Hail to the Chiefs & more women in charge


As I mentioned in an earlier posting, next month Judge Lynch will become the first Chief Judge of a U.S. Court of Appeals.  The NLJ did a nice write-up:


This article mentions, among other things, that she is the most-cited judge outside her circuit, citing a law review article studying that point.  If you look at that article, basically, the authors were identifying a methodology for choosing who should be on the U.S. Supreme Court, if the selection process took a more scientific approach.  For various reasons, they came up with this test.  From my own purely non-scientific experience, I can say that their conclusion was right:  this is about one of the best judges around.  The only unfortunate thing about any elevation to the Supremes would be that we would lose her as a First Circuit judge.

Aside from being very, very brainy, she has lots of other valuable traits.  For example, I think she’s the James Brown of the federal courts — the hardest working judge in the law business.  Her opinions are always thorough and thoughtful — in a court that really is overworked.  And she does lots of other things besides judging, for the community.  For example, she graciously participated in a conference in Boston for the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers when we asked, and frankly, the woman must never sleep.  And I know that she won’t let her new chiefing responsibilities slow her down, so if she ever did sleep before, that’s over now.  (Maybe we should get her a loaded Starbucks card to help out). 

For a part of the time that I clerked, my judge was the Chief Judge for his court (the Northern District of Illinois).  It was largely an administrative post, and if you want a tough job, try herding 20+ district court judges, all with life tenure.  Hopefully Judge Lynch will have an easier time, with a smaller group of appellate judges, and I wish her luck.

We in Maine are of course graced with another poster child for overachieving women, Chief Justice Saufley.  Not only does she have the same crushing workload judging (yet always seems prepared) and administering, but she has to do it no money.  And she also will participate on panels etc. — she was another welcome participant in that Boston conference — and she does it with incomparable good humor.

So let’s hear it for women in charge.  I muse upon all this after spending yesterday watching the class of 2008 graduate from Smith College.  If you’re a woman and want to feel good about the future, then just go to one of these commencement exercises at Smith, or Wellesley, or Mount Holyoke or the other handful of schools still dedicated to educating women.  They all look great, and much more together than I ever was at that age (or maybe after …).  I’m sure we’ve got some future Chief Lynches and Saufleys in the pipestream from just the 700 Smith women I saw yesterday.

When you read those depressingly regular statistical reports of women hitting glass ceilings, or how few women partners in large firms there are, etc., etc. & you want to feel better, go to one of these commencements, or think about how lucky we are here with our exceptional chiefs.  It’s like that old adage:  Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astaire did — only backwards and in high heels.