Streams

Reshaping the Law

Thursday, February 19, 2009

After 1968 the number of women who enrolled in law school jumped 50 percent. That demographic change has altered the legal profession and American law ever since. Fred Strebeigh tells the story of the female lawyers who took on sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and violence against women in the in the book Equal: Women Resehape American Law.

Event: Fred Strebeigh will be reading and signing books
Friday, February 27 at 12:00 pm
The Westport Public Library
20 Jesup Rd., Westport, Connecticut
For more information, visit the Westport Public Library website.

Guests:

Fred Strebeigh
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Comments [3]

NABNYC from Southern California

If the number of women entering lawschool jumped 50% in the late 1960s, that means in each class, they went from 2 women to 3 women. So careful with those percentages.

I entered lawschool in 1979 and specifically looked for one that had more women and a social justice commitment. Yet we only had 40% women, and most of the larger schools at the time were about 30%. Since then, of course, women reached the 50% mark. It turns out women are just as capable as are men to learn and practice the law.

The problem comes when they leave law school. The law firms met this onslaught of women by changing the terms for partnership to make it more difficult for anyone to become partner. Women are routinely hired from 1-5 years out of law school, then they are simply discarded.

The profession as a whole has decided that women should be segregated into practicing (1) family law (you know how we like to talk about our problems with our boyfriends); (2) poverty law; and (3) anything-where-you-can't-earn-a-living-law. For the bread and butter work, that which pays, women are still excluded.

There are occasionally these insipid articles published in women's magazines asking "Where did all the women lawyers go?" because they disappear after about 5 years. The answer reached by the morons who write these articles is that all these women who spent 3 years in law school and ran up thousands in debt suddenly decide, at about the age of 30, that they will work no more, and instead stay home, have babies, bake cookies.

The truth is that women disappear after about 5 years because nobody will hire them.

As for the judges, in my county women continue to be held down to 18% of the positions although we are 50% of the attorneys and the population.

It's not a nice profession. I make my living in the area of business and real estate litigation, but I am usually the only woman in the room. Luckily I'm very mean, so they can't get rid of me.

Feb. 19 2009 01:08 PM
Lori from Montclair, NJ

Good conversation.

Unfortunately, the equal number of women graduating from law school (for a few decades now) is not at all reflected in the percentage of women in partner positions in major firms or in the Supreme Court.

Feb. 19 2009 12:35 PM
Muhammad from New York

Is there any way to reconcile the Reed case with the VMI case -- in which Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion. Doesn't VMI make it more difficult to prove an equal protection violation for gender discrimination than Reed?

Feb. 19 2009 12:16 PM

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