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The Law Firm That Turned Down Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Every so often, law firms make foolish personnel decisions with repercussions that acquire a far longer than anticipated shelf life, preserved even longer than Twinkies by the power of the blogosphere.  And if you don't believe it, consider the legacy of firms like Reed Smith, Sidley Austin or Sullivan & Cromwell.  So up until now, powerhouse law firm Paul Weiss should consider itself fortunate that its decision back in 1959 to reject Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predated the advent of the Internet.  Otherwise, the firm might have looked awfully foolish.  Or perhaps not.  Because as I learned in this engrossing profile,
Balancing Act: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Remembers Her First Steps in the Law, Ginsburg is grateful to the law firms that spurned her, explaining that if she had been able to get a job in a corporate law firm when she finished law school, she would be a retired partner today, not a Supreme Court justice.

If you have the time, take a look at the Ginsburg profile.  Most of all, it bears out that when it comes to the success of women in the profession, so much has changed (presumably, firms no longer reject female candidates with Ginsburg's credentials), yet so much still remains the same: While law firm policies are important, ultimately, it takes a family (in Ginsburg's case, a supportive husband and in-laws) and an ability to overcome adversity for women to maximize their professional potential in the law.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 12, 2007 at 04:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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