Book Review: Linda Hirshman’s “Sisters in Law”

Photo by Iñaki del Olmoon Unsplash

Linda Hirshman’s novel, “Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World,” follows the lives and careers of Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg. Although O’Connor and Ginsburg have drastically different political views and backgrounds, they both experienced many of the same obstacles in their legal careers.

Ginsburg’s educational career at Cornell and Columbia Law Schools was marked by discrimination based on her gender. She faced discrimination from a professor who asked the female law students to justify taking a man’s spot and from employers who told her they couldn’t hire female attorneys to preserve their firm’s reputation. 

Hirshman follows Ginsburg’s career as an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union where she advocated for women’s rights and gender equality in multiple Supreme Court cases. Her path to the Supreme Court is inspiring for women in the legal field and paved the way for women’s rights.

O’Connor’s career followed a different path. She attended Stanford University but had the same difficulties as Ginsburg when finding employment before becoming a judge and elected official in Arizona. Justice O’Connor is the first female Supreme Court Justice. Although she is not as vocal of a feminist as Ginsburg, Hirshman makes it clear that she played an important role in the fight for women’s rights and representation. 

This book is an enjoyable read because of its engaging writing style and important message. Hirshman does an excellent job of making court cases and the legal system easy to follow and understand for the reader. 

While reading, I learned a lot about different court cases that I was previously unaware of, which was interesting because it demonstrates the long fight for gender equality and the strategies employed to give legal protections to women. Through reading about O’Connor and Ginsburg’s contributions to the legal field and the struggles they endured, I gained a greater appreciation and respect for both women. Hirshman captures the distinct personalities of both Ginsburg and O’Connor while simultaneously connecting both of their careers to illustrate the broader picture of women’s rights and feminism’s impact on society.

I would recommend this book to everyone since I think this topic is important. In particular, I would recommend this book to pre-law students because it helped me gain a broader view of the legal field and gave me a stronger appreciation for the opportunities afforded to me because of Justices Ginsburg and O’Connor.


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