Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Honorable Rebecca Duncan Inspires New Admittees

by Katharine M. Lozano

On October 26, 2010, the Mary Leonard Law Society held its fifth annual luncheon to welcome new admittees to the bar, at Alessandro’s in Salem. Naegeli Reporting Corporation co-sponsored the event.

The Honorable Rebecca Duncan, newest member of the Oregon Court of Appeals, and former trial attorney, appellate attorney, and Assistant Chief Defender and Deputy Defender, Office of Public Defense Services - Appellate Division, spoke at the luncheon. She offered the new admittees both congratulations and a challenge. Judge Duncan urged, “We are the heirs to a very rich inheritance, but it is not ours to spend; it is ours to invest.” She shared the history of her farming family and her own personal experiences, recalling the limited career choices available to her mother and aunts, which she contrasted with her own childhood ambitions to pursue a legal career, a profession that “no one ever suggested wasn’t an option for me.” Expressing gratitude for the encouragement and support offered by her parents’ generation, and noting the encouragement and support available to the new Oregon admittees from the more seasoned practitioners in the room, Judge Duncan described what the practice of law has meant to her – a double-sided gift of opportunity and obligation.

She highlighted the opportunities in the practice of law to satisfy intellectual curiosity, enjoy exposure to new ideas, surround ourselves with bright and dedicated professionals, connect to our clients on an individual basis, and explore a wide breadth of issues and topics. Judge Duncan explained, “We in the room are winners of global lottery.” She then challenged the new admittees to live up the obligations of their professional inheritance by finding legal work they love, merging their values with their talents, connecting to our legal community, and enriching themselves while simultaneously helping members of the public.

Another inspirational feature of our new admittee luncheon was the announcement of the winner of the second annual Mary Leonard Law Society Essay Contest. The essay contest is held for incoming1L students at the Willamette University College of Law and this year’s winner was Kelly Huedepohl, an Iowa native with a background in political science and economics. The theme of this year’s essay contest was the failure of the “pipeline theory,” which incorrectly predicted that increased numbers of women entering the legal profession would result in increased numbers of women in senior leadership positions. Ms. Huedepohl’s essay addressed the issue from an economic perspective.

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