Five years ago, Jennifer S. Freel returned to private practice after spending nearly a decade as a federal prosecutor for the Austin Division of the Western District of Texas. She quickly found a sense of community after joining the Dallas Chapter of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association (WWCDA). However, she knew that women attorneys in Austin like herself could benefit from having their own WWCDA chapter. So, when she was approached about possibly founding an Austin chapter, she jumped at the opportunity.
Now, after spending the past year planning and connecting with fellow women attorneys in the white collar defense practice in Austin, Jennifer proudly celebrates the launch of the Austin Chapter on April 5, 2023.
From left: Anne Derrig, Leslie Boykin, Jennifer Freel, Stephanie Cagniart, Shana Logue, Christie Williams, and Tori Coates. On Wednesday, April 5, the Austin Chapter of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association met for the first time. Jennifer Freel, as a Founding Member and the Chapter Leader, welcomed attendees and expressed appreciation to Shana Logue, a consultant with the Berkeley Research Group, for helping bring the idea of the Austin Chapter to reality.
“With Austin being a mid-size city and the white collar defense practice being such a niche area, it’s all the more reason why women attorneys in this practice should get to know one another and connect,” Jennifer said.
As the fledgling chapter gets off the ground, Jennifer is excited to host local networking events so that women attorneys who represent clients in government investigations can build a community and grow from one another’s experience. The goal, she noted, is for the chapter to add up to 20 new members.
“The founders of WWCDA were real trailblazers when there was only one woman in the room in big white collar investigations. Now that there are more of us, we need to keep growing women participation in the practice and to support one another to meet our professional goals,” she remarked.
The WWCDA, established in 1999, was created to address the need for more women in the white collar practice and in existing professional white collar organizations. With the addition of Austin, WWCDA now has 48 chapters throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific.
Jennifer S. Freel is a partner in the Investigations & White Collar Defense practice of Jackson Walker’s Austin office. A former Assistant United States Attorney in the Austin Division of the Western District of Texas, Jennifer advises businesses and individuals under investigation by the government and conducts internal investigations for companies seeking an independent party. She also represents clients in civil disputes at the pre-trial, trial, and appellate levels in state and federal court, and is board certified in Criminal Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
In addition to serving as Chapter Leader of WWCDA Austin, Jennifer is an elected Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, a member of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, a barrister in the Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court, a past chair of the Criminal Law Section of the Federal Bar Association, and a past president of the Austin Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. She has been ranked among the top Texas attorneys for Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business since 2021, and was named among The Best Lawyers in America for Criminal Defense: White Collar (Austin) in 2022.