October 01, 2020 Feature

Affirmed: The Impact of Sandra Day O’Connor

A look at the Justice’s life and career.

Barbara J. Dawson

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In our Spring 2020 issue, we celebrated the impact of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor through reminiscences by some of her law clerks. See 46 Litigation no. 3, Spring 2020, at 28–30. But there was even more to Justice O’Connor. The following further observations and reflections, also by former law clerks about the first woman to serve as a justice of the United States Supreme Court, supplement and enhance our original tribute.

On a sunny day in Arizona, with the thermometer hitting 104 degrees, then Litigation Section Chair Barb Dawson and three of Justice O’Connor’s early clerks, all of whom share deep Arizona ties, met to discuss some of the effects of her life and work. The setting was the Phoenix office of Snell & Wilmer, one of the many law firms where, based on her gender, Justice O’Connor was denied employment decades earlier. But it was also the firm where Justice O’Connor made a special appearance more recently to christen a Women in Leadership Program promoting the advancement of women in the firm and the profession. Such generosity in the pursuit of positive change has been a hallmark of Justice O’Connor’s legacy.

Illustration by Bradley Clark

Illustration by Bradley Clark

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