Idealist, visionary, strategist, or feminist are not the first words that come to mind when one hears the word “lawyer,” but for feminists and equality advocates, they should be. Law is about amplifying the voices that speak truth to power. Both as activists looking for ways to create the world we want and as people looking for ways to create meaningful careers, we need to recognize the importance of dedicated feminist lawyers to our achievements (those past and those to come) in women’s equality, and especially in reproductive rights. Most of us know that the right to contraception was won through court cases, and everyone knows about Roe. But in every reproductive justice area, from STI prevention and treatment to contraception to health insurance to maternal care to abortion to sex education to birthing options to parenting rights, lawyers help shape the rules that govern our lives. We work for legislators, helping them to write laws that protect women’s autonomy and promote equality. We evaluate proposed legislation to determine what it would do in practice, allowing people to mobilize in support or opposition. Once legislation is passed, we learn the nuts and bolts that put the law into practice and advocate for rules that promote the values expressed in the legislation; we then evaluate the resulting regulations and advocate for improvements. We go to court, litigating to get recognition of our human rights, to enforce or challenge laws, to defend against attacks, and to help individuals exercise the rights for which we’ve all fought. And we work with our communities and clients all the while, ensuring that public policy is responsive to lived experience.
The legal field, even within public interest law, and even within a subset of public interest law like reproductive rights, can be overwhelming. For non-lawyers, it can be hard to figure out where the law fits into your overall vision and strategy. But for lawyers, especially us young lawyers, it’s no less confusing; it’s hard to figure out where you as an individual fit into the social movements around you. To help current law students in this process, the National Women’s Law Center and Law Students for Reproductive Justice are teaming up for our annual training for law students on June 11th. Training topics will include:
Reproductive Health Care and Health Reform
Reproductive Health on the Hill: Lobbying Skills
Religious Restrictions on Reproductive Health Care
Career Panel: Jobs in Reproductive Law and Policy
For more information and to register, click here.