Celebrating Women's History Month
During its annual Woman of Substance event on February 12, Seton Hall University School of Law’s Women’s Law Forum honored three powerful women attorneys who exemplify leadership, character, and achievement in the legal field. The Honorable Linda Lordi-Cavanaugh ’79, Mayling Blanco ’06, and June Forrest were recognized for inspiring young lawyers and pursuing the ideals of justice and service. They each shared details of their personal morals and beliefs that guided them into lucrative legal careers.
As a fearless leader of the courts, Judge Lordi-Cavanaugh has served as a Superior Court Judge in the Family Division in New Jersey since 2014.
During her acceptance speech, Judge Lordi-Cavanaugh reflected on her path to the bench and being present. She said, “we can all make a difference. Step by step, one act of kindness or generosity, one simple thought or consideration, one choice at a time. We face opportunities for this every day. The idea is to be conscious; to be aware; to see what is in front of us; to see further than our own noses; to see more than just ourselves.”
She went on to encourage those entering the legal profession to be present: “As attorneys we learn how to think, how to be logical, reasonable and rationale. But the legal profession should not be seen merely as a business. It is not a game of winning and losing. When you take your oath you dedicate yourself to upholding the Constitution of the United States and of this State. These are responsibilities of great magnitude. Never forget that and never take them for granted. Because these issues are not merely litigated before these courts. We face these issues, issues of equality and freedom and fairness every day. And we see them – if we keep our eyes, and our minds and our hearts open.”
Mayling Blanco, Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, focused on the passengers on her train ride that “will shape your journey in unimaginable ways.” These included classmates, mentors, and given the theme of the event, women.
Of relationships with classmates, she shared, “During your time here in law school you will make connections with your fellow classmates. And as you embark on your careers you will have the opportunity to practice with impressive colleagues. These are the folks that you will call when you have a legal question you don’t know the answer to, when you need guidance on your career, and will meet you at the end of a long day when you are ready to call it quits.”
Of mentors, Blanco encouraged, “They selflessly provide guidance, believe in you, and advocate for you. They will invite you to opportunities b/c they don’t see your color, gender, accent, or the economic condition you grew up in as something that hinders you. Instead they see your work ethic and perseverance as something to be celebrated.”
And of impactful women, she shared, “Know that there are women who came before you that opened doors that were seemingly impenetrable. They are counting on you to continue to make it easier for the generations that come after you to be a lawyer AND a woman. Each of you will have the opportunity to shape what that looks like and carry the baton a bit further.”
Assistant Dean for of Career Services, June Forrest, encouraged students to build a meaningful career on the foundation of three key cornerstones – remember where you came from, keep moving forward in your career leaning on the people you meet along the way, and always have gratitude.
She championed those in the room to, “Remember where you came from and carry those lessons into the life and home you create. Remember that when the day is long, the case impossible, its ok because you belong at the table and with some hard work and the support of your loved ones, you can achieve anything.”
Forrest continued, that despite roadblocks, “Let your heart guide you but don't be afraid to let the road guide you, too. Sometimes moving forward means taking a detour or a leap of faith... There will be plenty of people along the road or just below the cliff that will catch you. When you need to, lean on them. It takes a village to make a good lawyer.”
Forrest concluded her speech by expressing thanks for both good and bad luck, stating, “The good will energize you and move you in the right direction. The bad will make you thankful when things go right and kinder, too. Sometimes the bad luck leads you to something way better. And sometimes bad luck might even be good luck.”