November 1, 1989
By Yolanda Reynolds
César Chávez, President of the UFW is the scheduled guest speaker at the La Raza Lawyers Association Benefit Dinner, November 3, 1989.
The purpose of the benefit dinner-dance is to raise scholarship funds for Santa Clara County Raza graduating high school seniors who plan a career in law.
La Raza Lawyers Association of the County of Santa Clara plans to make this fund raising dinner-dance an annual event to which the general public is invited.
This year the dinner dance will be held at Lou’s Village, 1465 West San Carlos. For more information call 294-9002 or 294-5393.
Jessie Serna, whose law office is located on the Alameda, is President of the Association. Other officers of the Association are: Vice-President, Miguel Chacón, Esq., Secretary, Jesús Valencia, Jr. Esq. and Treasurer, Eugene Flemate Esq. The Association membership numbers over 150 Raza attorneys practicing law in Santa Clara County. Approximately one third of the lawyers involved in the Association are women.
Though most of the lawyers are in private practice, La Raza Association membership includes a District Deputy Attorney and others who practice law for governmental agencies such as the City of San José Attorney Office and the Public Defenders Office.
President Serna is very enthusiastic about next Friday’s event and the benefit scholarship funds it will bring to deserving youth in the County.
Jessie attributes her presence in the courtroom to receipt of a scholarship to attend college. She grew up in the Central Valley. Her parents like many others in her community, worked in the fields and in the local canneries. For Jessie’s family it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible to pay all of the costs for her college education and much less, law school. It was financial aid that permitted Jessie to attend college immediately upon graduation for high school.
After graduating from Edison High School in Stockton – in the late sixties, Jessie enrolled for collegiate studies at San Jose State. During her senior year at San Jose State, Serna decided that she would like to be a lawyer. When she completed a B.A. in Administration of Justice, Jessie applied for admission and was accepted to the Golden Gate University Law School in San Francisco. Jessie has been practicing law since graduation and passage of the California State Bar exam seven years ago.
Serna who is fluent in both Spanish and English saw her law practice grow rapidly. Not having any money to start a business, Serna began her practice in her apartment. Within two months, Jessie was able to rent a small office where she still answered her own phone and performed all of the office secretarial and bookkeeping tasks besides conducting the necessary legal research and representing her clients in court. At the Alameda location, Jessie’s office occupies a spacious suite of rooms and she now employs a full time legal secretary, a paralegal, a secretary and during the summer break a law student intern.
Attorney Serna whose specialty is personal injury, accidents, wrongful death, and medical malpractice is very busy. Among Jessie’s many successes, is included success at the State Supreme Court level and also the Court of Appeals. At the California State Supreme Court it was in the Rudy Ochoa vs. Santa Clara County case and in the California State Court of Appeals the Joseph Gutierrez vs. Santa Clara County case.
Jessie says it isn’t “A” grades and an affluent family that make the difference for success in law school. Indeed both can help but more importantly, she says success in school is dependent upon motivation, endurance, perseverance and being a student who faithfully completes the homework assigned by the teacher.
For Jessie, super heading a major fundraiser is not new. While President of MECHA, a student organization at San Jose State, Serna helped in raising thousands of dollars for scholarships. At the time the students raised money with rock concerts.
Jessie feels so strongly about sharing her experience with young students that she schedules as many requests for high school classroom visits as possible, in order to help Raza students realize that they, too can be where she is.