Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Julia Virginia Jones, October 6, 1997. Interview J-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Women attorneys forge informal alliances with each other

Female attorneys had a unique need for an informal social network among themselves. Jones believes that such a female coalition must encourage women to work through the established organizational channels in order to increase the status of women in the field of law.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Julia Virginia Jones, October 6, 1997. Interview J-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JUDGE JULIA V. JONES:
...It seems that there was a difference in need among women that were at the medium sized to larger firms. We did not have a formal women attorney's group ever. That was kind of the six or seven of us that were in this core group. Always felt that women ought to work with an established bar and that the best way to achieve recognition, get appointed to boards or be president of the local bar, was to work through that. Instead, what we did for a number of years, two or three times a year we would get together informally. We had a little mailing list and we would send out a mailing that would say, "We are going to have wine and cheese at Julia Jones's house. Bring what you feel like contributing and come visit." (Pause in tape) . . . .. call this kind of a kitchen cabinet, and the most exciting thing we did was one year the nominating committee for the president of the bar had put out their nominations and we were not very happy. There had never been a woman; there had never been a minority. So our group did a campaign and almost got the first minority elected. I was not at the meeting because I was not on the committee, but I'll just say that the next year our candidate won, and the next year there was a woman. We worked very hard for that. Kathy Thompson was the first woman president of the Mecklenberg County Bar and that was quite an accomplishment, and Nell Lott was the first African American. I think our little kitchen cabinet had quite a bit to do with that. We also encouraged women to run for other positions. I was on the state bar council and that was kind of an interesting event. In the past, the nominating committee for the local bar nominated bar councils just like everything else. So, we again were working with that nominating committee - this was all about the same time - because I wanted to be on the state bar council which regulates lawyers conduct. So, just about the time we were lobbying the committee, the state law changed and it was self nomination, and it was all different. In any event, I self nominated and was fortunate enough in 1986 to be in the first class that had any minorities or women. It turned out a real good friend of mine from law school, who lived in Winston, got elected. Then there was a Black woman from Raleigh. So, we were the first three women. There were two other Black men I believe that year, and I'll always remember that the President got up and said, "Well, we've had a change of complexion in our group." And I just about fell out. I just said, "Okay, we'll weather this out." I did serve and that was one of the things that had meant a lot to me, is serving on the state bar council particularly as one of the first women. I was on the council from `86 until I went on the bench in `91, and judicial standards prohibit judges from being on the council. That's a whole other subject for another day.