Norma Levy Shapiro.

Author:Brody, Anita B.
Position:Women judges - Testimonial

This issue of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review is dedicated to Judge Shapiro on the occasion of her twenty-fifth year on the federal bench. Why Judge Shapiro? Is it that she is the first woman to sit in the Third Circuit, that she was the first woman part-time partner at a major Philadelphia law firm, that she was the first woman to serve as a law clerk on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the first woman to chair the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association? Is it that Judge Shapiro chaired the Women's Rights Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the American Bar Association (ABA) Conference of Federal Trial Judges, probably the first woman to hold the latter position? Is it because, besides all these activities, she was chair of the ABA Judicial Division, served as a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, and just recently was nominated Judicial Division representative to the ABA Board of Governors? Granted these are all significant contributions to the law by a member of the legal community, but surely alone they did not trigger the publication of this tribute.

Perhaps this tribute was occasioned by her beyond-the-law activities. The list of her community contributions is long. Among other accomplishments, Judge Shapiro was President of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors and President of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Publication Society, Vice-President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Philadelphia, and a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Yet I doubt that even these impressive additions to her legal work prompted this tribute.

I submit that Judge Shapiro is receiving this recognition because so many legal professionals in this city simply adore her in a way that goes beyond respect and admiration. I will try to shed some light on this phenomenon.

In 1978, the loud buzz around the legal community was all about President Carter's appointment of a woman to the federal bench, and a Republican no less. Those of us close to Judge Shapiro knew coming with the glory of this honor were hundreds of "dogs" dumped on her lap by her new colleagues as soon as she arrived at Sixth and Market Streets. "Dogs" are loosely defined as cases that are very old, or cases where the lawyers do not get along with one another, or cases where the trial is expected to last a month or longer. (Thereafter, Judge Shapiro saw to it that this...

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