It was unusual, even in the late ’60s, for
women to consider the law as a profession,
but it helped if you had family support.
WENDY COLE LASCHER, University of
Michigan Law School, 1973, partner at
Ferguson Case Orr Paterson in Ventura:
My mother went to Stanford Law School
and graduated in 1949, and in her law
school class there were only two women.
It had never occurred to anyone in my
family that it was unusual to have a
woman go to law school.
EDITH R. MATTHAI, University of California
Hastings College of Law, 1975, founding
partner at Robie & Matthai in Los Angeles:
My grandmother was a teacher. My mother
was a teacher. My mother’s assumption
was that I would not be staying home with
PATTY GLASER, Rutgers University, 1973,
partner and chair of litigation at Glaser
Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro in Los
Angeles: I was watching baseball with my
father on TV. I’d had an epiphany in fifth
grade—I was going to grow up and play
Major League Baseball—and I looked at my
dad and said, “Dad, I don’t understand it,
there aren’t any girls on the field.” Without
blinking or hesitating, he said, “Don’t
worry. By the time you’re old enough,
there’ll be plenty of women.” That’s how I
was brought up.
PATRICIA PHILLIPS, Loyola Law School,
1967, partner at Phillips Jessner in Los
Angeles: I wanted to have a job where I
could hopefully be my own boss. I was a
single mother with two children at the time
I began law school. When I finished law
school, I was a married mother with four
children, and when I took the bar exam I
was a married mother pregnant with my
fifth child. I was doing it because I basically
thought the law would provide me with
more flexibility for all the other things I was
trying to do.
TIMI ANYON HALLEM, UCLA School
of Law, 1972, equity partner at Manatt,
Phelps & Phillips in Los Angeles: I went to
a women’s college and grew up in a family
where my parents made it clear I could do
whatever I wanted to do. I didn’t expect to
find these stumbling blocks.
But there were stumbling blocks—even in
PHILLIPS: There were very few women in
our class. I’m not sure how many but I’d
venture to say maybe 10.
CYNTHIA GITT, George Washington
University Law School, 1971, member at
Brown Gitt Law Group in Pasadena: Yeah,
there were professors who made passes
at the women students, and even had
affairs with some of the women students.
VIRGINIA SPIEGEL CRISTE, George
Washington University Law School, 1969,
Virginia S. Criste, A Professional Law
Corp. in Palm Desert: The guys thought
the women would take much better
notes than the men. They’d always want
to borrow my notes and they couldn’t
read them. “How could you be a woman
and take such indecipherable notes?”
GAIL MIGDAL TITLE, University of
California-Berkeley School of Law,
partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman
in Century City: I didn’t get called on
for six months, and then in the spring
of my first year I got called on in two
classes in a row, on the same day. I
always wondered if it was coincidence
or if some professors had agreed it was
“time to call on a woman,” and there
were not many to choose from. The
anxiety about being called on had been
building up for months, and suddenly
I’m called on and I’m standing for 10
minutes being asked question after
question. Everybody’s watching you.
One hundred men. I did fine.
BETTY L. NORDWIND, University of
Colorado Law School, 1971, executive
director at Harriett Buhai Center for Family
Law in Los Angeles: If I was discriminated
against, I was too unsophisticated to be
aware of it at the time, although I was
acutely aware of the fact that there were
almost no women lawyers to mentor me
and very few women law students.
GITT: I think it varied a lot by professor.
My torts professor … kept talking about
President Johnson’s “great erection.” I forget
what the context was, but he repeated it so
often it seems like it was deliberate.
After graduation, depending on the firm,
new female lawyers might encounter raving
sexists who worried a woman’s presence
would affect the men, or progressive
interviewers, male and female, who were
pleased to help balance the gender scales.
HALLEM: It was difficult to get jobs.
Interviewers were sometimes quite open
about the fact that they were not willing to
hire women. Men in my class were clear about
the fact that I was depriving some worthy
man of a job he would need to support his
family. It was a time when it was not at all
embarrassing to express your distaste for
having women enter the profession. … Well,
at least you knew where people stood.
GITT: My first job after law school
was working as a legislative aide to
Congresswoman Bella Abzug of New York. I
was actually her legislative aide for women’s
issues. It was exciting because she would
have Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan
and various people come to our office. I
would drive them from the airport in my
Volkswagen, where they could barely fit.
GLASER: I was a law clerk for a federal judge
right after law school and then I joined the
firm where Mariana Pfaelzer was a senior
partner. It just made a world of difference
[having] a very strong woman precede me.