Judge Betty Fletcher, RIP

Stepping back from State Bar defense for a moment, I want to post here about Judge Betty Fletcher, who passed away last week.  Her obituary in the Seattle Times can be read here.

I just wanted to take a moment to honor a pioneering woman in the legal profession, and in a law firm that eventually merged with one of my alma mater firms.  In New York I was a litigation associate with what was called Kirkpatrick & Lockhart when I joined.  When I left it was K&L Nicholson Graham, and today it is K&L Gates.  When Judge Fletcher graduated from law school and entered the world of law firms, she joined (and later became partner at) the Pacific Northwest firm Preston Gates & Ellis, now K&L Gates.  She was a Federal judge long before I was in Kindergarten, but I feel a sense of connection through our mutual affiliation with the firm.

I became aware of Judge Fletcher when I was in law school, because her son was one of my professors and was named to the bench during my time at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).

The recent Presidential debate when Mitt Romney discussed seeking out women for high-ranking positions prompted me to think a bit more than I usually do about the subject.  Personally I always feel that merit is far more important than immutable traits like gender and race, but nevertheless it is inspiring to be reminded of women who were trailblazers in our profession.  Judge Fletcher certainly was one by my definition, and I offer my sincerest condolences to her family.

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