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SV Business Journal Honors Attorney Laura Palazzolo as 2017 Woman of Influence

March 13, 2017 |
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Berliner Cohen LLP is pleased to announce that Laura Palazzolo, distinguished litigation attorney, has been selected by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal as one of the 2017 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley. The Journal’s Women of Influence special supplement on April 3 features her along with 99 other outstanding Silicon Valley women.  Honorees have been selected from the private, public and nonprofit sectors. To view the full list of honorees, click here.

Laura Palazzolo is exactly the kind of woman one would think of when asked to name a “woman of influence.” Dean of the Lincoln Law School of San Jose, associate at one of San Jose’s oldest and largest law firms, dedicated community volunteer, international philanthropist, and mother of three – Ms. Palazzolo is truly the picture of a self-made woman. For thirty-five years, Laura has been elected to successive leadership roles, beginning all the way back in high school, when she was chosen to represent California’s young women, ages 13-17, as “California Miss.”

Upon graduation from high school, it’s no surprise she was designated “Most Likely to Succeed” by her peers. Continuing her upward arc in college, she earned the title of Miss Santa Clara County, and as a broadcast television major, was an integral part of the team that launched the early morning newscasts on San Jose News Channel – now, NBC Bay Area News (channel 11, San Jose). Ms. Palazzolo entered law school as the mother of three young children, ages four, 18 months, and three months.

“I know what it is like to try to go to school at night and concentrate after an already full day of work and family responsibilities,” says Ms. Palazzolo.

Undeterred by the obstacle of juggling family, work, and school responsibilities, Laura’s work ethic and tenacity paid off, and she graduated as valedictorian of her law school class. As if academic achievement were not enough, Laura spent her time in law school serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Lincoln Law Review, and was elected by her fellow students as the “Most Outstanding Graduate”.

Soon thereafter, Ms. Palazzolo became an attorney at one of San Jose’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious law firms – Berliner Cohen, in 2005. Her law practice focuses on business and real estate disputes. Not long after graduating from law school, Ms. Palazzolo was hired by Lincoln Law School to tutor the second year class in real property concepts, and within a few years, became the Professor of Real Property. Since Lincoln Law School of San Jose is strictly a night school program, she was able to teach concurrently with managing her practice at Berliner Cohen – a feat most would not attempt – but then, Laura is not like most women. Eventually, Ms. Palazzolo became an Academic Dean at Lincoln, then an Associate Dean. Ultimately, she was appointed Dean of Lincoln Law School of San Jose in August of 2015.

In the summer of 2016, while serving as Interim Dean, Ms. Palazzolo moved the entire law school to a new location closer to San Jose State University, while simultaneously trying a case in Modesto that lasted six weeks. The case concluded in the middle of July, and the new campus opened to great fanfare in August. Ms. Palazzolo took the reins at Lincoln Law School of San Jose during a time of significant turmoil in legal education, and promptly and completely reconstructed the school’s leadership team and overhauled the budget. Her adept guidance at the helm resulted in a tripling of the school’s financial reserves within 18 months and $500,000 in additional revenues by the end of her first year.

Laura is committed to the vision of Lincoln Law School, “…to create a path to a better life for non-traditional students who want to become attorneys and serve the communities traditional law graduates may overlook, ” and invests her own time and energy into seeing her accomplishments pave the way for new successes. Lincoln students are single parents, immigrants for whom English is a second (or third) language, older professionals for whom a law degree paves the way to corporate advancement (or who seek to change professions entirely), entrepreneurs looking to advance their business opportunities, and engineers seeking to understand, and be certified or licensed in, intellectual property law.

Ms. Palazzolo’s personal involvement with the students (she spends at least three nights a week on campus) from before admission through graduation and beyond is what has made some of the most meaningful changes at the school, and her focused attention on the revitalization of Lincoln’s academic success programs has resulted in larger class sizes and a happier, more successful student body.

As Dean, Laura leans on her personal experiences to sustain her motivation and dedication to Lincoln and its hard-working students.

“Working men and women who can find a way to survive showing up to class three or four nights a week for four long years – all for a chance to better their families’ futures – are my heroes,” says Ms. Palazzolo.

“Lincoln changed my life and it is my honor to try to do what I can to make the Lincoln opportunity available to others.”

Consistent with her determination to assist the underdog, this summer, Ms. Palazzolo was part of a team at Berliner Cohen that defended a San Francisco family against the strong arm litigation tactics of a big New York developer, ultimately securing one of San Francisco’s largest real estate transactions of 2016 and paving the way for much-needed additional high density housing in the City. Outside of the courtroom and the classroom, Ms. Palazzolo has been a volunteer with Youth Focus, Inc. for 40 years, now serving as a competition judge and member of its Board of Directors. She is also on the Board of Directors for Christian Counseling Center of San Jose, and has been a member of the Downtown Rotary Club of San Jose for nearly a decade. She recently traveled to India and Nepal on a Rotary outreach to partner with local clubs on an English language literacy project.

Ms. Palazzolo is a beautiful example of the person who has “worked her way up from the bottom.” From a student at Lincoln Law School of San Jose to becoming Dean, from being the first in her family to graduate from college, to a senior position at one of the largest law firms in San Jose, and from a tenacious six year old competing in Youth Focus talent competitions to being appointed to the Youth Focus Board, Laura has shown persistence, drive, courage, and a dogged determination to be the best she can be for herself, her family, and her community.

“My mother told me I could be anything,” Ms. Palazzolo says. “My father taught me to stay the course – put your head down and do the work. I have been blessed with a career that I love, so it is truly a pleasure to work hard in roles that lead others to their own success.”

Please join us in congratulating Ms. Palazzolo as one of the Business Journal’s 2017 Women of Influence.

For more information about the awards dinner and to make reservations, click here.

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