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Remarks by Justice Joette Katz at the James W. Cooper Fellows Portrait Exhibit Honoring the Women of the Bench

It is such a pleasure for me to be here this evening as the senior female member of the bench. I am also very happy that that status will change in the very near future when Judge Rogers is sworn in as the new Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Please join me in welcoming her.
 

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Biography of Justice Joette Katz

Supreme Court

We are among giants today. And quite frankly, I feel as though I have stood on their shoulders. Many of the women whose photos hang in this exhibit paved the way for others like me to ascend with relative ease. Thank you.

When I first became a public defender doing appellate work, it was inspirational for me to see then Associate Justice Peters sitting on the state's highest court. The appointment in 1978 of Justice Peters, who was a tenured law professor at Yale Law school at the time, was a stroke of genius by then Governor Grasso, but as the timeline demonstrates, Governor Grasso had very few women judges to chose from. Although she never claimed to be, Justice Peters was indeed a role model to a generation of women lawyers, as were Judge Billie Dupont and Judge Ellen Burns. Quite frankly, these trailblazers made us believe that we could have it all-- careers, families, outside interests, in short, fulfilling and multi dimensional lives. As these women worked, initially behind the scenes and later front and center, through various committees to eliminate discrimination and enhance the role of women at the bar, they also taught us about the need to nurture the next generation of women lawyers. Today, as the ranks continue to swell, the more junior members of the bench have taken the baton to find new ways to inspire future generations and thereby enrich the profession.

The number of women entering the legal profession in itself has increased the profession's diversity, but we need to increase diversity in other ways as well, and I emphasize issues of color and sexual orientation. Although women attorneys entering the profession today do not face the same challenges and barriers as the generations before them, there remain other equality concerns. We need to bring all of us along, not just some of us. Like the work-life balance issues, these diversity issues affect all lawyers, not just the women. But tonight is about recognizing how far we have come and to thank all of you, your perseverance, contributions, and generosity in inspiring countless women to enter this noble profession and to thank the Bar Foundation for its vision in providing us with this exhibition.

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