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The mission of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) is to enhance the status, influence and effectiveness of women lawyers in the State of South Carolina. SCWLA will, through advocacy, action and association, take positive steps to ensure that women lawyers achieve their fair share of opportunities and benefits available to those in the legal profession.
- To encourage and promote the advancement of women in the profession of law.
- To provide opportunities for the development of collegiality and mentoring among women lawyers.
- To enhance the professional lives of women lawyers.
- To increase the number of women in the judiciary.
- To provide a forum to consider and address issues unique to women in the legal profession.
SCWLA was founded through the sheer willpower and determination of countless women who devoted their time and energy to ensure that practicing law is now easier for women lawyers than it was in years past. In the summer of 1993, Vickie Eslinger and Ann Furr announced a meeting of this then-nameless group in Columbia, South Carolina. Suzi Clawson and Janet Butcher volunteered to draft bylaws. Helen McFadden reviewed the bylaws and suggested changes. Virginia Bedford designed a software program to compile data. Corky Erwin, Eve Moredock Stacy, Ann Wilson, and Betsy Gray gave generously of their time and innovative ideas, as did Chief Justice Jean Toal, Abigail Rogers, and Ann Furr. Nancie Quick and Jackie Bartley helped with organizational and tax questions. The first newsletter was compiled by Betsy Carpentier -- a former editor in chief of the SC Law Review -- with the help of computer expert and newsletter designer, Virginia Bedford. The SC Bar and Bob Wells were extremely supportive.
Today SCWLA has over 900 members and an active 25-member Board of Directors. The organization emphasizes the opportunity to meet and help other women by sponsoring CLE's, monthly regional lunches, and mentoring programs. The Jean Galloway Bissell Award is bestowed annually upon a recipient selected both for professional excellence and for paving the way to success for women.