizations. We also strive to foster a sense of community through student-oriented activities, including a pumpkin painting night before Halloween. I believe it was a nice opportunity, especially for the 1L members who are under such incredible amounts of stress, to have some fun and actually get to know each other through the simple act of painting. Beyond that, we organize and host more issue-oriented events throughout the school year, like our annual symposium and trigger warning discussion amongst Fordham Law faculty and students.
KK: After learning remotely last year and having limited opportunities to socialize, Zoe and I were intentional in our planning last summer. We wanted to foster that sense of community that most people longed for throughout the pandemic. We hosted an event this fall wherein Fordham Law Women members met in person, picked up lunches, and sat together in a big classroom, listening to a slate of law firm attorneys talk to us live over Zoom. That kind of hybrid experience has, I believe, given people the ability to connect from anywhere in and outside of New York City.
Fordham Law Women also hosted the second annual “Handling Triggering Topics in the Classroom” event on Feb. 10 with other Fordham Law affinity groups. We all believe it’s really important, especially for the 1Ls who are encountering some really challenging topics in the classroom—be it in criminal law or constitutional law—to share their concerns and feelings. But what made this year’s event special was the openness and collaboration between students and professors. We’re thankful that the professors were willing to attend and ask us questions, offering all of us opportunities to directly articulate our feelings and needs.
What’s in store for Fordham Law Women the remainder of the semester and how do you plan to celebrate Women’s History Month?
KK: Our fourth annual symposium, titled “Women’s Issues in 2022 and How to Use Your JD to Address Them” will be held on International Women’s Day (March 8, 4-7 p.m., via Zoom) and kick off Women’s History Month. This year, Zoe and I felt it was especially important for the symposium subject matter to be intersectional because the definition of what it is to be women and how to support women are changing with the way that society is changing. When we decided on the three panel topics—gender identity, refugee and migrant rights, and the state of reproductive rights and healthcare in the United States—we were intentional about how timely they were and how relevant they would be to both Fordham Law students and attorneys attending for CLE credits.
ZB: As an attendee of previous symposia, I’ve often felt that you walk away learning so much, but not necessarily knowing what you can do with that information. It’s daunting because you learn about what’s going on in the world, how lawyers are needed, and how the law is so important—but there are very few tangible steps given, I think, in a lot of situations. So when Katy and I began planning this symposium last summer, we wanted to make sure that we invited a diverse group of practitioners and guests to speak to their experiences and offer advice. Our goal is to have attendees leave our symposium feeling informed from different points of view and that they have tangible steps for how they can use their J.D. degrees beyond law school and in the legal profession.
KK: We’re also hosting a financial literacy symposium on Wednesday, March 30, aiming to share important financial information with students who are either dealing with loans or are potentially entering a big law environment where they’re going to earn a lot of money. We always hear about how women are less financially established than men at various points in their careers, so we want to ensure that anyone—men, women, and anyone who identifies otherwise—can join us and learn more about how they can financially set themselves up for the future. Plus, we’re hoping to host our year-end event, which hasn’t been held since 2019, in either April or May to bring Fordham Law Women together again to celebrate the end of the school year. Details will be forthcoming!
ZB: Our weekly newsletter will feature an attorney highlight series with prominent alumni this month, so stay tuned for that! We’re also planning to hold a paint-by-number event/afternoon on Wednesday, March 9, 4-6 p.m.
Speaking of Women’s History Month, what does this month-long celebration mean to each of you?
KK: I think what’s really special about Women’s History Month is that it’s an opportunity to shine a light on the accomplishments of women today and throughout history. Given the fact that we are an affinity group dedicated to women’s issues, this a great opportunity for us, as students, to celebrate our own accomplishments, the accomplishments of Fordham Law alumnae and women at Fordham Law, and continue to build our community.
ZB: I think it’s amazing how far women have come and, yet, there’s still a very far way to go. So it’s a celebration and reminder to keep working hard, but an opportunity, too, to thank the people who have come before us in the past and to set students in the future up for success.
If students are interested in learning more about Fordham Law Women and attending these programs, how can they connect with you?
ZB: The best ways to connect with us are by email and by following us on Instagram. We send out a weekly newsletter—which students can still sign up for—that lists upcoming Fordham Law Women-led events, other Fordham Law events going on, external events hosted by firms and organizations, and any other events and opportunities that we think are relevant to our organization and members. Also, if any 1Ls who didn’t have a chance to sign up for our mentorship program during the fall 2021 semester have questions related to the program (or Fordham Law Women in general), they’re more than welcome to reach out to Katy or myself directly. We’re more than happy to point them in the right direction, assist in any way, and make sure they’re set up for success.