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The Bar Exam Is Incredibly Difficult To Pass. It’s Even Harder For Those Pregnant Or Nursing



“It’s very concerning that at this critical time, where women are seeking an entry point into their legal careers, that such barriers exist,” attorney Melinda Koster, who specializes in discrimination cases, told BuzzFeed News. “This can mean that women end up postponing taking the bar examination altogether, or they have to experience significant anxiety or pain while taking the bar.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the State Bar of California’s Chief of Programs Donna Hershkowitz said they are reviewing their accommodations policies and recently held a forum to discuss issues that have arisen and how they might be addressed. “We look forward to working with former and current applicants as well as the disability rights community as we revise and reshape our process. That being said, unfortunately we are not in a position to comment on individual cases,” Hershkowitz said.

A breastfeeding mother taking the exam in another state this week, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of harming future job prospects, told BuzzFeed News she also tried to apply for accommodations. She, too, was denied; her jurisdiction offers a space to pump and allows test takers to bring their equipment, but denied her request for additional breaks so she could pump as needed. Administrators said extra breaks would only be granted to applicants with disabilities covered by the ADA, which lactation is not.

“I was told I could just pump during my lunch break,” she said. “Right now, I feed my baby every two hours … so really, you’re looking at four hours between pumping.”

With no recourse, the mother has little choice but to accept the decision and get back to studying. She plans to pump in her car up until the moment she has to go inside for the exam, then pump in the car again during lunch. Days before the exam, she took a practice test, during which she “practiced” pumping according to the schedule the bar will force her to follow.

For lactating people, being told to “just pump during lunch” is insufficient to address their individual needs. The inflexible schedule of the bar can mean test takers are unable to express human milk as regularly as they need to, putting them at risk for health complications including painfully engorged breasts, a reduced milk supply, clogged ducts, or even mastitis, a bacterial infection that can become serious.

“Philosophically, people think breastfeeding is a choice,” attorney Fran Griesing told BuzzFeed News. “[But] it’s not something you can turn on and off easily … [or] say, ‘I’m not going to do it today.’ To say it’s a choice, whether to start in the first place or somehow not do it during the bar exam, is beyond ridiculous.”

And it’s even less of a “choice” than ever right now, due to the severe formula shortage that’s left parents across the US struggling to feed their babies.

Learning of future lawyers struggling to access pregnancy-related bar accommodations has felt particularly grim following the repeal of Roe v. Wade, Griesing said. And it’s not the only way she’s seen sex inequality in bar exam practices — it was just last year that the American Bar Association passed a resolution urging that examinees should be permitted to bring menstrual products, but many state bar examiners still don’t offer clear guidance. These policies can have an outsize impact not just on cisgender women, but also on trans and nonbinary people, for whom accommodations may be even harder to access and put them at risk of being involuntarily outed.

“To me, it’s sadly ironic … that the highest court in the land has made that decision,” Griesing said of the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. “But the same profession that those justices come from and the leaders of that profession are making it harder and harder for women to become lawyers.”

MothersEsquire, an organization advocating for mothers in the legal field, has taken a leading role in pushing for those struggling to get pregnancy accommodations for the bar. Michelle Browning Coughlin, the group’s founder, told BuzzFeed News she typically hears from at least one person going through this each bar cycle. For the upcoming July bar, she has heard from three.

“There is such a contradiction around the fact that [bar administrators] are presumably interested in seeking justice, fairness, the kinds of things the law is supposed to stand for,” Coughlin said. “And yet here they are in a situation where their own ability to enter that profession is being hampered merely because they’re a breastfeeding mother.”

Many in the legal field argue that the denial of these accommodations is discriminatory, due to the disproportionate impact it can have on pregnant or nursing people. But the liminal status of most of these people — people who have completed law school, but don’t have jobs yet or haven’t begun their employment — means that federal laws that might have protected them do not apply during this period of limbo. As students, Title IX would forbid discrimination on the basis of sex, including being pregnant or a parent. Once employed, federal laws give people who lactate the right to express milk in the workplace and prohibit pregnancy-based discrimination.

In the absence of federal legislation that would unambiguously protect pregnant or breastfeeding bar examinees, Coughlin must advocate for every person who reaches out to MothersEsquire individually, familiarizing herself with the wildly varying policies of any of the 50 states.

But even in states where pregnancy-related accommodations can be accessed, such policies are often vaguely written and difficult to find, causing some applicants to be denied over minor errors or missing forms they never knew were needed.

Koster, the lawyer, told BuzzFeed News that women are spending time researching their rights, speaking to lawyers, and going through “extremely burdensome” appeals processes at a time when they should be studying instead.


I Went To Morocco And Portugal For 10 Days With Only A Backpack And Small Carry On Bag…Here Are 15 Items That Made The Cut



This set includes a high quality plastic bag, four bottles (two different sizes), four jars (two different sizes), two spray bottles, two product spoons, one funnel, one cleaning brush, and one page of labels.

Before buying this I had just a hodgepodge of random travel size products and a bag that didn’t really fit any of it. I wanted to find a cohesive set, all of which actually had a place to go. Enter this guy. Not only is it all matching, but the variety of bottles, jars, and spray bottles is super convenient for all kinds of different products. The labels are also really helpful for making sure you don’t end up conditioning your hair with body wash. The bottles are incredibly easy to fill because the openings are super wide and you can easily pour directly from the full size bottle.

Promising review: “I absolutely love this travel set!! First of all it looks great, clean, classic. Not only does it come with bottles and jars and spray bottles, it also comes with a spoon, a funnel, a cleaning brush and a page of labels. They thought of everything. The larger bottles for shampoo etc, are made of silicone, so you can squeeze the product out. My favorite thing about this set is the size. It fits into luggage so easily.” —Funnymom

Get it from Amazon for $12.99.

