Women Lawyers of Ventura county to Honor two Role Models for Women Attorneys

Courage, commitment, and demonstrated ability to effect change mark Hannah-Beth Jackson and Verna Kagan as outstanding role models for women attorneys. On Nov. 3, 2011, at the Fifth Annual Legacy Awards Dinner, Women Lawyers of Ventura County (WLVC) will honor former Assembly Member and Santa Barbara/Ventura attorney, Hannah-Beth Jackson, with the Legacy Award at Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard. In addition, WLVC will present the Holly Spevak Memorial Award to our local unsung hero, Verna Kagan.

 Speak Out with Hannah-Beth

 The Legacy Award is given to a pioneer woman attorney, one of our “founding mothers” who was an early leader among women lawyers, a strong supporter of women’s rights, and an advocate for the  underrepresented. Through her leadership in the state legislature and community organizing, as well as her work as prosecutor protecting victims of domestic violence and stalking, Hannah-Beth Jackson has demonstrated that she meets the criteria for this award and reminds us that being a lawyer is truly is a noble profession. 

As a member of the California Assembly and chairwoman of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, Hannah Beth-Jackson authored 64 bills that were enacted into law under Governors Grey Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the Assembly, Jackson was committed to supporting families, children and women’s health. She authored the Violence Against Women Act, which provided for a civil remedy for victims of gender-motivated violence. Moreover, Jackson’s legislation improved the delivery of child support services, provided grants through community colleges for nurse training programs, enhanced protections to children who were domestic violence victims and improved protections for victims of stalking.

As a prosecutor with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, Jackson helped found Shelter Services for Women, the predecessor of Domestic Violence Solutions. Currently, she is the executive director of the Institute of the Renewal of the California Dream and president of Speak Out California, a blog helping to define a new progressive agenda for the State of California. On Saturday mornings, she hosts a radio program called Speak Out with Hannah-Beth. 

Verna Kagan – You can set your watch by her!

 The Holly Spevak Memorial Award honors the memory of a woman whose short time as an attorney brought lasting contributions to the community and access to justice through her pro bono work. This year, WLVC will honor the legacy of community service and pro bono work performed by the director of the Volunteer Lawyers Services Program (VLSP), Verna Kagan. Traditionally, this award is presented to a new or “newish” attorney. Although Kagan is not a new attorney, her dedication to helping others has kept her “young at heart,” and she very much exemplifies the principels for which Spevak worked so hard to make a better way for others less fortunate.

Kagan was the first Emeritus Attorney with the Ventura County Bar Association’s VLSP, a program that was started in 1996 by David Shain and Roger Myers and first staffed by Alice McGrath. In 2005 Kagan took over as the director and has been leading the charge ever since. The VLSP provides pro bono

legal services to hundreds of low-income individuals and families each year. Kagan is responsible for supervising and coordinating the all-volunteer staff of attorneys and representatives of the legal community who have handled over 10,500 calls from low-income people requesting advice, referral, consultation and representation. In the face of diminishing funds and an ever-increasing need for legal help, Kagan manages to keep 14 Emeritus Attorneys motivated and engaged in this endeavor. 

When asked what his favorite thing about Verna Kagan is, VCBA Executive Director, Steve Henderson said, “I can set my watch by her! 9:00 a.m. every Monday through Friday, 50 weeks a year, and yes I let her off to go birding during the summer.” Kagan loves her work at the VLSP. She is genuinely grateful to all of the attorneys who donate their time to assist with pro bono cases. Kagan finds great satisfaction in telling a distraught person with no financial resources and no hope that there is an attorney available who is willing and available to help them.

Please join us on November 3 to celebrate these remarkable and inspirational women.  The Tierra Sur Restaurant is located inside Herzog Wine Cellars at 3201 Camino Del Sol in Oxnard. Wine tasting and hors d’ oeuvres will start at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. The cost of the dinner is $60 for WLVC Members and $75 for nonmembers. If you would like to join WLVC for 2012 now, you can get the discounted cost for the dinner. Please R.S.V.P. to Nancy Goldstein at (805) 496-6565 or nancy@gr8calilawyer.com by October 27. Checks can be made payable to “WLVC” and sent to Nancy Goldstein at 3625 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 209, Westlake Village, CA 91362.

Jodi Prior is Supervising Attorney for the Ventura County Superior Court’s Self-Help Legal Access Center.

About Bar