June 06, 2011 Articles

Top Tips for Litigators

Judge Susan N. Burke offers tips for women litigators from the perspective of a female judge.

By Hon. Susan N. Burke

In January 2008, I was in Cairo, Egypt, meeting with a small group of women who had just become some of the first women ever to be appointed to serve on the Egyptian judiciary. They wanted to know what it was like to be a woman judge in the United States. They shared with me stories of their male colleagues refusing to even sit on the bench with them. The Egyptian judges sat on multiple-judge panels, so collegiality was of utmost importance.

In contrast, when I became a judge in 2005, 27 of my 61 fellow judges were women. The chief judge of the district court was a woman. The chief justice of the State Supreme Court was a woman. At one point, four of the seven Minnesota Supreme Court justices were women.

Our experiences were so different that I did not feel that I was able to offer much useful information to my Egyptian friends. I do believe, however, that I can share some tips that may be useful in your practice here in the United States.

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