The opportunity for a legal education is an incredible gift that is often taken for granted in developed nations.
On Wednesday, August 5 from 6:30-10 p.m., Ms. JD Global Education Fund (GEF) will be holding an annual cocktail benefit and silent auction at Monarch SF in San Francisco, to help raise money for two Ugandan women to pursue the law program at Makerere University in Uganda.
Created in 2006 by female students from universities around the country, Ms. JD is a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement of women lawyers and female students pursuing a law degree. The nonprofit later created GEF to give women in developing nations a chance to attend law school. GEF focused its efforts on Uganda because of discrimination against the “girl child” there, and lack of access to education: at the time the fund started, 45% of Ugandan women over the age of 25 had not received any schooling. Compare that to the fact that 99% of women in US have had some education. GEF funds 100% of tuition, fees, housing, food, and academic support for each scholar enrolled in Makerere University’s four-year law program, at a cost of less than $2,500 per student per year.
Along with raising money for GEF, the third annual cocktail benefit and concert will also celebrate the Ms. JD Scholars Gracious Atuhaire, Mary Nakale, Patience Winnie Apai, Brenda Abiria, Sarah Olalo Akoth, Esther Niwamanya, Asio Esther, and Nzira Allen. In addition, the event will feature live music by Bay Area law firm bands, hors d'ouevres, networking opportunities, and a silent auction featuring over $20,000 in items from 7-night stays at luxury Caribbean resorts to tickets to see the San Francisco Giants. Not to mention plenty of dancing! Melissa Gardner, an associate at Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein, is the Program Director of Ms. JD’s Global Education Fund and will be the co-chair of the event along with Deval Patel, an attorney and Project Manager at Square. “The Ms. JD Scholars are selected based on their economic hardship, leadership potential, and dedication to helping other women succeed against the odds,” said Gardner. “They appreciate this scholarship more than you can imagine, and they’re going to make a real difference for other women in Uganda.”
2L Antionette Rodriguez, a member of the Planning Committee for GEF, said that the event will give attendees a sense of the importance of legal education around the world. “The legal profession can be very intimidating because it's a male-dominated profession, but Ms. JD creates a space where women can rise, be celebrated for their success, and be an example for incoming lawyers of what is possible — seeing female partners, board members, and CFOs is believing,” Rodriguez said. “I also love that it supports women locally as well as globally specifically in law school and the legal profession,” she added.
When Rodriguez moved to San Francisco last year, she joined the UC Hastings chapter of Ms. JD as a GEF volunteer to connect with other female lawyers. She said that the opportunity has exceeded her expectations by introducing her to female lawyers who are devoted to the success of other women in their profession.
To find out more about the event and to support Ms. JD and the Ugandan women lawyers, visit the GEF Facebook events page.