Just this morning, author Barbara Babcock’s interview on the newly published book Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz was featured as a cover story on Rorotoko.com. The book is a biographical and thematic study of Clara Shortridge Foltz, California's first woman lawyer. Foltz is remembered for her invention and championship of the idea of the public defender and her persistence even in the face of terrific prejudice and opposition to women lawyers. Foltz aided in the long struggle for women’s rights, attending rallies, marching, and lobbying persistently. Her journey was not a struggle for women's rights only, but for the right of the poor as well. Foltz was the only person in her time to suggest that poor people deserved rights and representation just as much as people who could afford legal aid themselves. After conducting a diligent campaign in Los Angeles, the first public defender came to existence in 1913 thanks to Foltz.
Like the great woman at the center of her story, author Barbara Babcock is also a champion of women’s rights and public defense. Babcock was the first woman to be part of the regular faculty at Stanford Law School and she’s certainly utilized her position to further the path of women’s and civil rights. From sexual discrimination courses to civil and criminal procedure seminars, Babcock passes the championing torch of civil rights on to her students everyday.
For anyone interested in civil rights and legal reform, particularly in California’s history, Babcock's book will come as a welcome read. For a more in-depth look at the book and Babcock's own thoughts on Clara Foltz and women’s rights, look into her interview on Rorotoko. There have been a lot of rights and a lot of wrongs done on the path to civil liberties for all, and these women have committed some “rights” worth reading about.