Two winners of Boalt Hall fellowship to work on women’s legal issues

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

06 June 2001 | Two School of Law students will spend the summer aiding the cause of women’s rights, thanks to a fellowship honoring the school’s first and only female dean.

Now in its second year, the Herma Hill Kay Fellowship enables Boalt students to contribute and hone skills related to employment and family law, sexual harassment, welfare rights and other issues of interest to women.

The fellowship was named for Kay “in recognition of her pioneering leadership throughout her career,” said John Dwyer, Boalt’s dean.

“I am honored and delighted to have these excellent Boalt students doing research in my field of interest and in my name,” Kay said.

This summer, second-year Boalt student Ave Mince-Didier will serve as a law clerk at Equal Rights Advocates, a San Francisco-based women’s law center whose founders included Kay and her students.

“I will be working on cases that have the potential to bring real, material change into the lives of thousands of women who are disadvantaged by sex discrimination,” said Mince-Didier.

The organization, for example, recently filed a suit against AT&T, alleging discrimination in the company’s pension policy — which for many years treated pregnancy-related leaves less favorably than other types of absences.

A second 2001 fellowship winner, Bronwen Blass, will work for the Women’s Family Law Center on domestic violence issues.

Last summer the initial recipient, Dana Hirschenbaum, helped provide free legal services to women with breast cancer.

“(T)he scope of problems faced by women with the disease is very broad, “ she said, “so I was able to get exposure to a wide variety of legal issues and to the various cultural and social implications of a breast cancer diagnosis.”

Dwyer calls the fellowship a tribute to “the initiative and social commitment of our students,” who initiated the progam and each year raise funds to support it. So far, the Boalt Hall Women’s Association has raised more than $10,000 for its support.

Kay first joined the faculty in 1960, the second woman to do so, and served as dean from 1992 to 2000. She co-wrote California’s much-copied no-fault divorce law, enacted in 1970. A year later the National Women’s Political Caucus named her one of the 10 women most qualified for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.


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