Learning How Far We Women Lawyers and Judges Have Come, What Can Propel Us Forward, and Where We May Go. Celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day at the 17th Judicial Circuit, Florida- “Broward’s Women Leaders, A Celebration of Women in the Legal Community”

Women’s History Month, since 1987, is celebrated the entire month of March each year, a celebration of the contributions of strong women from the past and present, and of women’s contributions to history, culture and society.  International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year, a focal point in the movement for women’s progress around the world.

At the program I attended, “Broward’s Women Leaders, A Celebration of Women in the Legal Community,” Friday, March 31, 2023, the speakers panel of women lawyers and judges spanned the several generations of successful women lawyer and judge pioneers to accomplished young women lawyers in their 30s and 40s.  This brilliant choice was expertly moderated by Rae Chorowski, Esq. and Judge Michele Tobin Singer to highlight the importance of mentorship as the key to the future success of women lawyers.  Mentorship that accelerates learning, skill development, and also advancement is important in the legal profession, as in others.  Acknowledgment was given that male lawyer and judge mentors were instrumental and still are and now there is a cadre of seasoned successful women lawyers and judges that can to mentor junior and new women lawyers. 

The numbers of women in the legal profession and in law schools is at its highest. Today, approximately 51.5% of lawyers are women and approximately 48.5% of lawyers are men.  See how this has increased over time at the American Bar Association website on profile of Women in the Legal Profession 1951-2022. 

However, the number of women in top positions in the law continues to be small. “In the United States, women were 47% of associates at law firms, but only 12% of managing partners in 2020.”


It is always wonderful to learn new things, and I learned a phrase, “the imposter syndrome,” which seems to involve more women than men in leadership positions.  It is a psychological condition which involves unfounded feelings of self-doubt and incompetence, that one doubts his or her success and accomplishments and has a constant, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. I love this article about how to overcome this syndrome, “The Imposter Syndrome: Remedying Female Attorneys’ Self-Doubt in the Legal Profession,” By Cara Mannion, Vanderbilt Law School Class of 2020.

Significant to this retired circuit judge and previous woman lawyer was that focus on success and the need to work harder for skill and success than men is the same throughout the generations of women lawyers, but the young women lawyers now seem more openly proud of the unique skills that a women brings to the practice of law. The young women lawyers were confident of their success and not afraid to show their confidence and shine in the forefront of the legal profession. 

Right after attending this program, I read an article about Barbara Walters by Irin Carmon, in New York Magazine, March 13 – 26, 2023, which included a quote that I repeated to young women professionals for years:

“You Can Have it All, Just Not at the Same Time”

At the Broward program, a newer phrase quoted from another Broward judge who also taught at the local law school:

“As a female lawyer, you have to juggle balls. Some are glass and some are rubber.  The skill is knowing when the practice is glass and home life is rubber and when the practice is rubber and home life is glass.”

So, what does this mean to me, who could be considered a pioneer?  Early pioneer women lawyers, such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, could not get a first job as a lawyer.  Today, women lawyers can get a legal position, but has much changed in advancement in the legal profession? 

Some of the women speakers at the Broward program who were partners in law firms brought up the difference in how they were perceived by other partners when they became mothers.  It seemed that it was perceived that childbirth affected their brains as well as their work ethic.  So, I wonder now. It may have been harder for women pioneer lawyers to get the foot in the door, whereas now it seems harder if you are also a mother to be perceived as committed to the practice of law.  Are the consequences different?

I like many of the quotes attributed to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. See, previous blog post, “Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg and This Florida Judge’s Immigrant Life Following Her A Decade Later. Parallels Demonstrate Six Keys To Success For Grandchildren and How To Honor Her Legacy”

Especially her advice for everyone:

“Work for what you believe in, but pick your battles, and don’t burn your bridges. Don’t be afraid to take charge, think about what you want, then do the work, but then enjoy what makes you happy, bring along your crew, have a sense of humor.”

“Bring along your crew,” was definitely a theme of the Broward County Women Lawyers program.  We women lawyers and judges were and are skilled, work hard, and are primed for success.  I always say, it is important in the legal profession to get three mentors, not one, as to not overburden a mentor with the learning process and to expand the number of mentors that can accelerate learning, skill development, and also advancement. As we women attain greater numbers in leadership, we women who know what other women do and have to do to succeed in the legal profession, can make a difference so there can be a greater difference in the success of women lawyers.

I also love this quote by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

“When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

An admirable goal.



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