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Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Babcock
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Woman Lawyer tells the story of Clara Foltz, the first woman admitted to the California Bar. Famous in her time as a public intellectual, leader of the women's movement, and legal reformer, Foltz faced terrific prejudice and well-organized opposition to women lawyers as she tried cases in front of all-male juries, raised five children as a single mother, and stumped for political candidates. She was the first to propose the creation of a public defender to balance the public prosecutor. Woman Lawyer uncovers the legal reforms and societal contributions of a woman celebrated in her day, but lost to history until now. It casts new light on the turbulent history and politics of California in a period of phenomenal growth and highlights the interconnection of the suffragists and other movements for civil rights and legal reforms.

Editorial Reviews


"By rescuing Clara Foltz's story from relative obscurity, Babcock has provided a powerful reminder of women's strength in the face of adversity, their will to overcome difficulties, and, together with sympathique brothers-in-law, to work toward a system of justice accessible and fair to all. Women Lawyer should engage feminists of my era and my children's generation, and history buffs of any age; most of all, the book should amaze and inspire young women and public defenders just embarking on their lives in the law."—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stanford Law Review

"Stanford Law professor Barbara Babcock enriches our knowledge of women and the law in California history with this single volume, Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz. . . Chapters devoted to her writings in law reviews and model statutes investigate and reveal Foltz's thinking and her impact on public life. . . [R]eaders will find in them extensive detail and compelling analysis."—Brenda Farrington, Western Legal History

"For Barbara Babcock, a distinguished legal historian who is herself a feminist pioneer . . . this book is clearly a labor of love, but also of identification. Babcock recognizes that the women we write about are not always model heroines; they have flaws, make mistakes, and choose differently from what we might have chosen. She tells Foltz's tale with commendable dispassion, never too close to her subject nor too critical, yet with her own perspective 'as a trial lawyer, a public defender, a first woman, and a feminist' shaping the account in both the selection and treatment of her material."—Rosemary Auchmuty, Feminist Legal Studies

"Babcock is at her best in Woman Lawyer . . . giving just enough information to whet the appetite."—Tracy Thomas, Journal of American History

"The book is rich in history, and as entertaining and lively as its subject."—Barbara Kate Repa, California Lawyer

About the Author

Barbara Babcock, Judge John Crown Professor of Law, Emerita, at Stanford University, is the first woman appointed to the regular faculty at Stanford Law School. She served as an Assistant Attorney General and was the first Director of the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1352 KB
  • Print Length: 393 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0804743584
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (January 5, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JTDO96
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,536 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As a juror in the building named for her... June 22, 2011
I know this review will not be particularly helpful regarding this book, but I write this from the jury room at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Courthouse in Los Angeles, formerly The Criminal Courthouse, and I want to applaud the subject matter. (It is on the 9th floor that such trials as O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector took place.) While waiting to hear my name called, I read a small publication put out by the courts for juror interest and amusement. The focus was Women in the Law. One of the women mentioned was Clara Foltz...and I realized I was in "her" courthouse. In the halls, all one hears is grumbling about being 'stuck' at jury duty. I think it would be wonderful if the experts on Ms. Foltz' life could create a brief biographical film to show jurors the extent to which some citizens have gone for law. To have sat here and silently read her story has made me want to shout out, "Excuse me, everyone - but listen to this!" We take things like the public defender for granted. Every woman in this room probably takes for granted that she can serve. Clara Shortridge Foltz is my new hero. She lived a life that truly made a difference. Bravo to the author of this book for not letting it be forgotten. Now to fill out one of the juror suggestion cards. ;0)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Massaro
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Barbara Babcock has written an elegant, important biography of a nearly lost figure in American legal history. Clara Foltz led an extraordinary life by any measure, in any era. But in the late nineteenth century Foltz led an almost unbelievable life of professional achievements, vision, and ambition.

Anyone interested in legal history, in women's rights, or in the dawn of American consciousness about the importance of providing legal representation to the poor will enjoy this engaging and brilliantly documented account of Foltz's colorful career. Along the way, they also will learn much about California history and the rise of the west coast as a center of intellectual and cultural innovation and growth.

A "first woman" herself --Babcock has been a path-breaker in her own professional career --the author brings Foltz to life as a complex, compelling human being. Her victories, her disappointments, and her boundless hope all are part of this lovely portrait of an activist who wanted equal rights for all --including for herself in a profession that saw women's role as hearth and home, not bench and bar.

The book also is an excellent account of constitutional and practical arguments for effective assistance of counsel that are as relevant today as they were in the 1870s.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting a long time for this biography! January 30, 2011
By jillian
Professor Babcock took a long time to research the life and times of Clara Foltz. Foltz, a pioneering woman lawyer took on the California Governor to change the law so she could go to law school, then bettered her male rivals once graduating. She did what no others would do and made sure every person had representation.
This book is so well written by Barbara Babcock who herself, rivals Clara's career path to be the first woman in a few modern categories.
A must read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiration by woman of courage January 24, 2011
Everyone woman in America should read this book to be inspired by the incredible courage and hard work people like Clara Shortridge Foltz. In her long life, Clara advocated for the rights of women to vote, hold office and work, and for the rights of all people to get a fair trial. Barbara Babcock writes about Clara with a clear eye and crisp prose. Clara is not a saint, but her strengths and weaknesses make her seem like a real person, and the description of her verve and charm make her seem like a real person whom you'd like to know and befriend. The description of her trials and strategy as a lawyer show her skill and intelligence. This book does a great job in painting a portrait not only of an individual but also of the times in which she lived. The state of California and the spirit of the west - that made it possible for a woman like Clara to become a lawyer - shine in this book. I highly recommend this book as a fascinating look at a courageous, spirited woman.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars California history February 24, 2011
Barbara Babcock, much loved Stanford Law professor and herself a hero to hundreds of today's successful women lawyers, has painted a fascinating picture of life in California at the end of the 19th century. A single parent with five children, Clara Foltz fought like a tiger to support her children, forcing her way into the exclusive and often corrupt ranks of law, business and politics. She earned money as she could, most frequently as a paid orator (one of the few positions available to an articulate, quick-witted female in those days), hired to travel the state and country speaking in favor of candidates and causes. The book gives us a rare glimpse into daily life in San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego before the turn of the century, with colorful descriptions of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the movement for women's suffrage, the 1906 earthquake and Sacramento politics.
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