Last night, Thursday, September 1, 2011, hundreds of attorneys, friends, and others gathered at the Brown Palace in downtown Denver to celebrate three women, pioneers of the legal profession in Colorado. Jean Dubofsky, Gale Norton, and Patricia Schroeder were honored by the Colorado Women’s Bar Association Foundation as “famous firsts” for Colorado women:
- Jean Dubofsky – First Woman Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court (1979)
- Jean is an attorney who has represented litigants in state and federal courts – primarily appellate courts – in constitutional tort, workers’ compensation, commercial, criminal, civil rights, and family law cases.
- She served as a justice on the Colorado Supreme Court from 1979 until 1987, the first woman appointed to the court. Subsequently, she was lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the successful constitutional challenge to Amendment 2 to the Colorado Constitution; the case, Romer v. Evans, is the first time that the United States Supreme Court recognized gay rights (1996).
- Jean serves on the boards of Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy, Rocky Mountain Wild, and Boulder Community Hospital. She is a 1964 graduate of Stanford University and and a 1967 graduate of Harvard Law School.
- Gale Norton – First Woman Attorney General of Colorado (1990) and First Woman Interior Secretary (2001)
- Gale has handled multi-billion-dollar and high-profile litigation involving products liability, antitrust, taxation, environmental, and constitutional issues, including arguing cases before the United States Supreme Court and negotiating one o the largest lawsuit settlements in history. Norton served two terms as the elected Attorney General of Colorado, from 1991-1999.
- As Secretary of the Interior, from 2001-2006, she was responsible for managing of 20% of the land area of the United States, a Fortune-500-sized budget, and a workforce of 70,000 employees.
- Gale returned to Colorado as General Counsel for Royal Dutch Shell Unconventional Oil, from 2007-2010. She is currently on boards for the Federalist Society, the Reagan Alumni Association, and the University of Colorado Renewable and Sustainable Energy Initiative.
- Patricia Schroeder – First Woman Elected to the United States Congress from Colorado (1972) and the First Woman to Serve on the House Armed Services Committee (1973)
- Graduating from law school in 1964, Pat worked at the National Labor Relations Board, taught in local universities, and was a hearing officer for the Colorado State Personnel system. After winning her campaign to serve in the United States Congress, she requested a seat on the Armed Services Committee; though it caused upheaval in the House, she got on and served on that committee and Judiciary for 24 years.
- Retiring in 1997, Pat taught at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. After, she was the President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers. Currently, she is Chair of the English Speaking Union, the vice char of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, on the Boards of Common Cause, the Communications Consortium, and the Child Welfare League of America.
- Pat is also the author of two books: “Champion of the Great American Family” and “24 Years of Housework…and the Place is Still a Mess: My Life in Politics.”
The event was emceed by Tamara Banks, who interviewed all of the honorees. The interviews can be viewed below and will also air this Sunday, September 4, 2011 on PBS Channel 12.2.
The Colorado Women’s Bar Association was founded in 1978 and is the largest specialty bar association in Colorado and one of the largest and most influential bar associations in the country. It’s mission has remained the same since its inception: to promote women in the legal profession and the interests of women generally.