March is Women’s History Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the outstanding accomplishments women have contributed to society throughout history and today.
First established in 1987, Women’s History Month praises the vital roles and sacrifices that women have made in American history. In the legal field currently, nearly 2 out of every 5 attorneys are female. As this number continues to grow, it is important to remember pioneers who have broken barriers to make this profession attainable for women everywhere.
Throughout history, women have endured sexism and prejudice, especially in professional environments. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve chosen to spotlight five female attorneys who have persevered to achieve notable success in the legal field and serve as an inspiration to people everywhere.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
From 1993 until her death in September 2020, Justice Ginsburg served on the Supreme Court and was the second woman to ever do so. She played a crucial part in many iconic cases, including United States v. Virginia that ruled in favor of gender equality at Virginia Military Institute and Obergefell v. Hodges that ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the United States.
Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1991 where she is hailed as “saving” Major League Baseball when her decision in Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee, Inc. ended the 1994 season-ending strike. Later on, she was selected and approved as the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in 2009 and has played pivotal roles in noteworthy cases such as the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states as well as the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Constance Baker Motley
Constance Baker Motley was the first African American woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, filing the original complaint in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. She was later elected to the New York State Senate, making her the first African American woman to sit in the State Senate. President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated her in 1966 for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Elena Kagan was the dean of Harvard Law School before being appointed as the first female Solicitor General of the United States by President Obama in 2009. When Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement one year later, she became the fourth woman to sit on the Supreme Court. She also played a critical role in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.
Before she became the first female Vice President of the United States, Harris worked as the District Attorney of San Francisco. In 2011, she became the first African American and first South Asian American Attorney General of California. During her tenure as Attorney General of California, she established the state’s first Bureau of Children’s Justice and won a $20 billion settlement for Californians whose homes had been foreclosed on.
Potter Burnett Law was founded by three distinguished attorneys, two of which are award-winning women leaders in the field. For Deborah Potter and Suzanne Burnett, their hard work and dedication are evident in every single case they take on. Recognized by top legal rating service SuperLawyers in 2021 as top attorneys in the state of Maryland, Deborah Potter and Suzanne Burnett continue to set the bar high.
While Women’s History Month may be commemorated for just one month, we still celebrate and champion all of the courageous and bold women in the world every single day. Potter Burnett Law is proud to highlight each of these trailblazers for paving the way for women in law.