Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Yesterday evening, I went to the Suffolk National Women Law Students' Association Inaugural Alumnae Networking Reception. That's a mouthful! But it was a terrific event. Suffolk actually has quite a few well-placed women graduates, many in the area still, as judges, and a surprising number as partners in firms or working in government agencies. There was a very good turn-out, both of current students, and alums coming for the event. All the deans came, as well as all the clinical women faculty, and most of the women on the doctrinal faculty. A few of the writing faculty came as well. It was a pretty wonderful evening, with an excellent speech by alumna, long-time adjunct and judge Bonnie MacLeod-Mancuso, J.D. 1972. She recalled being one of 12 women in a class of 254. While the numbers have changed so much (now most classes are nearly 50/50 male/female), other things still require a great deal more work -- access to power and equal salaries notably.

This was actually the first alumni event I have been to where I have been approached by former students. I suppose this isn't surprising. Both at St. Louis University and here at Suffolk, I have always taught very small classes. But what a pleasure to see former students and hear how they are doing! It was also nice to talk to new students and alumnae and talk up the library services available to both groups.

Most excitingly, one former student, Rebecca Woodworth Brodie, went out of her way to say how helpful the class had been in showing her the ropes of finding less expensive alternatives for research. She has actually founded a very cool firm. They have a sliding fee scale mediation/litigation practice -- which is really booming as the economy tanks. She had been interested in legal aid practice, and actually has relationships with two area legal services to pick up pro bono cases. But the heart of her practice area is the big swath of population whose income lies between the less-than-poverty-level required for legal services coverage, and the really well-heeled level needed for most traditional law offices. Find her offices at, to read more about her "social law firm." Besides doing well by doing good for their clients, the firm also does good things for the attorneys who work there. They offer a very flexible workplace, based only on the hours the attorney is willing/able to work and that defines the pay. Very impressive! If this isn't the answer to "what comes after the billable hour?", I can't imagine what is! They also offer a mentoring program for new attorneys who just passed the bar, but don't have a job yet. It's a very cool firm. Yay, Rebecca!


Betsy McKenzie said...

Interestingly enough, I just heard from another former student today, through Facebook! Isn't it funny how the world works?

Rebecca Woodworth Brodie said...

The advice to "Google oneself” is smart, even if it sounds a bit inappropriate! This time, I found this blog posting which talked about me… THANKS FOR THE PRAISE.
I loved the Suffolk Alumnae Event (Can we do it again next week?)

Rebecca Woodworth Brodie