Women lawyers seeking mentorship, networking, and advancement in their practice of law can find a supportive community in the Jacksonville Women Lawyer’s Association (JWLA). As the local chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL), JWLA members represent of all types of legal professionals – from law students and attorneys fresh out of law school, to seasoned lawyers who have been in practice in law firms for decades, to solo practitioners, judges, and corporate counsel.
“The most significant benefit for being a JWLA member is how proactive we are in raising up our members in many areas, giving them advantages they wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” said Cyndy Trimmer, president of JWLA. “We promote leadership and committee involvement in both FAWL and JWLA; we offer a rich assortment of programming in all aspects of law, whether opening a practice, joining a firm, or entering the judiciary; we recognize professional accomplishments with awards; and we are the largest forum for local and state networking and camaraderie in the profession and that is simply invaluable.”
“What it means to elevate women can mean something different to everyone,” Trimmer added. “Our challenge is to make sure we are offering programming that reaches, and provides an impact on, the varied needs of our range of members.”
With a mission to actively promote gender equality and the leadership roles of members in the legal profession, judiciary and community at large, JWLA offers programming dedicated to promoting diversity, community, and advancing women in law. Regular events include CLE luncheons providing ongoing education, advice and career strategies; the popular Tables for Eight that brings together two seasoned, two mid-level, two young or new attorneys, and two law students; and other inspiring and motivational events and activities.
This range of innovative and effective programming and services was recently recognized by FAWL, which awarded JWLA as its Chapter of the Year.
“We were honored and excited to receive this award because it validates that we are making a difference. We all work hard to lift and learn from one another, while also enjoying the networking and building lifelong connections, locally and statewide,” Trimmer said.
Community focus is Trimmer’s current platform, and she is leading JWLA with meaningful opportunities for members to become more involved and affect change at local level. For the February 2021 program, LIFT JAX’s executive director David Garfunkel and chair Darnell Smith will discuss how their initiative of business and community leaders are working to eradicate generational poverty in Jacksonville. In March, Angela Timberlake will present on behalf of Elevate Women, the initiative between the Jacksonville Women’s Leadership Coalition and JAX Chamber, in order to stimulate intelligent conversation about the state of women in leadership in Northeast Florida.
Trimmer said JWLA will partner again with the Jacksonville Bar for the next annual Legal Community Day of Service, and she also is excited to connect with the Jacksonville Junior League in the Spring, as well as with the D.W. Perkins Bar Association, among others.
“We have an incredible slate of programming planned for 2021, with plenty of opportunities for members to become engaged,” she said. “Our extensive health and wellness activities are going strong, and our newest networking initiative, Stepping into Connections, is similarly structured as Tables for Eight with small groups that meet outside to walk in different areas within the Fourth Judicial Circuit. It really fosters mentorship in an organic setting. We also are looking forward to having new Florida Supreme Court appointee Justice Jamie R. Grosshans be our featured speaker in May.”
JWLA’s inclusive membership welcomes male lawyers, as well. “Having men participate in our membership helps change the credibility of what is being said in the room. We have had male members who have been tremendously encouraging and supportive of the advancement of women lawyers in Jacksonville,” Trimmer said.
Promoting reform is another avenue for JWLA members to become involved on the statewide level, through lobbying non-partisan issues important to women and women lawyers, having access to local representatives, and bringing issues to the forefront in Tallahassee at the Capitol and The Florida Bar.
Trimmer said it would not be an overstatement to say that JWLA made her career. “I credit my success to the skills I learned and the networking I made through this organization. It helped me find my own voice and style. I received professional accolades and recognition that culminated in me being the first female partner at my firm. I have made some of my closest friends in JWLA, and found advocates on my behalf,” she said.
“My advice to any member of JWLA would be to simply get involved. Join a committee!” she encouraged. “We’ll have a call for nominations for leadership positions in early spring, but anyone can be active in our many committees and step up to help anytime. The more help we can get, the more we can do!”