Nancy Gertner on being a woman, an advocate and a judge

CROP -- CAF symp II 3-4-16

From left, Professor Margaret Johnson, Judge Nancy Gertner, Dean Ronald Weich and Venable Professor of Law Michele Gilman. Johnson and Gilman are the co-directors of the Center on Applied Feminism.

Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge now on the faculty at Harvard Law School, gave the keynote address for UB’s Center on Applied Feminism’s ninth annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference, held March 4 at the Angelos Law Center.

Gertner, the author of In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate, stressed the importance of having women on the bench and in “all centers of power.”

She repeated the phrase: “all centers of power.”

“My judging was different,” Gertner said. “I was different.”

Saying she’d been a “zealous advocate” as an attorney, Gertner said that as a judge she never forgot what she believed in, which created a “perennial tension” during her 17 years on the bench.

Gertner served in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts from 1994 to 2011.

On ascending to the bench, Gertner said, she asked herself, “How could I be me in this job and be true to its ethos?”

She answered her question: “I would create a humane courtroom.”

“I determined to be attentive to not just the well-heeled,” she said. “I cared desperately about access to justice.”

Gertner said she also determined to write opinions when a plaintiff won: “I wanted to see them in the precedent.”

Click here to read a story about Gertner’s speech in The Daily Record. (You will need a subscription to read the full article.)

Learn more about the Center on Applied Feminism.

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