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Alumnae Attend Feminist Student Association’s Women in Law Dinner

An article in the April 12, 2024, edition of The Record highlighted the participation of two HM alumnae as panelists at the Feminist Student Association’s Women in Law Dinner.

Alumni Return to School for FSA’s ‘Women in Law’ Dinner

By Lexi Lawsky, Staff Writer

Jessica Moldovan ’07 (left) and Liberty Aldrich ’86 (second from left) returned to campus to participate in the FSA’s Women in Law Dinner. (Photo:  Barry Mason)

“Take up the space that you deserve,” Jessica Moldovan ’07, an associate at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, said. Moldovan’s, Liberty Aldrich’s ‘86, a Civil Court Judge, and Valentine Morales’s, a Criminal Court Judge, words echoed through Cohen Dining Commons (CDC) during the Women in Law dinner last Thursday, April 4th. The Feminist Student Association (FSA) hosted a dinner and panel discussion with three guests, followed by a Q&A session.

FSA co-leaders Nia Huff (12) and Rani Ogden (12) worked with FSA advisors and history teachers Dr. Emily Straus ’91 and Dr. Lauren Meyer, Dean of Students Michael Dalo, Head of Upper Division Jessica Levenstein, and Director of Alumni Relations Kristin Lax to make the dinner possible, Ogden said.

The panel intended to show current female students that a career in law is achievable but also to share the difficulties of being a woman in this line of work, Huff said.

The panelists shared personal experiences with sexism, even in high school, which some students could relate to, Ogden said. “They were very authentic with their answers and very honest and vulnerable.”

When asked what inspired them to join the legal field, Aldrich referenced her involvement in women’s groups at the school and later at Harvard at the women’s center, hoping to help women in whatever career path she chose. Moldovan replied that she had always cared about women’s issues, and wanted to fight gender-based discrimination in the medical field through being a doctor before realizing that she wanted to pursue law. For Morales, she wanted to be a “revolutionary” and many people who had inspired her had law degrees, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other female judges.

Moldovan’s story of getting into medical school, throwing up when she got in, and realizing she should go to law school caught the audience’s attention, Madison Mitchell (11) said. Hearing from women who also were not sure about what they wanted to do was assuring to many high school girls, Mitchell said.

Mitchell decided to attend the dinner partly because she is a member of FSA and also because she is interested in pursuing a career in the legal field. “It was really great to hear their different experiences with different parts of the law, like working in the criminal and civil courts and corporate law.”

By answering questions from Huff and Ogden as well as from the audience, the panelists offered high school, college, law school, and career advice to the attendees. Moldovan recommended that students should take whatever courses they want in college instead of limiting themselves to law. She also encouraged students to get involved in extracurriculars and to learn to think critically.

When asked what obstacles she currently faces, Moldovan brought up the subtle sexist comments that she has experienced with opposing counsel and people from her own firm. For example, after appearing in court once, the opposing counsel approached Moldovan and patted her on the shoulder, and said, “you did great, sweetie,” leaving Moldovan speechless. Now, when Moldovan is on calls with that same lawyer, she stands up for herself and says, “I’m not done,” when he interrupts her. When colleagues say or do something sexist, Moldovan usually jokingly asks, “would you say that to a man?”

Even female students not wanting to pursue a career in law took something away from the panel, Kira Lewis (11) said. “I learned that women in other fields have similar issues to women in law. The idea of being underestimated was an interesting and important commonality that I learned,” Lewis said.

An important lesson to take away from the panel was to be authentic and true to yourself, Meyer said. “Trying to block out noise and expectations and follow one’s own path takes a lot of reflection and a strong sense of self, especially when coming up against some structural barriers as a woman seeking to join this sort of profession.”