I plead guilty. I was asleep at the switch and missed the observation of Law Day on May 1st. Let’s call it a symptom of brain warp after weeks of isolation!
Law Day is held on May 1st every year to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day as a day of national dedication to the principles of government under law, and, in 1961, Congress designated May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day. The commemoration continues today and has expanded to many countries around the globe.
If you are not familiar with Law Day, I want you to be. Law Day is important for many reasons — to stress the importance of the rule of law, to promote respect for the law profession, and to recognize the role that the legal profession has played in the history of our country, to name just a few. Some riffs on the general theme have followed, and one of them has very special significance for me.
At the Women in Law Day observation in March 2010, I delivered my first address on the subject of women lawyers and the importance to law firms of retaining and advancing females in the profession. That speech was delivered at Roger Williams University School of Law, and it followed on the heels of my first book, What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2009). It served as the launching point for a decade of writing, consulting and speaking on subjects related to both young women lawyers and all young lawyers, as the Best Friends at the Bar project was expanded.
My recollections from that experience are still very vivid and very meaningful. The Women in Law Day speaker the year prior had been Sarah Weddington, who argued on behalf of Jane Roe at the US Supreme Court in 1973 in the landmark case Roe v. Wade. I felt humble and grateful to be following her as a keynote speaker.
I also was very impressed with the high quality program that law school administration had planned and executed for observance of Women in Law Day as well as the introduction of me and my remarks by the Dean of the Law School. Dean David Logan not only introduced me, but he stayed for the entire program, including the Q and A. That kind of respect for and dedication to law students and legal education is exemplary, and it still stands out in my experience more than a decade later.
Since my participation in that first Women in Law Day, I have had the pleasure of speaking at prestigious law schools, law firms and law organizations throughout the country. The most important settings are the ones where organizers and attendees are interested, attentive, engaged and ask probing questions. That is when I understand the true significance of my past: Once a teacher, always a teacher.
This year, I did not participate in a Law Day or a Women in Law Day program. COVID-19 does not respect law and order. But I look forward to jumping back into those celebrations in 2021. If you are looking for a speaker to celebrate with you then, contact me. I would love to be a part of your program.
However it is not too late for you to celebrate being a part of a profession that should make us all proud. You can Zoom with your law school and lawyer friends and raise a glass of bubbly — from the comfort of your home, of course. Stay safe. Stay well. Stay home.
Help defeat this menace so that we can come back stronger in 2021 — to celebrate Law Day, Women in Law Day, and many other accomplishments in the law.