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1985_09_01--142_SP Her Honor Rancher's Daughter

44 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST September '85 Sandra Day not only finished third in her class at Stanford Law School but first in the heart of John Jay O'Connor, whom she met there. Says she, "He's kept me laughing for 30 years." own or possibly of running the Lazy B with her family. Then, in her senior year, she took a law course—and the die was cast. She entered Stanford Law School as a full-time student. In six years (instead of the usual seven) she graduated from both college and law school (third in her class in the latter) and met her future husband, John Jay O'Connor. By 1952, Sandra Day, 22 years old, was looking forward to getting married and practicing law in California. Only one problem stood in her way: She couldn't find a job. It was not for lack of qualifications, poise or ambition, but rather that no law firms were interested in hiring a woman. As a lawyer, she did receive one offer for a position as a legal secretary. (Ironically, one firm that turned her down, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, subsequently had a partner by the name of William French Smith. Twenty-nine years later, as attorney general of the United States, he contacted Sandra Day O'Connor about. . .a possible opening in the Supreme Court!) Not disheartened, she succeeded in getting work as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo, California—her first opportunity to work in the public sector. "It was a wonderful job," she remembers. "I think that in public employment one often gets more responsibility earlier than one does in the private sector. It influenced the balance of my life because it demonstrated how much I did enjoy public service." The job, however, was a short-term affair. Soon after her newlywed husband graduated from law school, he was drafted to serve as an army lawyer in Frankfurt, Germany. Sandra Day O'Connor gave up her position and followed her husband to Frankfurt, where she again entered public service as a civilian lawyer for the Quartermaster's Corps. Not until 1957, when the couple moved back to the States and settled in Phoenix, Arizona, did the young lawyer try private practice. Again unable to find an opening in a law firm, she this time started her own firm with a partner. Of her private practice, the justice says, "We did whatever business we could get to come our way. We had a diverse, small-town type of practice. We took landlord-tenant, domestic, small-business and even criminal appointments on occasion to help pay the rent. It was very challenging because I lacked the experience in those days to handle a broad range of problems." At the same time, John and Sandra O'Connor were starting their family. In six years they had three sons, Scott, Brian and Jay, each two years apart. Although she managed to continue working in her law practice after her first son was born, the young mother decided to stop working for a time after the arrival of her second son. "It's not easy to work when you have smaller children at home to take care of," she says. "I actually stopped work for about five years and stayed home with the children when they were really small. During those years, I did continue to do some


1985_09_01--142_SP Her Honor Rancher's Daughter
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