Class of 2005
Principal, Wada Government Relations LLC
Area of Practice: Capital Lawyering
Undergraduate: Loyola Marymount University
For Jennifer Wada, '05, lobbying was supposed to be a stepping-stone to practicing
law. But while she was working as a lobbyist by day and taking McGeorge School of
Law classes at night, she realized that her law studies perfectly complemented the
career she loved.
A principal at Wada Government Relations LLC, formerly The W Group LLC, Wada started her lobbying career in 2001 with Public Policy Advocates in Sacramento. Fueled by a lifelong interest in politics, Wada had always wanted to be a lawyer. After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a bachelor's degree in communications, she worked for a short time at a Santa Monica public relations firm. She decided to enter politics through lobbying and joined a large Sacramento contract-lobbying firm.
Wada was attracted to lobbying because she liked the idea of being able to shape policy and laws, and delve into a variety of industries on different issues. She worked on issues of housing, transportation, business regulation and health. She also liked the idea of being an advocate.
"I think it starts with the fundamental belief that everybody has a policy perspective and everybody should have the ability to share that perspective through the legislative decision-making process," she says. "Lobbying enables people to have their voices heard, all of which typically produces more sound public policy."
Lobbying seemed like a good place to start.
"Lobbying was a nice middle ground," she says. "I had the advocacy side; I get to work with the law on a daily basis. I have the law and the politics mixed into one profession."
At McGeorge, Wada was on the mock trial team and took trial advocacy, both of which helped her with the guts of lobbying: crafting arguments and presenting them persuasively, reading her audience and identifying a compelling approach to an argument.
Immediately after graduation, Wada joined forces with fellow graduate Anthony Williams, '05, a Capital Center Advisory Board member. They opened their own lobbying and law firm, the Wada Williams Law Group LLP in Sacramento, where she practiced lobbying exclusively.
"I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit," Wada says, explaining why she and Williams launched the firm upon graduation. "Especially as a minority female, I wanted to own my own business and contribute in that way, and I had the confidence that I knew I could do it."
When Williams went back to work for the California Legislature in 2010, she reconstituted the business as a lobbying firm called The W Group. Her clients include the State Bar of California, a coalition of entertainment industry professionals, a statewide association of managers that oversees condominium and homeowner associations, a biopharmaceutical company, an education reform organization and the Women's Foundation of California, for which Wada lobbies on childcare and welfare-to-work issues.
As a member of the Capital Center Advisory Board, Wada says she hopes to help McGeorge become more influential in the legislative process.
"The process itself is so important for everybody who lives in the state, as well as beyond, because California sets the precedent for laws in other states. Being a law school in the heart of the state's capital, McGeorge is perfectly positioned to influence at a high level by preparing students and launching them into this extremely significant process."