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Hickey: Meet Belva Lockwood

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IBA-Hickey-ChristineNo, Belva is not a current IBA member. In fact, she was never an IBA member; however, I was just “introduced” to her and thought the timing remarkable given that I had already decided to write this President’s Message on celebrating Mother’s Day. This holiday will have passed as you read this, and my hope is that you enjoyed a day to appreciate your own mother as I will have mine. The focus of this article is all of the women lawyers who balance the tremendously difficult task of being a great mom and a great lawyer.

Inspiration. Perseverance. Belva Lockwood was a twenty-three year old widow with a three year old daughter in 1853. To provide for her daughter, Belva sought a higher education and persuaded what is now Syracuse University to admit her as a student. Interested in the law at a college with no law department, Belva took private classes from a local law professor. As a single mother of a 16-year-old daughter, Belva moved to Washington D.C. in 1866. After being refused admittance to the Columbian Law School where trustees feared she would be a distraction to male students, she was eventually admitted to what is now George Washington University School of Law. By this time, Belva had remarried, given birth to another daughter, and had buried that daughter before her second birthday. Belva completed her coursework in 1873; however, the law school refused to grant a diploma to a woman. After appealing to the President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, Belva Lockwood received her diploma and was admitted to the DC Bar at the age of 43.

Lockwood went on to become the first woman admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the first woman lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. A little known fact: Belva Ann Lockwood was the first female presidential candidate to appear on a ballot. She ran first in 1884 and again in 1888 against Indiana’s very own Benjamin Harrison. Lockwood has been credited with helping to open the legal profession to women.

Balance. Along with many other of my peers, predecessors, and successors, I am blessed with the joy of both motherhood and a legal career. I have two remarkable children, Chase and Taylor, who remind me daily of the delicate balance between squeezing in client calls, discovery deadlines, track meets, school events and, oh yes, dinner. Many of our members have been law student, young associate, and law partner as a mother-lawyer. Many of our members will face the difficult task of searching for childcare as a pregnant lawyer, showing up with baby food on their suit, and trying to stave off a child’s temperature while facing a court hearing at 9:00 that morning. The conflict of family and professional life has not been lost on legal scholars, including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who has observed the struggle of balance for women professionals caring for children.

Work-life balance is a struggle for male and female attorneys alike. It is not reserved specifically for women; the intent of this article is not to suggest otherwise. Finding ways to enhance and enrich your personal life and legal career without “giving anything up” is not always easy but it can be done. The IBA recognizes how critical a balanced life is to enjoyment in the profession, and for this reason you will begin to see regular features in our pages on this issue. Our hope is to help tip the work-life balance in your favor.

Success. From Belva Lockwood to the modern-day mom with a law degree, lap top, and a nanny-cam, being a successful attorney and devoted mother is difficult but doable. I dedicate this column to the many attorney-mothers who find a way to make it work every day.
 

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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