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Mother-at-Law: Cravath’s First Woman Partner

Friendly reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you haven’t done so already, you should buy your cards or gifts — and make your brunch reservations — NOW.

In honor of this occasion, we bring you an interview with a working mother whose professional journey is nothing short of remarkable. She went from working as a law firm switchboard operator to becoming the first woman partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore….

Meet Christine Beshar, currently senior counsel in Cravath’s trusts and estates department. In 1971, she became the firm’s first woman partner. Interestingly enough, she never went to law school; instead, she “read for the bar” and then passed the exam. She tells her story in this interesting interview with the help of her son, Peter Beshar (who’s now the general counsel at Marsh & McClennan, a leading insurance brokerage):

Don’t you just love how Beshar pronounces “Cravath”? “Craaavaaath” — her accent is wonderfully plummy. If someone makes a movie about her life, she should be played by Frances Sternhagen.

Her tale certainly has the inspirational aspects of a biopic. Beshar went from being a switchboard operator to a librarian to a lawyer to a partner — at Cravath, one of the world’s preeminent law firms. And the story of how she pushed the firm to establish a day care facility — over the objections of one unnamed male partner, who later came to regret his opposition — sounds extremely cinematic.

Congratulations to Christine Beshar on all of her amazing accomplishments. And early wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother-at-Law: Cravath’s First Woman Partner [Bloomberg Law via YouTube]

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