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Women in the Law

Trailblazing women made white-collar crime an important field of study

Posted Apr 4, 2013 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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When Sara Sun Beale attended the University of Michigan law school, only about 10 percent of her class was made up of women. After graduation, she was the second woman to work in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.

Now a law professor at Duke University, she is among several notable female academics who have made white-collar crime an important field of study, the New York Times DealBook blog reports in a story by Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning.

“It’s still a man’s world in many sectors of the legal profession, as it is in much of corporate America,” the story says. “It’s true for prosecutors, for white-collar defense partners at major firms and in executive suites. But when it comes to researching and being an authoritative voice of study about white-collar crime, women are taking the lead.”

These women began teaching when white-collar crime was not considered an important field of study. “They set the standard,” the story says, “and their influence on the white-collar bar continues to be significant.”

The group of notable women includes Kathleen Brickey of Washington University in St. Louis, who wrote the first law school textbook on white-collar crime. The story also lists these academic leaders: Sandra Jordan of the Charlotte School of Law, Julie Rose O’Sullivan of Georgetown, Pamela Bucy Pierson of the University of Alabama, and Ellen Podgor of Stetson University.

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