In Defense of Women: Panel Discussion and Book Reviews

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Panel Discussion

Coinciding with the publication of Judge Nancy Gertner's new book, In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate, the Journal of Law & Gender is joining with the Harvard Law School Library, the Harvard Women's Law Association, and the Harvard American Constitution Society to sponsor a panel discussion on women in the law.

Panel members will include Judge Gertner, Dean Martha Minow, Professor Carol Steiker, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and NPR's Robin Young.

Join us Tuesday, February 21, at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall West 111. Refreshments will be served.

Book Reviews

Journal members Amy Chmielewski, Elizabeth Jensen, and Laura Wolf offer reviews of Judge Gertner's new book.

Excerpt from Amy Chmielewski's review:

But reading Judge Gertner’s memoirs may prompt readers to ask another question in response: what is lost when judges’ voices are confined to the courtroom—when the legal profession abides by the fiction that judges, once appointed, can and should easily efface their past experiences, their personalities, preferences, and politics?  Surely we are more honest when we acknowledge that judges come to the bench not as blank slates, but as palimpsests.  Surely the profession is made richer by accounts like Judge Gertner’s that force us to face the complexities of human nature that law and legal ethics sometimes instruct us to ignore.

Click here to read the full review. 

Excerpt from Elizabeth Jensen's review:

Much of Gertner’s professional life was spent, as suggested by her book’s title, defending women: sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, malpractice, battered women, abortion, lesbian women seeking custody of children. The book tells the stories of Gertner’s life and her cases, recalling the legal choices as well as the personal decisions behind them, both client decisions and decisions she made about her own professional and moral compass.

Click here to read the full review.

Excerpt from Laura Wolf's review:

Irony of ironies, one of the reasons Gertner is so successful is because no one gave her a break.  The media ignored her, judges chided her, and yet she persisted.  Being a woman—excluded from the “boy’s club”—and a young attorney gave her no choice but to be innovative.  In the Saxe case, to undermine witness testimony identifying a purple dress allegedly belonging to the defendant, Gertner asked a number of women in the courtroom to wear various shades of purple.This had the best effect imaginable: the witness picked out a dress in court that failed to match the shade of the dress found by the police.

Click here to read the full review.

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