Poetry Month Giveaway: Win a Sonia Sanchez Poster
Video: Nancy Gertner On Being an "Unrepentant Advocate" and How She Became a Judge

In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate

"Nancy Gertner's book should be required reading at every law school in the country where women-and men-are learning these days that they have to choose between a successful legal career and their deepest convictions about justice. She is living proof that you don't have to sacrifice one for the other. You can have it all. Indeed, she has done it all." -Ellen Goodman, author of Paper Trail

Book cover for Nancy Gertner's In Defense of Women

From a "Human Rights Hero," a memoir of her illustrious career litigating groundbreaking cases

Today Judge Nancy Gertner dons a long black robe while presiding over court cases for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. But in the 1970s, when she was one of few women in a stubbornly male profession, she sported bright red suits that reflected her fearless choice of cases and her daring litigation tactics. Defending clients in some of the most prominent criminal and civil rights cases of the time, Gertner drove home the point that women lawyers belonged in our courtrooms.

In 1975, Nancy Gertner launched her legal career by defending antiwar activist Susan Saxe, who was on trial for her role in a robbery that resulted in the murder of a police officer. It was a high-profile, complex, and highly charged case. What followed for Gertner was a career of other groundbreaking firsts, as she fought her way through the boys' club climate of the time, throwing herself into criminal and civil cases focused on women's rights and civil liberties.

Looking back on her storied career, Gertner writes about her struggle to succeed personally and professionally while working on benchmark cases. Among her clients were a woman suing the psychiatrist who had repeatedly molested her; another on trial for murdering her abusive husband; Teresa Contardo, suing Merrill Lynch for discrimination; and Clare Dalton, suing Harvard Law School for the same offense. In her signature red suit, Nancy Gertner was always the unrepentant advocate in defense of women. But over the years she also represented a student accused of rape; Ted Anzalone, on trial for extortion; and Matthew Stuart, implicated in his brother Charles's infamous murder of his pregnant wife.

In Defense of Women is the one-of-a-kind memoir of an exceptional, self-proclaimed "outsider lawyer."

Available from: Beacon Press | Independent Bookstore | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell's

Watch Nancy Gertner talk with Emily Rooney on Greater Boston. 

Read an excerpt from In Defense of Women by Nancy Gertner, here or on Scribd