In 1976 a small group of women attorneys gathered in an empty courtroom to discuss ways to combine their strengths to improve opportunities for women attorneys and promote recognition of their capabilities. With few exceptions, women attorneys were unique at that time, and men held the judicial positions as well as the majority of the prominent positions within Houston’s leading law firms.
From its humble beginnings, AWA has emerged as a leading organization that has opened its doors to male and female judges, licensed attorneys from law firms, solo practices, corporations and government sectors, and laws students. “AWA is all about relationships,” said Cameron Vann, a former president, citing the group’s annual reception for the judiciary as an example.
The judicial reception grew out of a dinner meeting in the 1980’s where judges who thought they treated women attorneys “just fine” and members who had a completely different perception of the situation cleared the air. The reception has since become an annual event where AWA members and local judges are able to mingle in a social atmosphere.
The AWA’s Judicial Screening Committee reviews the qualifications of judicial candidates and provides recommendations to its members and the community. Over the years, candidates have come to regard the AWA screening as one of the strongest in the state.
“At times members have wondered whether there was still a need for a woman’s organization,” Vann stated, “and that question has always been answered ‘Yes!’ Not only do AWA’s members have a sense that we’ve made things better, but we provide a networking opportunity for solo practitioners as well as attorneys from law firms, corporations, and government entities.”
Members have learned the value of being part of a group where they can compare “war stories” and come to find answers to questions. It provides an opportunity for litigators and corporate attorneys to develop friendships with lawyers who practice family, probate, criminal, and other types of law. The organization also affords a ready source of qualified attorneys to whom members can refer clients, friends, and family when there is a need for practitioners in other specialties.
AWA’s monthly meetings include state bar CLE accredited presentations on various subjects of interest. Past presentation topics have included lawyer advertising, stress management for attorneys, law practice management, financial planning, and the role of in-house counsel. Additionally, members serve as mentors for law students and recent graduates striving to find their way in the practice of law.
The AWA also serves Houston’s legal community through the AWA Foundation. Founded in the 1990s, the AWA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to women law students at each of the area’s three law schools. The AWA Foundation also honors Houston women who have made remarkable contributions to the practice of law at its annual Premier Women in Law Luncheon.
AWA Monthly Meetings
The AWA holds monthly meetings on various topics of interest to our members. In addition to earning CLE credit, AWA meetings allow informal opportunities to share and learn from experienced attorneys. See our events page for additional information about upcoming events.
The AWA publishes a regular newsletter which contains news on upcoming AWA programs and events as well as other information important to our members.