Women in law panelists share their stories

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Four women working in law came to Colgate in March to share their stories as participants in roundtable and panel discussions. Christine Amalfe, Avery Blank ’08, Natalia Delgado ’03, and the Honorable Karen Peters talked about how they got into law as well as the triumphs and challenges of their careers. Here are some highlights.

“[Women] look at a job description and say ‘I don’t have eight of the ten qualifications, so I’m not going to do it,’ and the men look at it and say, ‘I have two of the ten qualifications, I’m prepared.’ In this case, I had none of the qualifications [to defend employment cases] other than I was a good trial lawyer … but I learned it. I’m now chairing the department, and I have about 14 lawyers who work for me.”
— Christine Amalfe P’16, chair, Employment and Labor Law Department, Gibbons P.C.

“So many people, so many women, wait for permission to do something, but I’d had it, so I said ‘I’m going out on my own.’ Now I have my own consultancy, where I work with individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of women.”
— Avery Blank ’08, policy attorney and women’s advocate

“As a woman and as a person of color, the biggest sense of satisfaction that I got was winning — when they weren’t ready at all for you to do anything that you just did, because they discounted you from the moment you walked in the door, based on your physical appearance alone.”
— Natalia Delgado ’03, deputy chief legal counsel, Illinois State Police

Early in her career, Karen Peters found herself needing to prove herself to the men she worked with and to the judges with whom she interacted. In one case, a judge asked her if her title was Miss or Mrs., to which she responded, “It’s Ms.” The judge kept repeating his question. They drew the attention of the 100 male lawyers in the room, and Peters said, “Judge, it’s Ms. If you’re not capable of calling me by that term, when you take a recess, I’d be happy to come to your chambers and tutor you.”
— The Honorable Judge Karen Peters, presiding justice, Third Appellate Division, NYS