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Law360: Why Can’t Female Lawyers Make Headway At The High Court?

July 14, 2020

In this Law360 article exploring why the US Supreme Court bar “remains one of the industry’s thickest glass ceilings,” O’Melveny counsel Kendall Turner recalls the day of her debut oral argument before the Court. “I felt much calmer than I thought I would,” Turner says, citing ample preparation that included four moot sessions with her colleagues at O’Melveny. She buttoned up her blazer, “drank a bunch of coffee,” and drove with her father to the Court, as she recounts in the article. Turner was one of only 13 women out of 100 attorneys to argue before the Court this term.

Among the issues the article cites as leading to such low numbers is the gender disparity in Supreme Court clerkships, which can give attorneys a greater chance of being considered for a high court argument. Turner notes that her clerkship with Justice Stephen Breyer helped her “better understand what they’re looking for in oral advocacy.”

The article also references the impact that more senior practitioners can have when they are willing to offer those more junior the highly sought-after opportunity to argue before the Court. For Turner, that person was O’Melveny special counsel Jeffrey Fisher, who suggested Turner make the argument as they worked with co-counsel to challenge a Fifth Circuit interpretation of a criminal appeal rule.

Law360 subscribers can read the full article here.