Dear Law Mama group,
This letter is to dispel rumors and put to rest any questions surrounding my sudden disappearance from the group. Over the past week, I created an illustration of a herd of llamas intended to be part of a gift to RBG. I posted the initial sketch and asked if anyone wanted to be featured as a llama and I can personalize with accessories, etc. I asked who the original Law Mama was and publicly offered to add her favorite accessories to the forefront llama standing next to RBG (but never heard back, so did not personalize it). The post received surprisingly positive feedback with tons of suggestions on adding the bird, books, pearls, shoes, bags, scarves, etc., many of which I incorporated into the final illustration. There were also several dozen requests for prints/tshirts/mugs of the painting when I finished, to which I always replied yes, I can do that.
I posted three ongoing snapshots of the work in progress and received comments back each time with more suggestions to incorporate and more requests for prints. On my last view of the post, it had 680+ likes and several hundred comments.
I also asked the group what the words at the bottom should be and proposed "11k and counting." There were many suggestions on this as well, ranging from "#lawma: we get it done" to "there are nine" to suggesting no words at all because "the herd is powerful enough." In the end, I decided to go with "#lawma" for its simplicity and this is the result.
I posted this sneak peak of the finished piece in the group on Wednesday evening:
Shortly thereafter, I received a private message from Nina Goldberg informing me the group rules do not allow selling items, including Law Mama merchandise. I tried to talk her out of it (since by then, there was a lot of expectation from the group and I was pretty excited to unveil the grand finale), but once she made her position clear, I acquiesced. Nina was gracious enough to say: "I'm fine with you sending it to Justice Ginsburg of course ... or offering it for free ... or doing as you like outside of this group without reference to the Law Mamas trademark." Upon learning about the trademark, I made sure to make myself clear that the trademark was "Law Mamas." The entirety of our short exchange is posted below.
As much as I disagreed with and was unhappy about Nina's decision, I respected it. I did not post anything else in the group. I did not post my finished illustration and did not respond to a single comment. I did, however, make the prints of my final work available for purchase on this website (depicted exactly as in the sneak peak above that prompted Nina's message).
The next day, I went to the beach with my family and discovered that at some point during the day, my post had been deleted and I was kicked out of the group. I messaged Nina and asked why that happened when I did exactly as she requested. There was no response.
Since then, I've become aware that there is shock and surprise among many group members at my sudden removal. And that --as an explanation-- perhaps my removal was deserved because I was warned not to use anything resembling law-ma anywhere, that I was told to not sell at all, that I am infringing on a trademark, or that I am taking advantage of the likeness and characteristics of the group. Well, see for yourself the conversation below that none of this is true.
The truth is, I don't know why I was removed. Except that I upset the original Law Mama despite agreeing to her terms. I don't think it is fair, but this is the Internet. It's a Facebook group that she created and she has worked hard to set up a caring and supportive community of women lawyers who are also mothers. I appreciate and acknowledge the work she has put in and the power that she has earned. I have enjoyed the community for many months and will miss being a part of it.
Normally, I am not one to rock the boat and make waves. Yet after much thought, I am posting this for two reasons.
First, it is important to me as a partner of an IP litigation firm to make clear that I am not interested in infringing Nina's trademark.
Second and perhaps more importantly, this is the only forum I can share this information because others fear retaliation if they share on my behalf. In this group of lawyer mothers created to foster community and support, there is no place for free speech if it offends the one at the top. All posts relating to me have and are still being deleted - posts made by unsolicited strangers who see the injustice being done. They want to make a statement but they are legitimately afraid of being kicked out of the community they love so much.
I started this painting as a tribute to RBG and, through everyone's contribution, it developed into what I believe to embody the group's core values of friendship, solidarity, diversity, and mutual support. That is what I said in my FB post before I was kicked out and that belief has not changed. Now, I simply hope this bit of transparency can be shared and remain transparent to pave the way to a better community. Though I am no longer part of the group, I feel your support and the support you lend each other. We are lawyers and we are mothers. Carry on, you are doing a good thing.
Lastly, here are some fun bits of the illustration I didn't get a chance to share in the big unveil. I hope you feel the strength, resilience, and good nature of our community whenever you look at it because that is what this herd represents.
- The law reporters are actually L. Ma Rev. books. Look closely at the tiny white writing;
- Llamas wear Shoes;
- I finally figured out what is The Bag;
- Stanley's new hairdo;
- There's a Bluebook in there. Sorry, couldn't help myself >D;
- Someone asked me to put in a "smart ass." So there is a rather intelligent donkey amidst the herd;
- Several people asked for the Anonymous Posters to be represented somehow. They are in the shadow and they are many. They are the reason the background is yellow. Because they have a voice, they are us, and we make up the herd.
This is the entirety of my generally civil and not unpleasant communications with Nina and/or the admins. I don't even know who the admins are.