Memphis’s First Professional Mediator is the  30th recipient of the Association for Women Attorneys (AWA) Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award

Jocelyn Wirzburg

A fifth-generation Memphian and dedicated trailblazer, Jocelyn Wurzburg became a civic and political activist. But when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, she focused on race relations, creating the Memphis Panel of American Women to facilitate racial reconciliation, bridge differences and try to bring some sanity to a city that was devastated. In 1969, she led a women’s march on City Hall demanding the city and the sanitation workers avert a second strike. This civil rights activity led to her appointment to the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) by Gov. Winfield Dunn in 1972.  Upon learning the THRC had no enforceable anti-discrimination law, she wrote one.  With the help of the Memphis Chapter of the NAACP, it became Tennessee’s first anti-discrimination law covering employment and public accommodations.

This process inspired law school, but her studies were interrupted when President Gerald Ford appointed her to the International Women’s Year Commission. She subsequently helped plan the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston. Secretary of Transportation William Coleman appointed her to the Minority Resource Center of the Federal Railroad Administration.

A 1962 Rhodes College graduate, Ms. Wurzburg received a bachelor of arts degree in sociology/anthropology. She entered law school later in life and graduated in 1980 from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.  Thereafter, she associated with an estate firm to handle their “other cases” – which meant divorces. Litigation’s hurtful effect on children led Ms. Wurzburg to start her own firm and become Memphis’s first professional mediator in 1984. She is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 mediator and trainer and was a board member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

A founding member of the Association for Women Attorneys (AWA), Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women (T-LAW), and the Mediation Association of Tennessee, Ms. Wurzburg is former president of the Memphis Bar Association (MBA) Family Law and ADR sections. She retired from law practice in 2005, but continues to mediate family law cases, workplace disputes for the Postal Service and ADA claims for the Department of Justice.

In 2007, Gov. Phil Bredesen re-appointed Ms. Wurzburg to the Tennessee Human Rights Commission; thus she was able to help enforce a law she wrote 47 years ago.

A devoted jazz fan, she helped found the Jazz Society of Memphis because she’s always felt that music could bring people together. She serves on the WUMR advisory board and also is a strong supporter of WKNO Radio.

Ms. Wurzburg has won numerous awards for her civil rights and feminist activities, including Women of Achievement for Courage, the Legacy Award from the Women’s Foundation, the Tennessee Tribune Person of the Year, Heritage Trail Award, Planned Parenthood’s Lifetime of Achievement award and the NAACP Service Award, as well as an annual Civil Rights award given by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission that bears her name.

Her journey from “Jewish American Princess” to award-winning civil rights activist is chronicled through a collection of stories within the book she authored, Jocie: Southern Jewish American Princess, Civil Rights Activist, (published April 25, 2018).

She now adds the AWA Marion Griffin-Frances Loring award to her litany of accolades. This honor is especially dear to her as Frances Loring was her friend and legal mentor.The

The Association for Women Attorneys (AWA) 39th Annual Banquet will take place on Jan. 29, 2019 at 409 S. Main Street, Memphis, Tenn. 38103

Event begins at  6 p.m. with a cocktail reception featuring live entertainment from David Pool and Jimmy Smith of the Risky Whiskey Boys, as well as a wine pull.
Seated dinner and program begins at 7 p.m.

  • Induction of 2019 AWA Board Officers and Committee Chairs
  • Passing of the AWA presidential gavel from Eileen Kuo, attorney with Jackson Lewis, P.C., to Laura Deakins, attorney with Lewis Thomason
  • Also during the evening, AWA will award scholarships to deserving students from the University of  Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

$60 for AWA members; $70 for nonmembers and $30 for law students
Tables: $480 for 8 and $600 for 10.

BANQUET INFO/Tickets: AWA Banquet Co-Chair Megan Warden, or call Megan at 901-821-0044. Please make checks payable to AWA Foundation.

The 200-member Association for Women Attorneys (AWA) was formed in 1979 and is made up of attorneys from the Mid-South. The president and board members serve one-year terms.

The purpose of the AWA is to support colleagues in the challenges they face as women and as attorneys, through mentoring AWA student chapter members and promoting public service in the community.

In an effort to support aspiring attorneys, AWA conducts fundraising activities for its scholarship fund, such as continuing legal education seminars, special events throughout the year, and a golf tournament.  There is also a mentorship program in place to foster relationships between attorney mentors and University of Memphis law students. In addition, the association members are encouraged to give back to the community by providing pro bono work to citizens who cannot otherwise afford legal assistance.