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Joanna Grossman: Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Hofstra University School of Law, Hempstead, NY
[By Charisse Dengler] Joanna Grossman is a woman, a wife, a mother, and a lawyer, among other things, and shes proud of it. As a professor and expert in sex discrimination law, Grossman is thankful for women like Stanford professor Barbara Babcock, who understand the need for a balance between work and family.
Professor Barbara Babcock encouraged my work in womens legal history and, perhaps more importantly, taught me that it was okay to take personal reasons like family into account when making career decisions, she said. Clerking is a wonderful job. Its one of the Grossman doesnt agree with the tendency of the legal profession to discriminate against attorneys who attempt to have a life outside of the law. The structure of the legal profession is a significant issue facing the legal community, especially those members of it who are trying to practice law while raising children, she said. It is so difficult to lead a balanced life as a lawyer, given the increasing number of hours lawyers work in every setting, but particularly so in private firms. The professions all-or-nothing structure means that while women are graduating in equal numbers from law school, the upper echelon of legal jobs is still occupied primarily by men. The profession ought to be structured in a way that both men and women could have a meaningful professional and personal life. Grossman, who went into the legal field because she thought it would suit her argumentative personality, said shed wanted to be a lawyer ever since she was young. I pretended to be a lawyer when I was a child, always signing my letters Joanna Grossman, Esquire, she said. After graduating from Stanford Law School, she no longer had to pretend. These three experiences were quite different from one another, but each has turned out to be important to my academic career, she said. There is no better way to learn about and appreciate the common law process than by clerking. Reading briefs, hearing lawyers argue cases, and drafting opinions all contribute to a more nuanced ability to read and understand judicial opinions. My work at the National Womens Law Center has been integral to the development of my interest and expertise in sex discrimination law. I first worked on sexual harassment issues at the center and have researched and written about the subject ever since. My time in private practice was very rewarding and enables me to give practical context and examples to the material I teach. When it comes to teaching, there isnt much about it that Grossman doesnt enjoy. In addition to clerking, she has also worked as a staff attorney for the National Womens Law Center in Washington, DC, and practiced law at the firm of Williams & Connolly. few times in a legal career that you get to sit back and figure out the right answer, rather than advocate for a particular position, she said. Its also interesting to see how little discretion appellate judges have in most cases. The outcome is dictated by the procedural posture and precedent most of the time. Upon graduation, Grossman clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, an experience she urges all law school graduates to pursue. Iencourage students to get legal experience any way they canas a government lawyer, in a nonprofit organization, or with a private firm, she said. Lawyers change jobs frequently, so students should not feel like the first job they take will be the last. Trial and error is often the way to end up in a job that suits you. In her current position as Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Hofstra University School of Law, Grossman deals with research issues regarding the school and its faculty. I focus on developing and promoting the intellectual and research interests of our law school faculty, she said. This includes oneon-one mentoring of junior faculty, planning and organizing academic conferences, and promoting the scholarly work of our entire faculty to the broader academic community. Grossmans father is a political science professor, and growing up in an academic house gave her an appreciation for the profession. She said even throughout her previous positions, her heart was in teaching and research. Law teaching is a wonderful profession, she said. It is interesting and intellectually satisfying, but it also affords the time and flexibility to have a life outside of work. Having learned valuable skills in each of her positions, Grossman encourages law students to strive to gain a wide foundation of experience.

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LAWCROSSING
LAW STAR

THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH

www.lawcrossing.com

1. 800.973.1177

In big classes, there is a performance aspect of it that is both challenging and exhilarating. In smaller classes, the thrill is in getting to know and really reach students on a more personal level, she said. It is always satisfying to see students really grasp the material you are teaching, and they, in turn, challenge me to think in new ways about the subject matter. In addition to teaching, Grossman spent the past three years serving on the

editorial board of Perspectivesa position that recently ended. Perspectives, the magazine of the American Bar Associations Commission on Women, deals with issues pertaining to female attorneys, which Grossman is extremely passionate about. She also writes articles dealing with sexual discrimination for FindLaw.com. A collection of her columns can be found at http://writ.news.findlaw.com/grossman.

ON THE NET Hofstra University School of Law www.hofstra.edu/Academics/Law/index_law. cfm FindLaw writ.news.findlaw.com Perspectives www.abanet.org/women

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