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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Fall 2014

President’s Message Of course, even those of us who began practicing in the 1970s or 1980s have trouble appreciating the nature of the legal community that Nina Miglionico entered in the middle of the 20th century. Miss Nina, who received a Margaret Brent Women of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association in 1996, truly was a pioneer. The trail she blazed was nicely described by David Vann, a former mayor of Birmingham, in a letter that he wrote to the ABA supporting Ms. Miglionico’s nomination for her 1996 award: “In the 1950s, the Birmingham Bar was virtually exclusively male. There were a few with an office practice, but in the Jefferson County courthouse, women lawyers were virtually invisible. It was there that Miss Nina diligently and frequently pursued her individual general and commercial practice in Probate Court, the Intermediate Civil Court and the Domestic Relations and Civil Divisions of the Circuit Court.” Miss Nina’s experience was hardly unique to Birmingham or to the practice of law. Professional women across the planet have and continue to face certain challenges that often do not exist for our male counterparts. A New Jersey attorney named Jaye Rancourt provided a humorous and relatable anecdote about the different issues facing female attorneys, which involved an occasion when she carried frozen pizza dough to court in her purse so that it could thaw in time for dinner. In Allison Pearson’s novel, “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” Kate Reddy is a New York hedge fund manager who balances international travel and motherhood. Her husband finds her up in the wee hours of the morning pounding a store bought pie crust with a rolling pin to try and make it look homemade for her child’s school in order to avoid the condemnation of the stay-at-home mothers. When I read that passage, I laughed out loud and recalled my own days of juggling a Brownie troop and other activities while maintaining my full-time law practice. These crazy juggling exercises were a common experience of many women at the time we formed the Section, and it provided a comfortable environment to share these challenges, while at the same time engaging in typical professional association activities such as discussing work-related issues and networking with others to develop business relationships. This outlet allowed us to not only laugh about something like the truth of the Kate Reddy dilemma, but also to develop better self-images than society generally afforded us. As Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Facebook, adroitly observed in her book, “Lean In,” in discussing Ms. Reddy’s depiction: “It may not be as dramatic or funny to make a movie about a woman who loves both her job and her family, but that would be a better reflection of reality. We need more portrayals of women as competent professionals and competent mothers. The current negative images Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Fall 2014 9


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Fall 2014
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