Upon graduating from Rutgers University in 1979, Jason Lauren ’84 had not yet chosen a career path. He moved from his native New Jersey to San Diego to explore Southern California. During a lunch break from a temporary job at a downtown Western Union office, he wandered into California Western and sat in on Professor K. Rosenberry's Property Law class.
“During my walk back to work, I resolved to take the LSAT. I applied to CWSL and USD, was accepted by both, and chose Cal Western. I wanted to attend the school that put me on my path.”
Lauren credits the quality of the faculty for his academic and professional success. “The faculty fused deep knowledge of the law with individual experiences as law practitioners. That made the study of law very timely and socially relevant. They were passionate and energizing.”
When asked if any particular professors stood out, he hesitates. “There were so many, but I recall that Professor William Lynch had a particularly sharp mind and a supportive, encouraging demeanor.”
He published a Law Review article during his 2L year on a constitutional law topic. During 3L, he served as a Lead Articles Editor and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He was a member of the school’s trial advocacy team, coached by Professor Janeen Kerper. The team experienced success, defeating Golden Gate School of Law in a competition in Spokane, WA.
Following graduation, Lauren joined a law firm in Oakland, where he practiced construction defect litigation until he accepted a position in county government. That was a natural progression as he had long had an interest in civics, government, and public policy. He joined the Office of the Alameda County Counsel in 1986, retiring in 2018.
“Contrary to the perception of some, the vast majority of civil service employees are devoted to public service,” states Lauren. “I had the honor and privilege of providing the legal support and guidance for multiple health and welfare programs and initiatives that bettered the lives of the indigent and underserved populations in our county. I provided legal counsel to our county’s hospital system and to our public health, environmental health, and behavioral health departments. During another segment of my tenure, I represented the Sheriff and assisted in the operations of our county jail and detention centers.”
Identifying the most challenging of his assignments, Lauren states, “Representing the Social Services Agency in juvenile court dependency proceedings was very challenging. It was emotionally difficult because of the heartbreaking child abuse and neglect that tore families apart.”
During yet another segment of his career, Lauren served as an employment/personnel attorney, representing multiple county departments in their roles as employers of civil service employees. He had also worked directly with elected members of the Board of Supervisors on a variety of special projects and legislative initiatives, both local and state-wide.
His advice to today's Cal Western students is to identify the social and entrepreneurial missions that speak to one’s core values and to direct a legal career accordingly, with passion and purpose. “Law practice is challenging and sometimes exhausting, but will be satisfying and rewarding if compatible with one’s value system and ideals,” says Lauren.
In retirement, Lauren is pursuing another of his passions—telling the stories of individuals whose lives are enriched through the pursuit of a “passion.” Brought to life in the form of Passionsillustrated.com, Lauren says this is an idea that has been living within him for twenty years.
“I enjoy illustrating the passion through the mind and heart of the individual,” says Lauren. “The common thread is how passion has impacted life for the better. I profile passions in hopes of entertaining and educating the reader, and to perhaps motivate the reader to find and actively pursue their passion.”
It is Lauren’s conviction that one who passionately engages in an activity not only gets pleasure from doing so but also enjoys a “spillover effect” that lightens the more routine aspects of life.
He is also developing a pilot project, “Heritage Africa,” through which he hopes to arrange and finance multiple cultural and heritage visits to Ghana, Africa, for interested African American citizens of his community. At the same time, he has some interesting ideas for raising funds that would permit local public schools to restore once again music and art programs that had been cut due to budget restraints.
From California Western to a career dedicated to public service and his community, Jason Lauren is the embodiment of how passion can fill one’s life.