Partner, Baker, Manock & Jensen PC (Fresno, CA)
Area of Practice: Water and Public Law
Year Graduated: 2010
Undergraduate: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Major: Bachelor of Science (BS), Soil Sciences
Each month, Lauren D. Layne, '10, literally lives the issues her clients hold dear, traveling to the ranch she co-owns with her father where they grow oranges, grapefruit and olives, and raise sheep.
Layne is a water and public law attorney in Fresno. A partner at Baker, Manock & Jensen PC where she works in the Reclamation and Water Law, and Public Agency practice groups, Layne has spent her life cultivating a deep knowledge about the agricultural industry that she uses to help her clients grow food for Californians and beyond. Farming, Layne says, is "back-to-roots basic (because) you're growing the food that feeds our nation. There is something really rewarding about that."
At the age of six, Layne moved from the city to her parents' farm in Porterville, at the base of the Tulare County foothills. Her parents farmed oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, plums and olives. She worked on the farm and raised sheep for 4-H and FFA. At Modesto Junior College and at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she traveled the country on livestock judging teams. Knowing she wanted to work in water, Layne majored in soil science. She chose graduate school in law because of water's rich legal and political history. She wanted to be an advocate for farmers, irrigation and water districts.
In January 2011, Layne joined her firm as an associate attorney, representing both small and corporate farms, and irrigation and water districts. She chairs her firm's Reclamation and Water Law, and Public Agency practice groups. Layne says she enjoys being a voice for her clients, who often get caught in the middle of the state's water wars: They lack the rain and snow pack of the north and the urban water needs of the south, yet they grow the bulk of the state's food. If farms cease production, Layne says, Californians increasingly will have to rely on imported food. "It's almost a daily challenge trying to figure out how to bring new and creative ideas to keep our clients in business," she says.
Layne says that her background in water and agriculture gives her an advantage. She understands experts such as geologists and hydro-geologists, and what they need to know. "It's a big trust issue knowing that I have a background in agriculture, and I understand soil and how the water moves through the soil," she says.
At McGeorge, Layne boosted her water experience working for the California Farm Bureau Federation, as an intern for a water law firm in Stockton and externing for Justice Ronald B. Robie, a former State Water Resources Control Board member, at the Third District Court of Appeal. She further developed her law and leadership skills on the mock trial team and as a student associate for the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court, where she worked with attorneys and judges to put on monthly educational programs about legal ethics.
McGeorge, Layne says, encourages students to learn by doing. "Being able to participate in internships and externships, being a part of mock trial teams and getting those real-world experiences ... made a huge difference," she says.