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Message from the Chair:

spaceWelcome to the Black Women Lawyer’s
Penny WillrichAssociation of Arizona Inc. It is an honor and
Penny Willrichprivilege to serve as the very first Chair of the
Penny WillrichAssociation. This is history in the making. Penny WillrichBWLAA is the first organization of its kind in Penny WillrichArizona. I take great pride in knowing that we Penny Willrichare part of creating a legacy of excellence, one that was created by such pioneers as Charlotte Ray, the very first African American woman ever admitted to practice law in the United States as well as Joyce Holsey and the Hon. Jean Williams, the very first African American women admitted to practice law in Arizona.  As incredible as it may be,  the latter two women were admitted to practice law in Arizona not in the early or late 1800’s nor the during the early 1900’s. They were admitted to the Arizona bar fairly recently, in 1971 and 1972.  From this I know one thing to be true: we come in on the strength and shoulders of those who have paved the way for us.  These women created  a proud heritage and legacy for all African American women attorneys to live up to and continue.   On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you for your support and we look forward to honoring our commitment to both celebrate our achievements and to proudly honor and continue our Legacy of Excellence in the legal community.

Penny Willrich
Maricopa Superior Court
Judge, Retired
Professor of Law
Phoenix School of Law

spacerMessage from the President:

spacerIt is with faith, gratitude and love that I bring spaceyou the Black Women Lawyer’s Association of spaceArizona, Inc.

spaceI can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve thought spaceabout having such an organization in Arizona spacesince moving to Phoenix a little over three years ago. Having been a part of such a wonderful organization in Chicago, I knew and always believed that an organization such as BWLAA would fill a niche in the Arizona legal community. After bouncing the idea off of several trusted advisors, I stepped out on faith and incorporated the organization in the Fall of 2005.  May 5, 2006, the organization was officially introduced at the opening of the new offices of my partner and my law firm, The Law Offices of Hardy and Umbreit, by myself and law partner, Iller M. Hardy. At this event we honored 5 champions of the legal community – 4 attorneys as well as another legal professional. I only wish that I could have captured that moment for all to see and experience. It was absolutely the best – to be honored by, and in the presence of, ones peers.

That’s what its all about – having a support network to not only educate but to encourage, mentor as well as celebrate and honor not only our many accomplishes but to also recognize the victories as we overcome challenges. Always know, no matter what, that you are loved, honored and appreciated.

Le Bertha Umbreit
President & Founder of BWLAA

Our Mission

To work towards the enhancement of diversity in the legal profession. To this end, BWLAA seeks, through the development of educational programs, the  creation of strategic alliances with and between other law related organizations and businesses, to foster  effective and meaningful mentoring  relationship,  providing its members  opportunities to network in a variety of legal environments with the goal of increasing the presence of women, with an emphasis on women of African American descent, in the legal profession.

Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Arizona Inc.
- "Creating A Legacy of Excellence"

Did you know?

Penny Willrich was the very first African American female to sit on the Maricopa County Superior Court Bench.

Ida Wilbur is the first African American female to serve as a Presiding Judge for a Native American Nation ( Ak – Chin ).

Jean Williams was the first African American female to serve as a judge in the Phoenix Municipal Court system.


The first African American women admitted to practice law in Arizona dies.
read more.

Profile of a Law Diva™?
read more.

Understanding, Appreciating and Valuing the Power of Diversity™





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