On June 8, the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association (JWLA) hosted its 2016 Judicial Reception. The annual event is the highlight of the JWLA calendar. It honors the judiciary and rings in the year with the announcement of the 2016-2017 board, as well as the presentation of the Woman Lawyer of the Year. This year, Joanne Marie Fakhre, immediate past president, presented the 2016 Woman Lawyer of the Year to Imani A. Boykin.
We had the honor of sitting down with Boykin to discuss her recognition and her career.
AALM: Congratulations on your recent recognition. Tell us your reaction when you first learned you would receive this honor and about the experience of accepting it in front of your peers and the bench.
Boykin: Thank you, it was such an honor. Because I was surprised by this award, I didn’t have a speech prepared, but I wanted to thank a lot of people who are instrumental in my career, such as the Fourth Circuit and federal judges, the experienced attorneys who have mentored and coached me, the newest attorneys who allow me to mentor them and every judicial assistant with whom I interact because they make my life easier with their wisdom and efficiency. I also wanted to thank my clients who allow me to enter into their families’ lives.
AALM: Your daughters were in attendance. How important do you think it is for young women to have successful women to look up to? How do you seek to fill that position in their lives?
Boykin: It is extremely important. In my view, most people are capable of mentoring and taking an interest in the development of future generations. Fortunately, I have had successful role models all my life. With the girls, I lead by example. My goal is to enrich their lives with different and memorable experiences, people, places and things. I would not have been successful if my mentors hadn’t taken an interest in me at every step of my education and career.
AALM: In a past life, you held various executive positons. What compelled you to change your career? Have you found what you were looking for in the law?
Boykin: I have thoroughly enjoyed every position I’ve held, but always felt like I could be doing more to help people. The skills I learned in the military as a nurse and as a corporate executive continue to help me today in the practice of law. Now, I am completing my Master of Laws in elder law and plan to focus primarily in that area.
AALM: How do you seek to utilize your status as a business owner, as an adjunct professor, and as a barrister of the Florida Family Law Inns of Court to promote the issues and concerns of women in the legal community?
Boykin: I am actively involved with the American, Florida, and Jacksonville Bar Associations. I also train and mentor attorneys and students.
AALM: Having worked in the corporate world, how out of touch is the legal community with the advancements the corporate world has made in improving gender diversity? Do you believe they have the opportunity to keep pace?
Boykin: That is a difficult question. The corporate world is focused on profits and ensuring their management ranks reflect the diversity of its customers. Law firms only recently started thinking like corporations, but advancement and progress is being made.
AALM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Boykin: I wanted to thank the JWLA executive board and its members. I’ve worked with each of them on different projects and it has always been a joy. A special thank you to Joanne Fakhre for her leadership this past year. It was an honor to receive the award from her as her last official act.