: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Louise B. Raggio, Texas Trailblazer

As noted on the Texas Bar blog, KERA public radio in DFW has put together a series called Texas Trailblazer, featuring two noted Texas lawyers – Judge Barefoot Sanders and Louise B. Raggio. Raggio’s segment is available below:

In the 1950s, married women in most states needed their husband’s permission for legal and business transactions. They couldn’t open their own bank accounts, sign contracts or control their own paychecks. Texas Trailblazer Louise Raggio tells the story of the Texas attorney who changed all that. Raggio went to law school to support her family after her husband returned from WWII emotionally shattered. She made history by leading the effort to draft and secure passage of the Marital Property Act of 1967 and became an icon in the struggle for women’s rights.

My favorite story from the interview:

Then in 1954 she got a call from then Dallas Court district judge Sarah Hughes. “Go down to see Henry Wade. He may have an opening. So I got myself fixed up and went down. He hired me. He told me a year later that he only reason he hired me is he figured I would fall flat on my face and he wouldn’t have to listen to Sarah Hughes any more. He didn’t realize that a woman could do the job.” A year later she was assigned to county criminal court. Her appointment made headlines as the first woman prosecutor in Dallas County.

Interestingly, both Louise Raggio and Sarah Hughes took their law degrees in evening programs, Hughes while working as a police officer.

Glimpse of USNWR Part-Time Program Rankings

Partially previewed here. D.C. anyone?

1. Georgetown (D.C.)
2. George Washington (D.C.)
3. Fordham (N.Y.)
4. American (D.C.)
5. George Mason (Vir.)

Video below:
Read the rest of this entry »

Legal Heroes: John Marshall Harlan


The Boston Globe’s Peter S. Canellos has a laudatory piece on the Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan the elder (his son also sat on the Supreme Court) in In 1800s, a rights icon on the bench. The elder Harlan is a hero to me as well, for most of the reasons Canellos cites but also for holding a special place in my heart as an evening student. As I’ve posted previously, for over 20 years Justice Harlan would leave his post at the Supreme Court around 7pm and walk over with another Justice to Columbian University in Washington, D.C. where he taught constitutional Law, domestic relations, commercial law, evidence, torts, and property to the assembled group of law students, most of whom worked as government clerks during the day.

My sense is that the same egalitarian spirit that prompted his famous Plessy dissent, bestowed in Harlan the instinct that there should be no barrier to a legal education for those who possessed the requisite desire, fortitude and potential and that a Supreme Court Justice’s evening was not poorly spent in helping to make that possible.

U.S. News Plans Part-Time Law Program Rankings for April

Robert Morse reports on the new features of the 2009 U.S. News Law School rankings, Finishing Up the New Grad School Rankings

We also plan to publish our first-ever ranking of part-time J.D. law programs. This new ranking will evaluate the approximately 87 American Bar Association fully accredited law schools that offer a part-time law program. U.S. News has defined a part-time J.D. program as a law school that has a separate admission process for part-time law students and specific part-time J.D. program curriculum offerings.

Lessons from an Accidental Jurist: Judith Kaye

Judith Kaye, Chief Judge of New York, is stepping down after reaching teh mandatory retirement age. In an interview with the WSJ Law Blog, Trees and the Law: Judge Kaye’s Last Legal Issue, she made an all-too-familiar point about her path to the law (emphasis mine):

It’s a clichéd question. But did you always want to be a lawyer?

No, no. I was the editor of my high school paper and then of my college paper, the Barnard Bulletin. In college I appeared with Bernie Nussbaum, the editor of the Columbia Spectator, on a Mike Wallace show about academic freedom. [Nussbaum, a former White House Counsel under President Clinton, is now a partner at Wachtell Lipton. He represents Judge Kaye in her judicial pay lawsuit.] So after college I wanted to be a journalist.

I worked for the Hudson Dispatch of Union City, New Jersey. In 1958 that was the only place I could find work as a woman. But it was so dismal to be reporting weddings, church socials and women’s club meetings. So I started going to law school at night, thinking that it could advance my journalism career – that I could acquire a credential that would enable me to get off the social page and onto the news side of journalism.

But, after the first exam period, I had done really well and thought I could be a lawyer. A large part of my success in law school was my ability to write a simple sentence. And to know what’s important, to know what should go first and what should go last. I attribute those skills to my journalism career.

Judge Kaye is widely admired for her tenure on the New York bench; Bryan Garner reportedly lists her among 18 legal writers who are worth emulating in a forthcoming book. Was her path to law school and to the bench inevitable? I doubt it. Judge Kaye’s career path exhibits an under-appreciated aspect of evening or part-time legal education – it gives those with other opportunities and abilities a chance to explore the law without the opportunity costs. I wonder how many other ‘accidental’ judges and lawyers began their careers this way?

It’s worth noting that Judge Kaye graduated from NYU School of Law at a time when they still had an evening program. It was discontinued later in the 60′s, a victim of a now century-old fight in legal education of which NYU was an early leader. At the turn of the century, then Dean Clarence Ashley, who founded Metropolitan, an evening-only law school subsequently merged with NYU, and championed expanded access to legal education through the admission of women and African Americans, would fight the exclusion of schools with evening programs from the Association of American Law Schools. FIGHTS EXCLUSION OF EVENING SCHOOLS; Dean of New York University’s Law Department Calls Association’s Action Unjust. Had Judge Kaye thought about law school just a few years later, after NYU had already ended their evening program, would things have turned out differently?

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