On March 8, 2012 retired Judge Patricia Wald spoke about her legal career at the "UDC-DCSL Legends in the Law/Women's History Month Celebration.” The event was presented by UDC-DCSL and the UDC-DCSL Women’s Law Society and Dean Broderick moderated the discussion.
Pat Wald graduated from Connecticut College for Women in 1948 and Yale Law School in 1951. Wald discussed her legal career including working on securities law on Wall Street, part-time work at the U.S. Department of Justice during the 1960s, and working for the Neighborhood Legal Services Program.
Wald then served as assistant U.S. attorney general for legislative affairs during much of the Carter administration, until President Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 1979. She was the first woman to serve on the appeals court and was its Chief Judge from 1986 to 1991.
Pat Wald said two of the great things about serving on the court is that the courts are independent and that every case you work on has an effect. She also offered some advice for current law students. She told them to write well, gain experience in litigation, and to take risks.
In 1999, she retired from the federal appeals court and spent two years in The Hague as a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She also joined the president's intelligence commission. She is a vocal supporter of the International Criminal Court and criticized the Bush administration's withdrawal from that body.
Wald also served as chairwoman of the Open Society Criminal Justice Initiative, a program sponsored by wealthy financier and philanthropist George Soros, and resigned from the board position in February 2004.
She has been honored with awards from many groups, including the International Human Rights Law Group, the Environmental Law Institute and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
I met Judge Wald in her Neighborhood Legal Services work while I was active in the ACLU of Virginia.
Here in Portugal where I retired in 1989 I met her again when she gave a lecture on the International Criminal Court.
Gilbert Wells, Azenhas do Mar, Portugal