Strong relationships are the beating heart of a strong community. Fostering those relationships, by creating portals to Jewish life that meet people where they are, is the goal of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s strategy for investing in community.
The Federation enables Jewish legal professionals to deepen community connections through the Cardozo Society, the Federation’s affinity group for attorneys and law students and the official Washington State Bar Association minority bar for Jewish lawyers. Cardozo (named after US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo) provides regular learning experiences and social gatherings, continuing education, an annual Passover lunch, and the yearly L’Dor V’Dor Award gathering.
Under the leadership of attorneys Jenna Goltermann and Aric Bomsztyk, the Cardozo Society is expanding its reach. An example is the Cardozo Society Fellowship, a unique opportunity for a diverse group of law students and attorneys in their first five years of practice to engage with and learn from an accomplished lawyer or judge. The initiative aims to build connections among colleagues that will provide opportunities for personal and professional career growth.
The four-month fellowship, which began January 24 and concludes May 14, is designed to fit with a busy schedule and law practice. Fellows meet with mentors at least three times over the period and attend two program sessions with the cohort, which are geared toward deepening leadership and presentation skills.
Through participation, law students and newer attorneys will:
- Gain mentorship — Cultivate a meaningful relationship with a mentor who is a seasoned legal professional, exploring and sharing resources and knowledge;
- Gain a community of peers — Share peer-to-peer perspectives and experiences to enhance their legal practice;
- Gain access to career-building opportunities — Access invitation-only networking events provided by their mentor;
- Gain an appreciation of their legal practice through a Jewish lens — Explore and engage with Jewish values through exposure to Jewish thought leadership.
“It’s important to meet others in the cohort, because the more people you know, the more people know you. It’s an important part of building community,” Bomsztyk says. The enhanced mentorship program is an example of Federation’s work to connect people to Jewish life through immersive, cohort-based experiences.
One of Cardozo’s strategic aims is engaging more young legal professionals in order to ensure the continuity of Jewish life in the legal community. “We’re building stronger relationships with the law students’ organizations at (the University of Washington and Seattle University) to support them, to let them know there’s a whole team of people in Seattle who want to see them be successful, to connect them with mentors, and be part of the conversation,” Goltermann says.
Cardozo also plays a key role in continuing education for Jewish legal professionals. Every attorney practicing in Washington state is obligated to complete a fixed number of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit hours. Cardozo Society CLE courses not only help attorneys fulfill their CLE requirements, but create community through learning experiences that explore a topic through a Jewish lens. “Only Cardozo can put on a Jewish CLE,” Bomszytk notes.
In the past three years, Cardozo has presented well-attended CLEs on hate speech, legislation to counter the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, affordable housing, and paid family leave.
Looking ahead, Goltermann says, attorneys want CLEs on “timely and important” topics, including “constitutional issues that you don’t deal with day to day.” A strong benefit of Cardozo’s CLEs, she adds, is building relationships with other minority bars, so that “we support each other.”
Opportunities to learn and connect are weaving relationships among Jewish legal professionals. These relationships are the foundation stone of community.
“I think it’s exciting to see Cardozo’s direction and its reach grow every year,” Goltermann notes.
Cardozo Impact, By the Numbers
195: Event Registrants in Fiscal Year 2019
1,189: Current Newsletter Subscribers
1,985: Event Registrants Since Program Launch in 2009