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Judith L. Lichtman As President Obama recently nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the open post on the Supreme Court, we’re reminded of the inequalities of women in the legal profession as recently as only three decades ago. This week, we shine our spotlight on Judith L. Lichtman, one of the most influential voices in the American justice system - and one who knows those difficulties women face in the legal sector better than anyone.

It’s only been recently that Judith Lichtman stepped down as President of the National Partnership for Women and Families. Feeling ready for a new challenge, she accepted the position as a Senior Advisor with this incredible organization. She also remembers being only one of two female law students in her class and the difficulties she experienced because of that; not only from her fellow attorneys to be, but her professors as well. Her primary reason for choosing the legal profession was because ‘’...being a lawyer gave me a license for activism’’.

question, ‘’What constitutes rape?’’ She says the professor’s tone was ‘’stinging’’ and caused her to be quite uncomfortable as she answered the question. Calling the humiliation ‘’profound’’, it was also a driving force to her dedication. She moved to Washington D.C. and joined the Supreme Court Bar. Clearly, her dedication was deep and true.

With a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, Lichtman entered into the government sector and worked for awhile with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and also served as a legal advisor to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In the mid-1970s, Lichtman became the first paid staff person for the Women’s Legal Defense Fund and was soon the executive director.

Lichtman is recognized often by many organizations, business and labor leaders and of course, the political machines that drive our country. She has been a remarkable force in creating diversity and powerful coalitions and has won many accolades. President Clinton said Lichtman is ‘’a remarkable national treasure’’. She was named one of Washington DC’s most powerful women and received the Washingtonian of the Year award in 1986. The Women’s Bar Association named her Woman Lawyer of the Year in 1989 and in 2000, she received the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Hubert H. Humphrey Award for her works in civil rights.

Being invited to the White House to witness President Obama’s nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan was especially rewarding for her and allowed her to reflect on the difficulties she and Kagan experienced. Admitting the emotion of the ceremony, she recalls her 1962 graduation from law school was at a time when the Supreme Court was, and always had been, dominated by males. In fact, she says the legal profession as a whole was mostly comprised of her male counterparts. She recalls humiliation during law school and being called on once during its entirety to answer the

She has worked since to increase the number of female judges on federal benches - and she’s never looked back. Progress has certainly been made, but her goal now is to ensure the momentum is never lost and that women continue to choose law as their professions of choice.

She resides in Washington D.C. with her husband, has two daughters and three grandchildren. She remains the Senior Advisor for the National Partnership for Women and Families and you can be sure her work is not done as she continues forward in her good works.

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Judith L. Lichtman