We interviewed the Honorable Gail Standish, a US Magistrate who loves patent law and Taylor Swift (you might remember how she used Swift's lyrics to dismiss a suit brought against her
). She's a regular bad ass and is here to give you advice about career changes and becoming a judge. You know, in case you were thinking about going back to school.
Five Questions for Judge Standish
You started off as an engineer who earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees from MIT (I did my research). What made you decide to change gears and get a law degree?
A couple of things. While I was a really good student, I was a really terrible engineer. I appreciate things that are well designed and well made, but danged if I can actually do that myself. Put it this way: I wouldn't want to fly in an airplane I designed. I'd also taken a few law and policy classes in graduate school for fun, easy credits. I enjoyed them. A lot. So I took the LSAT on a lark and did pretty well.
As a woman, what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in the courtroom? Any advice for women thinking about getting a law degree?
To be a really effective advocate, you have to have presence in the courtroom. Kind of take over the room, but still be respectful and not arrogant. That's often harder for women to do, because we still have to deal with certain stereotypes. A woman who's too aggressive is seen as - pardon the saying - bitchy or shrill. One who is not aggressive enough is seen as too girly - a pushover. Demonstrating confidence and competence is the way to go.
Who’s your favorite Chief Justice?
I haven't got one. Heck, I couldn't even name many of them.
What do you think Hollywood gets the most wrong about being a judge?
We don't use gavels anymore. At least around here.
And finally, you know we had to ask it, what do ya’ll wear underneath those robes?
Whatever we want. :)
Thanks for the advice Judge Standish! Good to know that the only people using gavels are state senators