Category Archives: Politics

Lawyers as “Political Wives”

Canada’s National Post has an article about political wives in the US and Canada. The author leads with the topical nod to Silda Wall Spitzer, the wife of NY governor Eliot Spitzer, then comments on other famous political wives such as Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, etc. 

Silda, Hilary and Michelle are all lawyers. I wonder if it is difficult for them to stand to the side while their husbands talk politics and policy. I know I couldn’t handle it. I know that when someone asks for my husband for his political opinions, I’m always trying to jump in too (sorry, honey!)  I suppose it’s like waiting for opposing counsel to finish an argument in court, except for these ladies, it’s rarely their turn.  And when it is their turn to speak, surely they have to pass their opinions through a filter to make sure they don’t contradict their husband’s words on the same issue.  It’s almost like their spouse is their client and they can only ever express their client’s opinions in public. 

In any case, that is all speculation.  Who says that these ladies even want to comment or have political opinions (well, of course, I’m sure Hillary does)? They all have kids and work too.  Chances are that if they are standing next to their husband being ignored by the reporters, they are thinking to themselves ‘I have to remember to schedule a dental appointment for kid X for monday…’ or ‘oh, I should check whether the state laws permit a non-profit to X’.  We all know that women are multi-taskers!

What Happens When A Famous Mommy Lawyer Becomes A First Lady?

Hillary Clinton made the transition.  And now, perhaps Michelle Obama will.

The Globe and Mail has an interesting article about Michelle Obama and at the end of the article, brief bios of the accomplishments of previous First Ladies.

I wonder what the typical American expects of a First mate. Do they want someone who is a vocal equal, willing to take advantage of their position as a figurehead of America? Do they want someone who is quiet in the shadows of the President, the silent wind beneath the President’s wing?  What happens if the public wants one but gets the other?

If Barak wins, how will Michelle handle her role? I wonder if Hillary would be willing to give her advice on that…

W.I.L.D. Woman: Anita Alvarez

inspirationalsmall.jpg As a minority and a women, I am always happy when the legal community makes strides towards looking more like the client base it represents.   Anita Alvarez would be the first woman and the first Hispanic to lead the state’s attorney’s office if elected over Republican Tony Peraica in the November general election.  I’m not saying that people should vote for her because of gender alone, but seeing as there is such a large Hispanic population in Cook County, her rise in politics is news.

Her win in the Cook County Democratic primary for state’s attorney on Tuesday is a real feel-good story in that by winning, she is shaking up the system and people’s perspective of justice.  As this Tribune article states:

“The good ol’ boy mentality still exists,” she said. “We need to create a better atmosphere of inclusion, and I think I’m the person to do that because I see it and I recognize it.”

As an assistant state’s attorney who often brought cases against Hispanic suspects, Alvarez said she frequently heard complaints that she had sold out her race.

“To be called a sellout is wrong because who am I speaking in court for? The victim who happens to be Hispanic as well,” she said.

Criminal courts are careful about the rights of the accused and rightly so.  Prosecutors also know that they technically represent the People, not the victims of crime, but I know what Alvarez is getting at.

Hillary Clinton at Yale

The Kansas City star has an article about Hillary Clinton’s years at Yale Law School and how it shaped her career afterwards.  Since she met Bill there, I wonder if they ever studied together.  I wonder if they made their own outlines and flashcards.  I wonder if they ever played “Strip Flashcards” –as in you have to take off an article of clothing every time you miss an answer to question.

Hahaha 🙂

Have you ever cried at work?

In this article, women weigh in on Hillary Clinton’s “moment” before the New Hampshire primary.  The women that the author of the article interviewed were sympathetic to the uncharacteristic showing of vulnerability that the candidate expressed and which commentators have said may have gained her some votes.

Some of the women in the article quoted are partners at law firms.  I must say that in the highly charged environment that law firms are generally, it’s not uncommon to see tears. At my current small(er) firm, I am surprised to say that I haven’t seen any (yet).  At my old job, I remember that I’ve shed a few tears of frustration in my office, other female associates and secretaries have cried in my office, I’ve comforted other crying women in their office, in the bathroom, etc.  

Is it a sign of weakness? Or a good sign that we invest so much, emotionally speaking, in our jobs and the people we work with?

Julia Gillard: First female deputy prime minister for Australia

Julia Gillard is a former lawyer who is going to be the deputy prime minister for Australia this week.  Since PM Kevin Rudd is going to the climate change talks, she gets the top spot for about 60 hours.  It’s news according to the Herald Sun and other publications because she’ll be the first female acting PM in Australia’s history.

Every female politician has her horror stories about life in politics, but I can’t believe some of the stuff that she has had to put up with:

“The infamous photo of her in her spotless kitchen nearly three years ago incited cruel criticism, with some claiming a childless, single woman with an empty fruit bowl could not possibly become Australia’s first female prime minister.

Yesterday Ms Gillard would not comment on NSW Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan’s slur that she was “deliberately barren”, but said she was proud of what she had accomplished.”

Deliberately barren!?!  This is exactly why women don’t go into politics.  Critics are downright nasty and rude about the tough choices women make about family and careers and no choice is safe against unfair attacks.

Update: Asma Jahangir released

I previously wrote about Asma Jahangir’s house arrest here.  According to yesterday’s Toronto Star article on some of her political views, she has been freed!

How long though before rule of law comes back?

Lawyers protesting

In solidarity with the lawyers in Pakistan, a lot of lawyers gathered in NYC today.  I wish they had done something like this in Toronto. I would have gone!

Look at the photos; it makes me happy to see all sorts of men and women in the crowd.

Judiciary or legislature?

I’ll admit that I’ve thought about it.  If I had a choice, would I go into the judiciary or the legislature?  According to this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article, women are finding it easier to go one route over the other.  One political scientist commented:

Lawyers think about running for judge. But we have to encourage men and women to think about running for the Legislature

Personally, I would hate the “politics” with being in the legislature. I’m sure there are politics with being a judge too, but I would think there is a lot of discretion as well.  Being in the legislature on the other hand, you’re at the mercy of so many political forces… I don’t think I could handle it.

In Canada, we have made strides in getting female judges but in the legislature, it’s a different story.

Brave Lawyers of Pakistan: Asma Jahangir and colleagues

By now I’m sure everyone’s heard about the lawyers in Pakistan who first demonstrated peacefully and now are defending themselves from attacks.  [If you want a good background of the events to date, read this article: “Lawyers against the general.”] The photographs I have seen in the past few days show many lawyers and political and human rights activists protesting against General Musharraf. Many of whom, on any other day, would be arguing with each other over the usual legal and political mumblejumble, but on this issue, they have found a common cause.
Judges and lawyers have been placed under house arrest and the courts are closed.  Asma Jahangir is among those under house arrest.  She earned her law degree in 1978 and was featured as an Asian Hero by Time Magazine in 2003.  She is currently the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

Imagine that, putting a world famous human rights lawyer under house arrest?!?  What is it that the General doesn’t want her to see or say? The more this dictator tries to suppress the protesters’ message, the more important it becomes for Pakistan and the rest of the world to voice the suppressed words of the arrested protesters.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all the judges, lawyers and activists.  We all pray for their safety and freedom.