Making a Difference... Community Spotlight Q&A with Orange County Women Lawyers Association President Jessica C. Munk, Esq.
Judicate West


What is OCWLA’s mission?

The Orange County Women Lawyers Association (OCWLA) first began in 1975 with five members. The original goal was to focus on the rights, not only of women, but also of all individual groups that may have experienced discrimination in our society or before the law. At the time, there were no women jurists sitting on the bench in Orange County. The group quickly grew to over thirty members comprised of nearly an equal number of women and men. Since this time, the OCWLA has been dedicated to the advancement of women in the legal profession and the support of diversity both on the bench and in law firm partnerships. 

Why is the organization special to you?

I have been on the OCWLA board for the past five years and this year have the privilege of serving as the President of this great organization. OCWLA is very special to me for several reasons – through the personal connections I have made, the important advocacy positions it takes, and how it gives back to our community. I have not only made long-lasting friendships from my involvement with OCWLA, but I have also had the honor to serve with other talented women lawyers in Orange County who are passionate about this organization and its goals of advancing women and diversity in the legal profession. 

What is OCWLA’s impact in the community? 

OCWLA provides numerous professional networking opportunities for our members and MCLEs addressing a variety of issues, such as employment discrimination and harassment as well as pay disparities like Equal Pay Day, which marks how many more days in the year women must work compared to men to get paid the same. The OCWLA was also one of the first bar organizations in Orange County to address the implications of the Dobbs decision. OCWLA is dedicated to giving back to the legal community and, through its foundation, provides charitable gifts to local nonprofits that are dedicated to assisting women and children in law and society.

As we reflect on Women's History Month, what words do you have for the legal community?

Today, nearly 50 years after the OCWLA was founded, we are over 500 members strong. Women in the legal profession have certainly come a long way from when our organization was founded, but there is still much progress to be made. According to the Judicial Counsel of California demographic data from 2022, only 35.1% of the judges on the trial court in Orange County are women. For the entire judicial bench in California, only 39.9% are women and only 38.6% are people of color. These statistics are substantially less when looking at law firm partnerships. As women continue to outnumber men attending law schools in the United States, we seek to see more equal representation in leadership. While we look back on Women’s History Month and celebrate the substantial progress we have made over these past decades, let’s remember that there is still much progress to be made. The OCWLA is dedicated to continuing to support diversity and equal opportunities for women in the legal profession.