Career Spotlight: Sherri L. Johnson
As a rising woman leader in Florida’s legal community, UF Law alum Sherri L. Johnson (JD 97) is urging female UF Law students to get involved and begin making contact with female attorneys and judges throughout Florida.
Johnson, who specializes in property tax litigation in Sarasota, is this year’s president of the Florida Association for Women Layers.
In addition to social opportunities, the organization is a great way to make business connections, Johnson said.
“I’ve met all of my best friends through the association, and it’s a great way to meet attorneys and judges from around the state,” she said. “It’s a great luxury to be able to travel all around the state and know people in Tallahassee, Jacksonville and South Florida.”
Johnson recently came back to UF Law’s campus to see old friends and try to start a FAWL law school chapter. As President, she wants to expand the organization’s reach, she said.
“I want to get chapters at every law school, especially here at UF where I went to school,” she said. “I’m looking for some female student leaders who want to begin making connections and friendships with practicing lawyers and judges.” Johnson says there’s no better way to make connections for future jobs and also get real world experience as a member of Florida’s legal community.
“FAWL provides an immediate connection to practicing lawyers,” she said. “The opportunity to socialize, meet, interact and attend meetings gives you a fast track to a job after graduation.” Student members can contribute right away and attend meetings, she said.
“All students are invited to all the meetings, and each FAWL chapter can send voting delegates,” Johnson said. “The women legal leaders involved get to know the law school representatives by their first names, which can lead to incredible opportunities.”
Johnson would like the association to have more presence in rural areas and will lobby this year for women and less fortunate people who cannot afford legal representation.
“We need more representation in rural areas, because we have discovered that’s where women need help the most,” she said. “In addition, Florida is the only state in the U.S. that does not provide a court filing fee waiver to people who cannot afford legal services, and we will lobby to change that.”
An already experienced attorney, Johnson recalls that in her first year practicing, she argued in front of Florida’s Supreme Court.
“At that point I didn’t know enough yet to be scared in front of the court,” she said. “When you’re that new, all you care about is winning and serving your client the best you can.”
As a property tax lawyer, Johnson works with county property appraisers and interprets laws for her clients, she said.
“The thing I like best about the law I practice is the opportunity to make new law all the time,” she said. “There’s always appeals to work on, and with the new property tax amendment, there will certainly be lots of work to be done.” Johnson says it’s important for law students to consider working for small and mid size firms, and not just large ones in the future.
“Students have a tendency to just look at the firms who come to campus for interviews or who have the big name,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to work for small to mid-size firms, because they are eager for young attorneys and can provide great pay, mentoring and experience.”