Cahill with her sons, Owen and Reed, in the 1990s.
Owen now works in her law office.
With presidential candidate Barack Obama in Philadelphia in October 2008. From left:
Rev. Eric Dobson, Rev. Ellis Washington, Cahill, Obama, Mayor Michael Nutter and his
wife, Lisa. Cahill estimates that 75 percent of her time, energy and attention in 2008
went to the Obama campaign.
But after a six-day trial in April 2010, a
jury awarded Blake $225,000 in damages.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld the award in July 2011.
“That investigation uncovered that the
county has a broad track record of such
abuses,” Cahill says. “Now I represent
firefighters and paramedics and police
officers and civilians.”
The case rippled the pond, which is fine
by Cahill. She’s a longtime pond rippler.
The Civil Rights Act of 1991, for
example, provided damages for
discrimination violations in federal cases,
but under Maryland state law there was
no recourse for damages. Maryland was
one of the last states, Cahill says, where
citizens couldn’t get meaningful economic
damages in state court.
For years, Cahill worked to get the clout
of various legal organizations she belonged
to—such as Maryland Trial Lawyers (now
Maryland Association for Justice Inc.),
of which she was once legislative chair,
and the Maryland Employment Lawyers
Association, of which she was also once
chair—behind legislation that would allow
Maryland residents to bring lawsuits in
state court asking for damages. Each year,
as the Legislature met, Cahill would lobby
lawmakers in hallways and offices and at
hearings. By 2007, she had made her point
with a simple argument: If you go into the
grocery store and slip on a banana peel, you
can sue; but if you apply for a job and the
manager refuses to hire you because of your
race, you can’t even use your state court.
THERE AREN’ T ENOUGH HOURS IN THE
day to do everything Cahill wants to
do. At 55, she is freckle-faced, slim and
energetic. She rows crew five days a week,
practices Pilates and built a fully stocked
gym in her office. She likes moving fast
and jumping high.
The daughter of a well-known Baltimore
lawyer and a figure skating judge, Cahill
started skating at 2 years old. Back
then, the sport focused on the technical
precision of figure eights, and Cahill and
her two sisters spent long hours at the
rink. It taught Cahill discipline. Both of
her sisters went on to become respected
skating coaches but Cahill describes
herself as a restless skater. As a teenager,
she spent one summer in France appearing
in outdoor ice shows in the Alps.