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Lisa Baker Jones Reflects on her Year as Chair of AILA NorCal

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Lisa Baker Jones Reflects on her Year as Chair of AILA NorCal

May 29, 2014

As associate Lisa Baker Jones winds down her year as Chair of the Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) – and gets ready to accept a national advocacy award, she spends a few minutes with Meg Trowbridge about her year.

Q What was the most rewarding part of your year as Chair of AILA NorCal?
LBJ The best parts are twofold, but in short, it's about the people. First, I was extremely honored in being able to represent the Northern California membership in matters such as local AILA governance, our AB-1159 state legislation efforts, and before the Board of Governors for AILA National. Second, I met many colleagues who I can now consider friends at both the local and national level. We had a local advisory council of nearly 30 members, who all worked so hard and volunteered countless hours, all for the benefit of the chapter. I was also privileged to meet and work with the 37 other chapter chairs as part of the Board of Governors, as well as several directors, past chairs, the national executive committee and AILA staff in DC. The vast majority of us volunteer our time, and can do so only with the tremendous support of our respective law firms and families.

Q What was the most challenging part of your year?
LBJ The most difficult work related to the eventual passage of AB-1159. In its original version, this bill singled out immigration attorneys in a negative way. We worked tirelessly to change the bill so that, once signed into law, it was dramatically improved and adequately reflected that the vast majority of immigration lawyers are ethical and responsible practitioners. I testified before the state senate judiciary committee, something that I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to do!

Q You will receive the Advocacy Award for Outstanding Efforts in Support of AILA's Advocacy Agenda in June at the national conference, attended by thousands of immigration attorneys and law school professors. How does it feel to be acknowledged for your advocacy efforts?
LBJ I don't think I've ever won an award like this before. I'm a little at a loss for words because I never expected to be acknowledged this way. We did the work because it needed to be done. Receiving an award is like the cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the hot fudge. I expect that I'll be pretty embarrassed/humbled at the presentation ceremony, but I will do my best to represent well both WSM and myself.

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