top of page
  • ui7-news

Trenching through law grounds: Professor Pahre’s pioneering path as a woman in law

By Diana Anghel

When Jennifer Pahre was an undergraduate student in the early 1980s at Stanford, the doors of the law industry had just barely been cracked open for women. After her father decided to pursue his law degree, she listened when he’d get home and speak on the things he learned.

“It intrigued me, and I thought, ‘well, maybe I should see if that’s a reasonable choice,” Pahre said.

The match that lit the fire continued with Pahre graduating with a JD degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, being admitted to the state bars of California, Michigan, and Illinois, and practicing law in all three states.

She has been with the University of Illinois since 2001, teaching courses in insurance law, constitutional law, expert witness work, remedies and evidence. She also oversaw the Legal Externship Program, a program that helps law students to get placed in national and local offices of attorneys and judges. She saw this program as very worthy and took it as an opportunity to help students along their educational journey.

But the way to Champaign-Urbana, where she raised two sons, wasn’t one free from obstacles. At the time when she was developing her career as an attorney, there weren’t a lot of women role models to look up to, she said.

“I think being a professional woman has unique challenges,” Pahre said. “If you want to have a family, if you want to bear children, you have to find a way to do that while still managing a busy career. That was always the biggest challenge: making sure that the children were taken care of, but also not neglecting the clients whose needs I was ethically and morally obligated to fulfill to the best of my ability.”

Pahre saw a time that was filled with hostility towards women in the courtroom. She describes many occasions in which she was one of two women in the court: her and the court reporter. Oftentimes, she would get mistaken as the reporter.

“There were moments when it was a little tricky to navigate the hostility because you don't want the things you say to adversely affect your clients interests, so I learned to just pretend that these things didn’t get said and advocate for my client to the best of my ability,” she said. “Being focused on the work was the answer to most of these moments.”

And though times have changed since then for women in law, the current generation of incoming women lawyers have witnessed quite the turbulent political atmosphere in the U.S., with Supreme Court decisions that directly impact their personal lives.

Pahre says that the determination and adverse backgrounds of her students inspire her.

“They want the world to be better, to be fair and to be more equitable, and they’re quite determined to get there,” she said.

138 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page