The road to law school wasn’t always smooth.
CATHARINE BIGGS ARROWOOD, Wake
Forest University School of Law, 1976;
partner, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein;
current president of the North Carolina
Bar Association: My father was a lawyer.
And my favorite TV show was Perry
Mason. I actually have an autographed
Raymond Burr picture that’s sitting in my
office. I could never get my dad to take
me to court because my mother didn’t
think that was a proper place for a young
lady. But finally … Susie Sharp came to
my hometown to try a case. After much
begging, my mother relented and my
dad took me. I sat in that courtroom and
watched her run court and thought, “This
is what I want to do.”
CAROLYN BURNETTE INGRAM, Wake
Forest University School of Law, 1972;
founding partner, Ingram & Ingram: I had
an uncle who would always start out with
a topic—maybe something of political
interest, but always challenging—and
he would make a statement and ask my
opinion. Then he would give an opposite
opinion and tell me that I needed to
indicate to him how and why he might not
be correct. To this day, we still talk about
politics, history, government and the law.
He was one of my role models.
ARLENE DIOSEGY, Temple University
School of Law, 1974; partner, Williams
Mullen: I had a professor whom I asked for a
reference. He said he wouldn’t write one for
me. I had gotten a good grade in his class. I
could not believe those words were coming
out of his mouth! What do you mean, you
won’t give me a recommendation to go to
law school? His response was, “I don’t think
women have analytical-enough minds to be
lawyers.” I thought, “Well, I’ll show him.”
ARROWOOD: When I got to college, my
family wanted me to become a teacher but
I didn’t like it, and I wasn’t very good at it.
I secretly applied to [law school at] Duke,
Carolina and Wake Forest, got in all three,
and then my dad said, “How are you going
to pay for it?” I thought he’d be excited. So
that’s how I ended up at Wake Forest law
school—they gave me a scholarship.
Once they got to law school, they loved it—
even if they did stick out.
DIOSEGY: I sat down for one of my first
classes in a very large lecture hall. We were
all introducing ourselves before the professor
arrived. A guy next to me said, “I have to tell
you something: I resent that you’re here.
You’re taking up the space of someone
who wants to support his family and you’re
just here to find a husband.” Fast forward
three years and we were good friends. He
apologized for the remark that first week.
BONNIE WEYHER, University of North
Carolina School of Law, 1977; founding
attorney, Yates, McLamb & Weyher:
Women were approximately 20 percent of
my class. I never felt any of the professors
treated any of the women differently. …
I was pleasantly surprised about that.
There had been women for years, but they
were much fewer in number. We always
claimed to be the first class to have women
intramural sports teams. We had our own
basketball team and softball team. We
weren’t very good, but we tried.
INGRAM: When I started in the fall of 1969,
there was one other woman. I did not feel any
type of resentment [from the male students];
I did not hear any negative comments. The
male students were very professional and
treated me with courtesy and respect.
ARROWOOD: There were 10 or 11 women in
my law school class. Although plenty of the
men and professors did not want us there,
I never felt intimidated or worried about it.
There were several women in my class that
were on the receiving end of some pretty
harsh … I guess “hazing” is the right word. But
it didn’t happen to me. When I started looking
for a job, that was a whole other story.
Finding a job or internship, at least in private
practice, wasn’t easy.
DIOSEGY: I decided to go back to my
hometown and see if [the local firms]
would hire somebody. I was a second-year
student. Most of the time I couldn’t get
past the receptionist. But when I did, this
one lawyer looked at me and looked at my
resumé and said, “Well, it was nice talking
to you, but we don’t have a job for you this
summer. And next summer, one of my
partner’s sons, he just got into law school
CAROLYN BURNETTE INGRAM
· FOUNDING PARTNER, INGRAM & INGRAM
· FAMILY LAW
· NORTH CAROLINA SUPER LAW YERS:
· MANAGING PARTNER, OLIVE & OLIVE
· INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
· NORTH CAROLINA SUPER LAWYERS:
2006-2015; TOP 50 WOMEN: 2006-2007
· PARTNER, WOMBLE CARLYLE
SANDRIDGE & RICE
· ESTATE PLANNING & PROBATE
· NORTH CAROLINA SUPER LAWYERS:
2006-2015; TOP 50 WOMEN: 2006-2012;
TOP 100: 2006-2010