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Conference focuses on increasing number of women in legal field, judicial system

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Multiple female judicial officials will take part in a day-long conference Monday focused on encouraging more women to become lawyers and judges.

The University of Charleston is hosting “When There Are Nine: A Day of Elevating Women.” The title references a quote from late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg regarding when there will be enough women serving on the nation’s highest court.

Justice Beth Walker (File)

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker will be joined by Kanawha County Circuit Judges Joanna Tabit and Tera Salango, as well as Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood. Walker, McCormack and Wood host a podcast focused on women in the justice system, and the three will tape an episode of “Lady Justice: Women of the Court” at 9 a.m.

“One of the issues that I am a little bit concerned about is the lack of women in leadership in government and in law in our state,” said Walker, the only female currently serving in a statewide elected position.

“Only about a third of our active in-state lawyers are women. With those numbers in mind, I’m always looking for opportunities to encourage young women at all levels to consider careers in law and the judiciary.”

Hallie Chillag, the director of the university’s honors college, said she wants students to learn about careers that they may not have considered.

“We’re able to expand their imagination beyond their prior experience to enable them to excel in professional environments,” she said. “You can’t be what you can’t see, and this type of offering really plants seeds of possibilities for our fantastic young people to excel.”

The event will also include multiple interactive sessions focused on the current landscape in the legal field, addressing discrimination and the modern work environment.

Students at other West Virginia universities can participate virtually by registering at https://www.ucwv.edu/event/when-there-are-nine-conference/.