OCWLA started in 1975 with five members. It was originally called the Women and Individual Rights section of the Orange County Bar Association. In 1979, OCWLA became an affiliate organization of the Orange County Bar Association.
Over the past 41 years, OCWLA has been dedicated to advancing women in the legal profession. We support the continued growth and development of OCWLA and its members by providing an exceptional professional network, raising awareness of discrimination and bias, and supporting worthy charitable organizations.
In addition to helping women in the legal community, OCWLA is dedicated to donating money from its fundraising efforts to Orange County women and children in need. After a successful 40th Anniversary fundraising Gala last year, this year the OCWLA was in a position to make a sizable donation to two important local groups: Olive Crest Academy, a non-public, non-profit special education school for children in grades K-12 with behavior challenges, and Casa Theresa, which provides a loving and supportive family home to pregnant women and their babies facing difficult circumstances.
As a membership benefit, the OCWLA has regular MCLE lunch meetings at Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine, a non-profit restaurant in Irvine, on the second Friday of every month. Our meetings offer quality Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs at very reasonable prices. We also hold several evening programs throughout the year, including our popular Mardi Gras cocktail mixer in February. We also held our annual Women Judges Reception at Whittier Law School in March to honor our many female federal and state judges.
Our Board has been hard at work planning our Annual Fundraising Gala. We are pleased to announce that this year we will be honoring our 2016 Judge of the Year Hon. Gail Andler. We are pleased to announce that Michele Johnson, of Latham & Watkins is our Attorney of the Year. These awards will be presented at our Annual Gala Dinner on September 22, 2016 at The Pelican Hill. The Gala is our primary fundraising event and sole source of our charitable giving.
OCWLA uses money raised through its fundraising efforts to award $1,000 bar stipends and diversity bar stipends twice annually to law school graduates who are studying for the California Bar Examination. We also provide financial support to organizations such as the Public Law Center and California Women Lawyers, of which OCWLA is an affiliate.
At all of our events, OCWLA collects donations of sample-sized toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) as well as gift cards to restaurants and stores that we donate to the Orange County Collaborative Courts. The toiletries are distributed to people in the Homeless Outreach Court and Drug Court programs. We also collect dry pasta donations, which we give to Caterina’s Club. Bruno Serato, the owner of the Anaheim White House, uses these donations to make pasta dinners every night for children living in the motels of Anaheim.
For more information about OCWLA, please contact us at www.ocwla.org, 949.440.6700, ext. 259.