March 2018

By:Ellen Arabian-Lee

“Gwenneth O’ Hara was born and raised in Ireland. She lived in Lesotho from 1972-1979, during the height of apartheid. Growing up as one of three daughters, her mother made her aware of the importance of women’s rights and the push for equality. In 1988, when she was 18, unemployment had reached almost 20 percent in Ireland, and her mom told her dad, ‘I’m taking the girls, and we are going to America- you can come or you can stay.’ Gwenn’s dad decided to join them. Gwenn’s mom applied for a visa through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a lottery system, and won. Gwenn’s family viewed America as the land of opportunity, and winning that visa seemed more beneficial than any amount of money, since with it came the hope for jobs, advancement, and opportunity.

Gwenn’s family moved to Los Angeles and took any jobs they could get. Gwenn worked as a nanny, waitress, and doctor’s office assistant. They traveled by bus for three hours to get to some of the jobs. Gwenn started school at Pasadena City College and transferred to UC Berkeley. She had a three-year-old son at the time. Influenced by injustices in her native country, Gwenn decided that she wanted to become a lawyer. She started law school at Boalt with a six-year-old and a six-month-old. Because of her childhood experiences and her passion for human rights, she worked at the International Human Rights Clinic at Berkeley. After passing the bar in 2000, Gwenn worked in corporate and energy law. In 2010, she opened her own law firm, California Power Law Group. She recently joined the Buchalter law firm as a shareholder and its chair of its Energy Practice Group.”

Source: Sacramento Lawyer Magazine