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Women Lining Up For U.S. Attorney Post

Publication Date: 
July 31, 2009
Daily Journal
Rebecca Beyer

Professor Emerita Barbara Babcock, who was the first director of the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia, talked to the Daily Journal about women in the legal profession:

The search for a new U.S. attorney in the Northern District of California is heating up, and so is speculation that a woman will be chosen as the next top federal prosecutor in San Francisco.

A California group dedicated to the advancement of women in the legal profession is pushing hard for that outcome, and close to half the attorneys who are said to have applied for the job are female. The group, California Women Lawyers, wrote to Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein earlier this summer urging the appointment of women U.S. attorneys and judges in each of California's four districts.


Adams' appointment, which came two years before women won the national right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment, was "far ahead of the time," said Barbara Babcock, a professor emerita at Stanford Law School. Babcock created the Women's Legal History Biography Project in the mid-1990s and has studied early woman lawyers extensively.

But after more than 90 years without a woman U.S. attorney, Babcock said the appointment of a woman in the Northern District in 2009 would be just as big of a deal.


"The day will come - and we're not there yet, we're a long way from it - when it won't even be a subject of comment," said Babcock, the Stanford professor who made history herself when she became Stanford Law's first female regular faculty member in the 1970s. "That's the day we're looking for."