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A WOMAN'S PLACE IS ON THE BENCH
BY JENNIFER BALDINO BONETT
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By the time Deborah Poritz entered Penn Law in 1974, there were nearly 40 women in her class. Poritz was part of a new wave of law student older adults seeking a second career in the law. She had been married for more than 16 years and had two children ages 10 and 12 when she began studying at Penn Law. "I had fewer choices when I started out," says Poritz, who at the urging of her mother initially taught high school and college- level English, traditionally family-friendly pursuits. "My orientation was not that my career would be important, or that it would matter in the way it came to matter later."

Poritz learned about the law from family members in the profession. "Going back to school meant a lot to me," she says. "I was really excited about the opportunities Penn offered." At the same time, she remained committed to her family, then living in Princeton. "I commuted from Princeton to Philadelphia and cried silent tears at the train station after the first day of classes because my husband, with two fighting boys in the back of our station wagon, arrived late."

When Poritz began her career as a deputy attorney general in the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety in 1977, she felt ready. "I was comfortable and confident that I had been Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritzprepared to deal with even subject matters that I had not studied in law school," she says, "and for that I owe a great deal to Penn."

 
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