WLAM regional president wraps up her year in office

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney Jen Lawrence will step down as president of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) Washtenaw Region on May 19, when the organization holds its annual meeting at the Cottage Inn in downtown Ann Arbor. She will be succeeded as president by Anna Frushour of Frushour Law in Ann Arbor. The Washtenaw Region serves Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties.

Lawrence, an attorney with Marrs & Terry in Ann Arbor and a specialist in family law and divorce, has had a fun year as president, enjoying several outstanding events, including the annual wine tasting in March at Vinology.

"People are still talking about the event!" she says. "We had our summer party last year at the home of Don and Heidi Salter-Ferris on Ford Lake which is such a wonderful party. Another major highlight was our holiday party at the home of Judge Darlene O'Brien. Each event we offer is always encapsulated by positive intelligent women and it provides me with a reminder of why I'm so glad I joined WLAM.

"I can't say enough good things about WLAM," she adds. "When I initially joined I had no idea the impact the organization would have on my life. I feel a sense of community with our members and our board that makes practicing law enjoyable. I've made so many connections both professionally and personally."

Lawrence joined the WCBA board at the same time as she joined WLAM and served as a WCBA section chair and then as a director at large.

As with WLAM, WCBA has been extremely important to her professional and personal development.

"WCBA provides local attorneys the opportunity to network and offers the social aspect as well," she says. "Additionally, the staff is phenomenal. If I've ever needed any assistance they've always been there. I always recommend all local attorneys join the WCBA."

The daughter and sister of police officers, Lawrence started her career path by studying criminal justice. Choosing to attend Eastern Michigan University to obtain an undergrad degree before attending a police academy, she stumbled onto a program with the College of Technology and was intrigued by the class descriptions for the paralegal program.

"The program offered real world experience and was essentially the same courses you would take in law school," she notes. "I also met my mentor, Professor Dan Ray, who later became my advisor in the program. I believe that his guidance, in addition to the courses, helped me succeed in the program."

Earning a Norma Sarns Scholarship for Academic Excellence, and named 2001 Outstanding Legal Assistant Student of the Year, Lawrence graduated magna cum laude in 2001 with a bachelor of science in business technology and paralegal studies and worked as a paralegal and legal coordinator for five years.

"I had no intentions of going to law school when I became a paralegal I was lucky to have graduated with a degree during a time when the economy was doing well and paralegals were sought after," she says.

"I remember having an epiphany when I was working as a corporate paralegal and I realized that I wanted to be able to sign my own pleadings and I knew it was time for me to take the next step and apply to law school."

She earned her J.D. in 2008 from Cooley Law School in Lansing, where she made the dean's list and moot court.

"Cooley offered me the opportunity to challenge myself and meet some lifelong friends," she says. "There are a number of professors who genuinely loved and cherished their students and their courses. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much."

An Ann Arbor native, Lawrence is still an Ann Arbor "Townie," making her home there with her husband Jason, two-year-old daughter Karis, and two cats.

"I enjoy advocating for and contributing to various animal rescues if I had the space and time I would love to have my own rescue for cats and dogs," she says.

As a busy attorney and busy mom, Lawrence has little time for a lot of outside hobbies, but she and her husband play on a co-ed kickball league; and enjoy going up north and vacationing with family.

Published: Mon, May 11, 2015

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