"Defend Like a Girl" class receives commendation from Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks

By Tara Aschenbrand, Principal, Squire Patton Boggs

If someone told you they were planning a self-defense class as a women's mentoring and networking opportunity, you might be left scratching your head. As it turns out, the one held in early June at Squire Patton Boggs accomplished everything it set out to do and more.

For many years, Squire has sponsored a firmwide women's initiative. With an emphasis on relationship building, the women's mentoring program aims to empower women in the workforce through networking events and professional development.

In December, we co-sponsored, with the Ohio Women's Bar Association, a well-attended program that focused on building a leadership style based on the most effective personality traits – something called "executive presence."

This time, we were looking for something that spoke to women's everyday needs. Women are always looking for ways to improve themselves not just professionally but also personally. As we brainstormed ideas, our group discussed how professional women are extremely busy, juggling families as well as sometimes brutal work schedules. What could we do for women that would include family members?

That's when we began to discuss the possibility of including the next generation of young women and even extended family. Susan DiMickele, co-leader of the firm's global Labor & Employment practice, suggested what better way to involve everybody – our lawyers, our clients and daughters, granddaughters, nieces and mentees – than a self-defense class?

Thus, "Defend Like a Girl" was born. Led by Terri Rosen, owner of Ohio Krav Maga+Fitness, the session began with a discussion on self-protection followed by a hands-on demonstration focused on the principles of self-defense. We learned self-defense is a last resort and that self-protection is preventative measures to be taken at all times to ensure our personal safety. This includes situational awareness, confident body language and good decision-making. "Defend Like a Girl" lasted an hour and a half, and none of the 23 adults and 20 or so children left early, as we shouted while striking our padded partners.

The session was fun, and it accomplished three other important goals: strengthening relationships by getting outside of our professional boxes, sharing experiences with the next generation of female professionals and filling an important need in our community. Many women either feel powerless to take charge of their own self-defense or overlook the need, believing it won't happen to them or someone else will protect them. We know from too many headlines that, in real life, it doesn't always work that way.

We were all surprised when Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks presented us with a commendation for holding the event. Her reasoning was that women's self-defense is important and needs to be addressed. Better yet, Commissioner Brooks put her money where her mouth was: she participated with her granddaughter.

From what I observed, this group has a mean strike!

Tara Aschenbrand is a principal in Squire Patton Boggs' labor and employment practice. She may be reached attara.aschenbrand@squirepb.com.