Women Who Move the City

On a desk in the tastefully decorated conference room of the Brown Law Group, a small silver frame holds a snapshot of the late San Diego attorney Bonnie Reading. Janice P. Brown cites her as a mentor she’ll never forget.

“She had a sense of my future that was beyond what I could see,” says Brown. “She taught me that it’s okay to be scared, and if someone growls at you, you may have to growl back. I got an award from the California Association of Black Lawyers in 1995, and the ceremony was up in Los Angeles. She introduced me at that dinner, and it was a big deal because she was going through chemotherapy. She died that fall but she looked awesome; she didn’t even look sick. She brought other people from the firm where we worked and they came. I’ll never forget it.”

Brown’s career in law wasn’t intentional. She had hoped to be a radio or TV journalist, but a bad bicycle accident changed her course.

“My face was so disfigured that I thought I couldn’t do that kind of work,” she says. “I applied to the Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, and graduated in two years.” Over time, Brown’s injuries healed, and in 2003, she launched her own firm. Staffed with six attorneys, her organization specializes in employment law and business litigation.

Brown currently lives in Kensington with her husband, Marine Lieutenant Colonel David Fennell. Her latest passion is a new consulting business called Beyond Measure (powerfulbeyondmeasure.com), an organization she believes will help to positively influence future lawyers to reach their goals.

“One of the benefits of being 50 is that I understand that time is mighty precious and there is less of it to waste,” says Brown. “I think I can help shape San Diego by helping to encourage young lawyers to take risks and follow up with the things Bonnie taught me to do. It’s not just about my coloring or being a woman; it’s diversity of thought. I think that’s what I offer. I’ve gotten a number of attorney awards, but I think Beyond Measure is what I’m supposed to do — help young people be the best they can be.”

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