Back to Deaconland
Jocelyn Burton ('80)
After living in California for the better part of 25 years, Jocelyn Burton ('80) traded in a high-profile position in the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco for a decidedly lower-key one as a private attorney in Winston-Salem. She left behind a busy office in the 1960s' federal courthouse in San Francisco's Tenderloin district — which she generously describes as a "challenging" area — for the cozier confines of a stately 1912 Tudor Revival mansion — once the home of industrialist P. Huber Hanes and later a funeral home — along a tree-lined street in Winston-Salem's West End area.
"I never thought I'd come back here to work," admits Burton, who moved back to Winston-Salem a year-and-a-half ago to practice employment law with Kilpatrick Stockton LLP. "My plan was to retire in North Carolina. For years, I had been telling my Wake Forest friends that we needed to find some property here so we could build our own assisted-living facility and retire together," she laughs. "I definitely didn't want to retire in California; it's too congested, too expensive."
Burton grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and Richmond, Va. After graduating from Wake Forest with a degree in history, she earned her master's degree in public policy from the University of Texas at Austin and moved to Sacramento, Calif., where she worked for two years as a program analyst for the state legislative budget committee. She earned her law degree from the University of Chicago and returned to California to practice law, first in private practice and then with the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco. After 11 years there as deputy chief and chief of the civil division, "I had done everything I could do there," she says. "You get to the point where you have to decide 'am I going to be a permanent government lawyer or am I going to go back to private practice?'"
A member of the University's Board of Trustees, Burton had frequently returned to Winston-Salem for trustee meetings, but hadn't considered moving back until friend Steve Berlin ('81, JD '84), a partner at Kilpatrick Stockton, encouraged her to consider joining the firm. It was a drastic lifestyle change, she admits, but she returned to a vastly different Winston-Salem than the one she left in 1980. Scores of restaurants have opened downtown, and there's a more vibrant social and cultural scene.
And she's traded in an hour-long commute from Oakland, and parking nightmares, for a 12-minute drive and her choice of parking spaces a few feet from her mansion office. "I really spend less time at home than I did in San Francisco, which most people wouldn't believe," she says. "Being in a smaller place, it's much easier to get to know people. I never go anywhere without running into someone I know, which is kind of weird after living in a large city."
— Kerry M. King ('85)
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, North Carolina Information: 336.758.5000 | Feedback