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A WOMAN'S PLACE IS ON THE BENCH
BY JENNIFER BALDINO BONETT
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As Poritz embarked on her new profession, women were making their way into the upper echelons of the legal community. But she was still the pathbreaker in many of her positions — the first woman chief counsel to a New Jersey governor; the first woman attorney general in New Jersey; and, most notably, the first woman chief justice on New Jersey’s well-regarded Supreme Court. "There’s a sense that whatever your work ethic is, whatever goals you set for yourself, you have to remember that you’re being watched closely because you’re the first," Poritz says.

Role models like Deborah Poritz demonstrate to aspiring female attorneys and jurists that their goals are attainable, even in non-traditional ways. "It’s possible to start later, and it’s possible to go back, even if you decide to take some time off," says Poritz. "When they’re on a partnership track, young women think, " 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," said Poritz. ‘How will I ever get back to this if I leave to have children?’ I believe it’s quite possible, but, again, the choices are difficult."

Yvonne Mokgoro knows about difficult choices. Mokgoro came to the United States from South Africa, where the study of law and the place of women in the legal profession was largely off-limits even in the late 20th century.

Mokgoro lived in South Africa under apartheid. She was among the millions of black South Africans hoping and preparing for the end of apartheid. As the foundation of apartheid began to shake, Mokgoro came to Penn Law on a scholarship from the Educational Opportunities Council for South Africans of historically disadvantaged backgrounds. She was enticed by Penn Law’s "wide array" of courses. in law in different contexts.

 
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