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17 Solo Travel Safety Tips By Women, For Women



17 Safety Tips For Women Traveling Alone

I’ve cried on my couch while watching Eat, Pray, Love more times than I’m willing to publicly admit. Apart from inspiring me to sob alone in my apartment, it also inspires me to live my Julia Roberts dreams and travel alone. The only problem is that I’m SCARED. There’s no way I can comfortably eat, pray, or love on a trip unless I feel safe, protected, and relaxed.


“The best advice I’ve heard as a solo female traveler is if there aren’t local women out alone, you shouldn’t be either.”



“Take self-defense classes so you know how to look after yourself if the worst thing happens. You’ll feel more confident in yourself.”


“I take a tampon out of the applicator, roll up my cash, and put it in the empty applicator. I use my flat iron to reseal the wrapper. Someone may steal my wallet, but no one is stealing tampons.”



“Both Android and iPhones have safety SOS settings. You can configure them to call emergency services with options that you can do without even taking your phone out of your pocket and attracting attention.”


“If you feel uncomfortable around people when you get somewhere alone, you can make a ‘fake phone call.’ Say something like, ‘Can you open the door for me when I get the room?’ so no one knows that you’re alone.”



“If you’re looking to scare someone off, be unhinged. While walking or waiting for the bus, if I get a creep vibe, I stare intensely at something and talk to myself. The less sense it makes, the better.”


“I travel internationally by myself for work a few times a year, and when looking at hotels, I always do a run-through on Google street view of the surroundings so I’ll know what to expect. It helps to feel more comfortable somewhere new after I get the lay of the land.”



“Write down important phone numbers on pieces of paper and leave a copy in your hotel room, another on you, and another in each suitcase just in case you lose your phone and don’t have important contacts memorized.”


“Ignore people! A lot of the worst behavior I have experienced as a woman on my own comes from business owners who think a female tourist is an easy target for a flirtatious or aggressive sales tactic or men in bars or cafes who think that makes you an easy pick up. Most people with less-than-honorable intentions will back off if you really don’t engage with them!”



“Get a bag with a zipper! Makes it way harder for anyone to pickpocket you.”


“I’m single and when I went to Cape Town, I visited a local brewery. When a guy started to chat me up, I got a weird feeling…so I mentioned that my ‘wife’ was on her way over and pulled up my friend’s Instagram that has a ton of photos of me and her together and he immediately changed the conversation and tone with me from flirting.”



“Always share your location with anyone back home — no matter the time difference. It helps in emergencies to track your last known location.”


“Buy a door jammer for your hotel room! It fits perfectly in checked luggage and won’t take up any room in a car. It’s lightweight and could save your life. If you want to add another layer of safety, pack rubber door stoppers.”



“I always tell anyone I meet while solo traveling that I’m meeting up with friends later. It’s always better for people to think that you have someone who would immediately notice if something happened to you.”


“My friend’s aunt is ALWAYS traveling alone. If she stops at a hotel, especially if there are lurkers around, she always tells the person at the desk that she and some friends are there for a martial arts conference.”



“I only stay in hotels with doors on the inside (no cabanas, no cottages, no motels) so someone has to walk past an employee or a camera to get to my door.”


And finally, “Nothing wrong with carrying pepper spray.”


I can never get enough of these travel tips! It’s scary out there, so if there’s anything I can do to feel a little less anxious, I’ll do it. Let me know in the comments if you have more safety advice for women traveling alone!

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Shakira Has Been Accused Of Tax Evasion For A Second Time After Allegedly Failing To Pay $7.1 Million In Taxes



Shakira Accused Of Tax Evasion For A Second Time

For a second time, Shakira is facing tax evasion charges in Spain.

On Tuesday, the Associated Press obtained a statement from Spanish prosecutors accusing the iconic singer of failing to pay around $7.1 million (€6.7 million) in taxes on her income in the year 2018.

According to Reuters, Shakira — who is Columbian — failed to declare the profits from a $12.5 million advance payment she received for her El Dorado World Tour that year, as well as other payments. She’s being accused by prosecutors of using an offshore company located in a tax haven to get out of paying the tax.

Per the AP, the singer has been informed of the charges in Miami, where she currently lives with her two sons, 10-year-old Milan and 8-year-old Sasha, who she shares with her ex, Gerard Piqué. However, her legal team purportedly claimed that she wasn’t notified, and found out through the media.

The new charges come two months after a Spanish court announced that Shakira would be investigated for alleged fraud on personal income and wealth tax in 2018.

After these reports surfaced, a representative for the singer told People that she “defends having always acted in accordance with the law and under the advice of the best tax experts,” and “is confident that there will be a favorable resolution of her tax issues.”

Of course, this is not the first time Shakira has been caught up in tax fraud allegations. In November, she is expected to stand trial in a previous $15 million tax evasion case, in which she is accused of allegedly not paying taxes between the years 2012 and 2014.

For a bit of context, both of these legal disputes center around where Shakira officially lived in the years she is accused of evading tax.

In the first case, prosecutors argue that Shakira spent more than half of her time in Spain between 2012 and 2014, and therefore was obliged to pay taxes in the country.

They allege that the Barcelona property she and Piqué bought in 2012 was her official home. However, Shakira has disputed this and denied any wrongdoing, claiming instead that her primary residence was located in the Bahamas.

According to the AP, Shakira’s team alleged that she paid the Spanish Tax Agency the amount she was said to have owed, and has no outstanding debts.

After she reportedly rejected a settlement deal offered by prosecutors last year, the case will go to trial. If she is found guilty she could face a $24 million fine and a possible eight-year prison sentence.

As it stands, neither Shakira nor her team have commented on the new charges. BuzzFeed has reached out to a representative for Shakira for comment.

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