Three Paths

My oldest sister Lindsay always knew she wanted to be a doctor. My middle sister Jennifer graduated at the top of her college class but wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. I want the best of both worlds. My childhood was filled with demands from my father to "become a professional" in the future. He didn't care whether that meant becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but my two older sisters and I all knew he only wanted us to pursue one of those avenues. My father is a doctor who has practiced family medicine for thirty years. My mother, a…

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Grace M. Guisewite

Getting over it

The average law student is a woman, and her average superior is a man. I cared for about ten minutes and then got over it. Women and the law should not be a shocking relationship. It should not immediately conjure up the term "family law," nor invoke the picture of a single, suit-clad woman charging through the streets of New York, Blackberry in tow. Women and the law should simply be. The reality is that the average law student will be a female, but her superior will be a man. In a profession predicated upon teamwork this should not matter,…

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Erin Wiley

Meet Louise Arbour

I have come to realize that role models and mentors play important parts in the lives of aspiring female lawyers. I knew that I wanted to study law when, in 2000, I attended a presentation by Louise Arbour, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and now United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. As a fifteen year-old young woman, I was inspired by the intelligence, passion, and concern for the world which she demonstrated. I was also moved by the contribution she has made in the world through her work in the field of…

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Jennifer Lunsford

My stay-at-home father

Big Firm work, almost by definition, is stressful and unpredictable. The hours alone are enough to dissuade a family-oriented person, particularly a female, from taking more prestigious and rewarding positions in law. Unless one is willing to let her children be raised by hired help, or she is one of the lucky few with a stay-at-home husband, a woman must choose between her career and her family. I worked for a firm that is notorious for its poor retention of women. They tried to appear encouraging and accommodating of their female staff, but they refused to adjust the family-hostile work…

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Kim Y. Evans

Why I left a career in public health to go to law school

As an African American female, a former public health analyst with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for more than ten years prior to law school, and a volunteer for a variety of social service organizations during much of my adult life, I believe many of my life, work, and volunteer experiences have involved issues related to the advancement of women and the law.Having been reared by my mother alone beginning near age five gave me an early personal introduction to the struggles many women, particularly women of color, face in our society. Like so many women,…

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Tracy Walsh

Why I joined the DePaul student chapter of the Women’s Bar Association

This past semester I took jurisprudence. I felt that was the first time in law school that women were acknowledged in the curriculum. We studied feminist jurisprudence for two weeks, and how women's rights were reflected in Irish Brehon law. I had taken women's studies and sociology courses in college. But upon entering law school, I was just immersed in the maze that was the first year and forgot what it felt like to reflect on women in an academic setting. So this year, it was very rewarding to take jurisprudence and see women's issues and ideological movements at the…

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Christine Mathias

Public interest practice is a wellspring for reform of the entire legal profession

The old saw that "law is a conservative profession" is no excuse.Upon entering the legal profession, I am acutely aware that women are in the minority. This is based on the number of women I've seen at my school and in my limited legal experience, as well as the treatment towards women and women's attitudes in the field. There are double standards for women, and women are often reluctant to address this. Starting from law school, it seems that women are more apprehensive to discuss the topic of law at all. Law school rewards confidence and aggressiveness, it seems, and…

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Meghan Corman

My law school class is 60% female, but we still need a women’s student group.

I am fortunate to attend a law school where women are the majority. At Boalt Hall, approximately 60% of the students are women. Because of these numbers, I escaped many of the law school stereotypes, such as men speaking more often in class, or getting more face time with the professors. Perhaps these things do occur, however it is my perception that such gender stereotypes are not pervasive at Boalt Hall. In fact, some of my male classmates have complained that women are smarter, work harder, and get better grades, thus hurting their chances of performing well when graded on…

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Jennifer Keys

We can be “sheroes”

Being a woman in the legal profession--in particular a woman of color--presents unique challenges, but also creates an opportunity for sharing a different perspective. Although women no longer struggle for equality in the right to vote and in the right to education, women still must fight for equal opportunities in the workplace. As more women entered the American workforce, the tide of criticism against working mothers also rose. Some continue to blame mothers in the workplace for what they call the decline in the American family. However, I believe this is a tactic to prevent women from succeeding professionally and…

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Erica Rancilio

Refusing to Play By the Rules

To me, being a woman in the legal profession is an experience in perspective and solidarity. In general, being a woman in the legal profession means every day I must move forward. I must politely demand the appropriate balance of professionalism and familiarity in my working relationships. I must ensure that mentoring does not give way to paternalism. It means that I am enraged that some firms continue with the antiquated skirt requirement. And when my professor called me "honey" in front of participants at a law conference, it means I had to determine the most respectful and effective way…

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