by: Jennifer Lawton
It is my great privilege to serve as the President of Fresno County Women Lawyers this coming year. I was first introduced to the amazing men and women of our organization in 2009 during my final year of law school. I was so impressed with the outpouring of encouragement and support while studying for the bar that I felt compelled to become further involved and offered to serve on the board the following year in 2010 as a Member at Large. I served as Vice President for both 2011 and 2012 before accepting the nomination as President in 2013.
Much of my life was a whirlwind in that time both personally and professionally. In those three years I passed the bar, got married, bought a home, and started a family, all while trying to successfully cope with the responsibilities of being a new associate and chasing that ever elusive “billable hour.” Despite what I considered to be never-ending chaos, I felt very comforted by the fact that so many women within our organization had met similar challenges head on and somehow managed to be not only successful attorneys, but wives and mothers as well. I feel grateful for the relationships that I have developed through Fresno County Women Lawyers and hope that I can use my time as President to perhaps help others who follow behind me in the same way.
The mission of FCWL always has been to promote the interests of the legal community at large and women in particular. In fulfillment of that mission, FCWL members are dedicated to ending gender and all discrimination, eliminating hostile work environments, promoting the appointment of female judicial officers, supporting outstanding female law students, and recognizing outstanding female high school mock trial participants. With advances in diversity awareness, we also are committed to supporting lawyers of both genders balance work obligations against family interests, acknowledging gender differences as sources of strength, and fostering respect for diversity in our bench, bar, and community. This year I will be dedicating a some of our time toward helping Veterans within our community through programs such as Veterans Homefront, a transitional living facility for female Veterans and their children.
We offer a broad range of educational topics (for which MCLE is offered) at our monthly luncheons. To ensure we meet the educational needs of our members, we ask for your input about topics of interest. Because the social and marketing aspect of FCWL is important to many members, we also will host a cocktail party in the Spring and a Holiday Party in December. As in years past, we are delighted to collaborate in presenting our judicial reception this year honoring ALL of our female judicial officers, as well as the Hanson dinner to honor an outstanding female lawyer and a deserving female law student; and presenting the Elizabeth O’Neill Scholarship to an outstanding female high school student. We look forward to your participation in the coming year, and the building of new relationships for many years to come.