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Lawyers, Leaders, and Ladies (Little Babies too)

by Laura Lee Partington

Here is a truncated list of common comments/queries about my 6-week-old daughter when we venture out in public.

1) “Look at that hair!” 
2) “She’s so cute/pretty/darling/adorable!” 
3) “What did you name her?”

It’s that third one that normally throws people, and therefore me, for a loop. A woman whom I don’t know recently went through the entire list, and when we got to number 3, I took a deep breath and said, “Wren?Wren Geneva.”

The woman looked at me quizzically and then did what adults love to do to tiny children: proclaim what they will be when they grow up. “Oh, that sounds like a name for a country singer? or a pageant queen.” Somehow, I pulled my thoughts away from Wren becoming a toddler in a tiara quickly enough to respond with this: “I was thinking more along the lines of a Supreme Court Justice.”

The woman smiled vaguely, turned, and left us to our own crazy devices.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor went on Sesame St. to talk about careers and explained that being a princess didn’t quite qualify. Brilliant!

Anyone who encountered to me more than once in the law school last year probably remembers that I was slightly obsessed with the fact that there is a decline in the number of female applicants and therefore a slip in the number of women in law schools across the country. Just over 10 years ago, women made up slightly more than half of students pursuing a JD. This percentage has declined steadily since 2002, and nary a proper study nor explication for the trend has emerged.

I, for one, would like to see the trend change. I would also like to see more women in leadership positions and C-level jobs, more women in legislative roles, more women as partners of law firms (rather than the abysmal 13%), and more women entrepreneurs. Why wouldn’t I? It opens up my daughter’s options.

I’m not saying that a stranger at a ball field could change the course of my daughter’s life by merely suggesting potential professions, but I would prefer that maybe one or two people suggest to my daughter that she can be whatever she wants to be. I would love to see an increasing umber of brilliant female colleagues challenging the status quo.

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