On this historic election day when our country will hopefully elect its first woman president, I am filled with hope and excitement. I took my daughter with me to the poll this morning so she could one day tell her daughter that she was there to witness this moment in history. When I told her that, 100 years ago, women still did not have a right to vote, let alone have a chance of becoming President, there was a look of bewilderment on her face as she processed such a foreign concept from a not-so-very distant time in our history. Already this historic presidential race has inspired my daughter to one day want to be president too. But it’s not just our daughters that are affected by this race; after the ballots are counted, all women everywhere will be living in a new world, forever changed.
I have never intended for this blog to be political and I don’t intend to start now. However, regardless of your party affiliation or political beliefs, the significance of this moment for all women and women criminal defense attorneys cannot be overstated. This isn’t just another break in the glass ceiling – Air Force One is crashing straight through it as a woman will take over the most powerful job in the world.
That doesn’t mean we still don’t have work to do. We still have enormous pay inequity in law. We still have women leaving the practice of law in much larger percentages than their male counterparts. Women are still seriously underrepresented as equity partners in law firms. We still have men outpacing women as being named lead counsel in larger, more lucrative complex litigation matters, and this is especially true in larger white collar matters. Yet, I can’t help but feel like we women criminal defense attorneys can breathe a little easier when we survey our remaining issues after witnessing the shattering of the glass ceiling this election cycle. And that new breath might give life to a renewed energy to work through the problems that remain.
During the last two months I have struggled with finding the time to blog, falling short of the promise I made to myself that I would “never” miss a week. I’m not sure if this is a testament to the Anne-Marie Slaughter line of thinking that women can’t have it all, or is simply symptomatic of the time pressures many lawyers face, regardless of gender. In spite of this lapse, my commitment to highlight and support of women in this field remains unwavering. I continue to make efforts to get to know other women in the field and organize more formal opportunities for more and more of us to connect and help one another. Thankfully that hasn’t stopped, even as the blogging has been less consistent. And it was during a recent dinner that I shared with some amazing women defenders that I realized I needed to recommit myself to telling our stories through this blog.
There is still a need to highlight and promote the great work that women are doing in the field, although I admit I struggle with finding cases in the media identifying women criminal lawyers. So I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to fill that void. I need to hear about your cases or about cases other women defenders are handling. We need to work as hard in assuring our own success in this field as we have in placing a woman in the White House. The kind of success that is not just about earning a seat at the table; it’s about sitting at the head of the table and deciding who sits there with us. Much like the distinction between being Secretary of State and the President of the United States. I look forward to these next four years and beyond and to hearing your stories from the front lines of criminal defense.