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5 Female Lawyers Who Changed Your Life - ThinkstockPhotos-476293709-c.jpg

5 female lawyers who changed your life

hillary-clinton

International Women’s Day is quickly approaching on March 8, so it’s the perfect time to celebrate our nation’s most influential female lawyers.

This list is far from complete, but does include five iconic women, many of whom you’ve probably heard of, who have had a positive impact in our nation. Tell us who we missed in the comments and we’ll add them to the list!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Columbia Law School

Notable Career Positions:
United States Supreme Court Justice
Co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU
Founder of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal to focus exclusively on women’s rights

Ginsburg has served as a justice on the United States Supreme Court since 1993 and is known for her pro-women stance on most issues. However, she also has a solid record of championing women’s rights prior to her appointment. One of the most influential cases argued by Ginsburg is Reed v Reed. The case was about a married couple, Sally and Cecil Reed, who got in a conflict over who would be the executor of their son’s estate when he passed away and didn’t leave a will. Both Sally and Cecil Reed filed with the state to be the executor but because of an Idaho law that states “males must be preferred to females” as estate administrators, Cecil was granted administorship. Reed v Reed went all the way to the Supreme Court where the law was found to be unconstitutional. The landmark ruling ended gender discrimination in estate executorship in 1972.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Yale Law School

Notable Career Positions:
Secretary of State
United States Senate
First Lady of the United States

Whether you agree with her politics or not, Clinton helped redefine the role of the American First Lady. She refused to be cornered into performing the stereotypical feminine traditions and received a great deal of criticism for becoming overly involved in government affairs. During the 1990’s, Clinton helped change political culture in Washington by urging that half of all senior political appointees from President Clinton be women. This not only changed the culture, but influenced policy making in the United States. At the 1995’s 4th World Conference on Women, Clinton iconically declared, “Women’s rights are human rights,” and this was just the beginning of Clinton’s time on the world stage. Since then, she has gone on to serve as a US Senator and Secretary of State, and even pursue presidential ambitions of her own.

 

Elizabeth Dole
Harvard Law School

Notable Career Positions:
US Secretary of Transportation
US Secretary of Labor
President of the American Red Cross

Do you buckle up when you ride in a car? (You should!) Well, we can thank Dole for that. During her time as the Secretary of Transportation, Dole implemented many of the strictest transportation safety standards the US had ever seen, including requiring new cars to have seat belts and airbags. Dole also received a Humanitarian award from the National Commission Against Drunk Driving for her work to increase the legal drinking age to 21. In addition to all of this, Dole spent eight years as president of the American Red Cross and helped to implement many of the blood testing safety standards we know today.

 

Sarah Weddington
University of Texas Law School

Notable Career Positions:
General Counsel for USDA
Texas House of Representatives
Youngest person to successfully argue a Supreme Court case and win

Weddington graduated law school in the late 1960’s, a time when the legal profession was almost completely dominated by men. Right out of school, she ended up getting involved with a case that peaked her interest personally, so she chose to work on it for free. At the age of 26, Weddington became the youngest person ever to successfully argue a Supreme Court case and win. That case was Roe v. Wade.

 

Bella Abzug
Columbia Law School

Notable Career Positions:
US House of Representatives

Abzug is arguably one of the most influential women’s rights activist you’ve never heard of. She graduated law school in the 1940’s and was vocal about her frustrations with how often she was assumed to be the secretary by her male colleagues. Throughout her career, Abzug advocated tirelessly for the rights of everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation and became the first person to introduce a gay rights bill to Congress. She established both the National Women’s Political Caucus alongside Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem as well as the Women’s Environmental Development Organization.

 

Don’t forget to tell us who you think should be included on this list in the comments!

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