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Webinar: Legal Career Paths During COVID-19: State Government Perspectives

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June 24, 2020 @ 12:00 pm 1:15 pm

This program offers no MCLE credit. You must register in advance to participate.

A Discussion Series Presented by the Environmental Law Section, California Lawyers Association.

Across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyday life, caused thousands of deaths, and unleashed unprecedented economic stress not seen since the 2008 Great Recession. These economic conditions have had an impact on the legal profession. Private law firms and in-house divisions are instituting pay cuts and reducing staff; local, state, and federal agencies are facing severe budget deficits leading to furloughs and hiring freezes; and non-profit legal organizations are seeing dwindling contributions and grants.

For attorneys and recent law school graduates, this economic uncertainty will present serious challenges to securing and/or retaining employment or a practice. What effect will this pandemic have on the legal profession? How should practitioners and recent law school graduates prepare to avoid career setbacks? What are lessons learned from previous economic recessions?

In this second installment, join state government practitioners for a discussion about how to navigate through these uncertain times.


  • Yvonne West, Director, State Water Board, Office of Enforcement
  • Ms. Drew Saruwatari, Senior Staff Attorney, Department of Pesticide Regulation, Office of Legal Affairs
  • Amy M. Serieys, Deputy Attorney, California Department of Transportation

Moderator: Nick Oliver, Staff Attorney, California Energy Commission

Yvonne West was promoted to Director of the Office of Enforcement in June of 2018. Prior to becoming Director, Ms. West was a prosecuting attorney with the Office of Enforcement since its formation in 2006, and most recently served as Senior Staff Counsel for the Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement Unit.
Before working for the State Water Resources Control Board, Ms. West was an attorney with the Sacramento law firm of Bartkiewicz, Kronick & Shanahan, concentrating in the areas of municipal water, natural resources, and environmental law. Ms. West earned a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from The George Washington University.

Drew Saruwatari has been an attorney at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for the past seven years. At the Department, she advises management on policy and program decisions and works with the California Attorney General’s Office on litigation involving the Department. She also handles enforcement cases against companies selling unlawful pesticide products and companies that pack, ship, or sell produce with illegal pesticide residue. She also works on labor and personnel issues, public records act requests, and administrative procedure act issues. Drew earned a B.S. in Environmental Biology and a B.A. in American Studies from UC Davis and a J.D. and certificate in environmental law from UC Davis School of Law.

Amy M. Serieys is a Deputy Attorney with the California Department of Transportation. Her practice areas include environmental, tort, and eminent domain litigation. At Caltrans, Amy handles a variety of environmental matters, including CEQA, NEPA, Water Board, and Clean Water Act cases, and manages her own cases from the initial pleadings to trial. Prior to Caltrans, Amy worked in private practice, conducting private enforcement actions under Proposition 65 and handling CERCLA matters. Amy has her LL.M. in Environmental Law from UCLA and her J.D. from the University of Ottawa, Canada.

Nick Oliver is a staff attorney in Sacramento for the California Energy Commission. Before joining state service, Nick worked as a local government attorney with the County of Sonoma and the City of Palo Alto. Nick is also Chair of the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA), which serves as the bar association for California lawyers within their first eight years of practice. You can learn more about CYLA at
Nick received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. He has also received a B.S. in Society & Environment and a B.A. in Media Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

We are committed to accessibility! Virtual events are equipped with closed captioning. To request an in-person accommodation, send us a note at or contact us at 916-516-1760 for assistance.


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