Trade Secrets Attorneys co-chair event to help women at fundraiser

By Mike Scott

Legal News

Beth Gotthelf and Elaine Fieldman feel fortunate to have had successful legal careers in metro Detroit. But they understand that circumstances may not have been as kind to other professionals, particularly in current weakened economy.

So the two area attorneys have and continue to give their time to JVS, an organization that assists area people of all backgrounds have a better opportunity at a successful career. One of the nonprofit organization's largest annual fundraisers is Trade Secrets, which is being held Wednesday, Feb. 16 at the Townsend Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

The main reason that both attorneys are involved with JVS is a deep-seated belief that people should help those who want to be helped, said Gotthelf, a Butzel Long shareholder and Trade Secrets co-chair this year. Gotthelf works out of the firm's Bloomfield Hills office and leads its environmental, energy and land use practice.

"There are very smart people who have just fallen on hard times or are (professions) that have struggled," said Gotthelf, who sits on the JVS board of trustees as secretary and received her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 1985.

She has become active in the organization because she is passionate about helping women enter and thrive in the workforce. It is a challenge for many women to not only start their careers, but reenter the workforce after years at home or in part-time or volunteer roles. The severe global economic recession that has had a particularly adverse effect on metropolitan Detroit has forced many women back into the workforce out of sheer necessity, Gotthelf said.

"These women have certain needs and there are challenges they face from the standpoint of confidence and understanding their skills," Gotthelf said. "Many women can find it overwhelming to enter the workforce and they don't know where to turn. But they all have skills and JVS has a variety of programs designed to help them better understand and discover what those skills are and how they can be applied."

JVS assists women as part of its Women to Work program, but it also provides employee assistance to men and women of all incomes and backgrounds, Fieldman said. She is of counsel to Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker, PLLC in Detroit. What has stood out to her about JVS is that it supports the employment needs of individuals with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. JVS helps to identify the opportunities available to everyone who seeks help.

"I think what people don't understand until they become involved with JVS is that it is for anyone and that there are jobs that are ideal for everyone who comes through those doors," Fieldman said. "It assists women who must re-enter the workforce after significant life changing events, including a new financial need, divorce, or a spouse's death or disability."

Fieldman has been involved with commercial litigation at the trial and appellate levels. She is a former JVS board member who has co-chaired the annual event for three years.

The JVS Women to Work Program includes career counseling, interview skill training, skills assessment and more. It is available to women of all ages, experience and backgrounds. Eighty-five percent of the women who go through the Women to Work Program find employment. Another 10 to 15 percent go back to school for further education and training. Sessions are held throughout the year with women attending courses 1-2 times per week.

"That's what makes it such a great organization and why I have remained involved because of programs like Women to Work," Gotthelf said. "You see people who go through the programs that JVS offers become emboldened by what they have learned. You just see their confidence rise."

Gotthelf has been involved with JVS for well over a decade and has served as a chair for Trade Secrets for the last two years. She also has served as the co-chair of another JVS fundraiser, Strictly Business. Gotthelf is currently the treasurer on JVS' executive board.

Trade Secrets will begin at 7 p.m. on February 16 and tickets begin at $125. For information about Trade Secrets, call Sharon Snyder, JVS chief development officer, at 248-233-4290, ssnyder@jvsdet.org, or visit www.jvsdet.org.

Published: Wed, Feb 2, 2011

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