College Columns May 2015 Issue - Page 9

National Bankruptcy Archives

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your family. Call me back. Think about it.” And which I did and changed my mind.

I consider one of the most important actions of my career on the bench was when I "split a job" for two women on my staff. Since I was entitled to hire two law clerks as support staff for my judge’s position, I was able to keep two very capable women employed which enabled each of them to raise a family and enjoy some family time without losing their continuous employment in the careers that they loved. I did this by using one position and splitting the time that each of them attended to the work at court.

[One of the women was] Cathy Christensen. When Cathy started with me, it must have been about 20 years ago. We have a long relationship and a good one. I have the utmost respect for Cathy as a law clerk and as a person.

After she was married for a while, she came to me and said that she might have to leave. And I was rather distressed because I enjoyed having her as a law clerk at my side. And I said, “Why?” She said she either had become pregnant or was planning to become pregnant and was going to have a family, and that she could not work full-time.

At the same time, I had my secretary, Dawn, who had been with me while I was in private practice and came along when I entered the judgeship, and she’s really more than a secretary. She’s an administrator, able to do all kinds of reports, and aid everyone in chambers. And she too had been married during that time and was also contemplating starting a family. I wanted to keep both of them because they were very capable, and we worked well together. So I checked with the powers that tell me what I can and cannot do and found that a bankruptcy judge has two slots allocated for aid in chambers, and that as long as I filled those slots that would be it. So I decided to convert one slot to a shared position.

Each one was able to work part-time to accommodate their home needs and their personal needs, and it worked for me. I don’t know how many people could really do it. It worked because both of these people are outstanding, and their work on a shortened time schedule was comparable to people who take a full week to do the same work. You can do it with good people, and so many of us in bankruptcy now are females with additional home family obligations. I found it valuable, and I think they appreciated it a great deal.

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The NBA has seen an increase in activity and research, both remote and on-site at the University of Pennsylvania Biddle Law Library. For the latest additions to the NBA, visit the “News” section on the website: https://www.upenn.edu/library/archives/bankruptcy/news.php. The oral histories are available to you on the NBA website, www.law.upenn.edu/archives/bankruptcy/index.php. Inquiries about the NBA can be addressed to Leslie O’Neill, Archivist, loneil@upenn.edu or Archives Committee Co-Chairs Diane Sigmund at dianesig@comcast.net or Joyce Bihary at joyce.a.bihary@gmail.com.

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