The Gold Standard - WLA Honors Two Who Help Empower Women

Patricia Ashbaugh—2017 Outstanding Women Lawyer Award
Kara Stein-Conaway—2017 Rising Star Award

In 2012, the Women Lawyers Association created the Outstanding Women Lawyer Award to honor a female attorney in San Luis Obispo County promoting the advancement of women within our community. The Outstanding Women Lawyer Award known as the OWL Award is presented annually, in March, in honor of Women’s History Month, followed by a speaker addressing elimination of bias for continuing education credits. Two years later, we created the Rising Star Award allowing us to also recognize younger lawyers, having practiced seven years or less, but who are no less in their actions promoting the advancement of women.

Both of the Awards honor our mission statement, which is promoting the advancement of women. Yet, this task can play out in a variety of different ways. The first two recipients of the OWL Award, Angie King and Jacqueline Frederick, and the Rising Star Award, Janet Wallace were all honored for their involvements in organizations that work tirelessly to advance women. Other recipients, Alicia Valdez Wright were honored for her implementation of a program, Incarcerated Women Legal Education Project and Jennifer Alton for her efforts mentoring female students wishing to become attorneys. Most recently, we honored our former Mayor, Jan Marx for her examples of leadership in public service. The common thread of all the recipients’ actions is that in their own way they contributed locally, some outside the county as well, to ensuring women are gifted the benefit of continuing to advance.

This year, the WLA presented Patricia Ashbaugh with the OWL Award for her many firsts, first female law partner in the county, first female public defender in the county, and her efforts founding our organization. Kara Stein-Conaway was presented with the Rising Star Award for her example of leadership in the management of her criminal defense firm. Ironically, both recipients are criminal defense attorneys, lending us the opportunity to inquire more about what it is like to be a female, criminal defense attorney here in San Luis Obispo County.

Click here to read the full article by Tara Jacobi as published in the San Luis Obispo Bar Bulletin, April 2018

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