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Heels of Justice

Feb 15, 2019

Welcome to Heels of Justice; these are the stories of women lawyers who are trailblazers in their field and paved the way for the rest of us.

In this episode, Katherine talks to The Honorable Judge Diane Wood, the Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Wood is one of the most renowned federal judges in the country. She's also a pioneer in the field of an antitrust law, a University of Chicago law professor, a former Supreme Court law clerk, and a tireless champion of her own former clerks (including Katherine!).


Key Takeaways

[:32] Katherine opens this edition of Heels of Justice with a list of the three biases she has towards today’s guest and introduces Chief Judge Diane Wood.

[1:49] Judge Wood answers Katherine’s question as to why she thinks she is so inclined to build good mentoring relationships with her clerks.

[2:54] What path eventually brought Judge Wood to law, and how she remembers her experience of law school.

[6:55] Judge Diane Wood on her clerkship, the real number of applications she sent out, and the people who became lifelong friends.

[14:24] The barely believable story of Judge Wood having her second child while being the first woman on the faculty at Chicago University Law School, and all of the great advances the experience led to.

[20:05] What led Judge Wood to eventually become a pioneer of antitrust law?

[25:33] Would Judge Wood have any advice for her young self? And advice for herself back in law school?

[29:09] Judge Wood talks about the nominations for Supreme Court, the following disappointment, and overall positive side of the experience.

[33:19] Katherine asks if Judge Wood has a memory of advocating for herself she would share.

[36:07] Katherine thanks Chief Judge Diane Wood for participating on the Heels of Justice podcast, and she signs off until next time.

That’s it for this episode of Heels of Justice, if you like the stories we’re telling, please visit our website. You can join our mailing list, learn more about our guests and see what we have planned for the future.

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Disclaimer: The opinions you have heard are ours or our guest’s alone. They’re not the opinions of our employers, or our clients, or our bosses, and not our husbands, kids or pets or anyone else’s.


Mentioned in this episode (chronological order)

The University of Texas at Austin

Covington & Burling LLP Washington DC

The Friar Society at Texas University in Austin

Justice Harry Blackmun

Judith A. Miller

Justice Potter Stewart

Judge Susan E. Block

Justice Thurgood Marshall

Georgetown University Law Center

Office of the Legal Advisor of the U.S. Department of State

University of Chicago Law School

U.S. Department of Justice’s John S. Sherman Award

Sally Yates

Judge Kosinsky case

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Stephen Breyer


More about the Heels of Justice, Sarita Venkat and Katherine Minarik

Heels of Justice on the Web

Heels of Justice on Twitter

Heels of Justice on Instagram

Heels of Justice on Facebook


Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on Twitter

Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge


Judge Diane Wood’s personal stories (edited)

“The treatment of women students then — and I’m afraid to say as now — was still a problem in the classroom. So maybe the most extreme version of it was one professor I had — a very well known professor in his field — who had decided it was ungentlemanly to call on women, so he just never called on the women in the class. They complained to him, and so he decided ‘well I just won’t call on anyone!’ So he would introduce a topic in the class, and if no one raised their hand to stop him, he would move on to the next topic!”


“The due date of this second child was mid-September, and classes were going to start October first, so I was a little worried about this. I contacted [the Dean] and I said ‘I’m expecting this baby, this is when the baby is due, and I really need you to assign me to a class I’ve taught before because it’s going to be hard for me to prepare a new class.’ — I look back on that now and I think what an idiot! I should’ve just said to him I'm not available to teach during the fall, we need to come up with some arrangement, but I knew no limits — so he said fine. And then he called my husband and said, what are we going to do about this pregnancy problem?”


“My first exposure to antitrust law was at Covington & Burling when I was a summer associate. The assignment they gave me was to examine a particular case and try to figure out whether the client was going to be in any particular trouble with respect to attempts to monopolize, which is one type of antitrust violation. And the lawyer who gave me the assignment said “Oh! And by the way, nobody understands what attempts to monopolize really are.” HA! So I went to the library, and got a bunch of books and toiled away both with the law and with the record in this case, which had been up and down in the courts a couple of times, it was one of these old, ‘last-forever’ antitrust cases. I recall writing a giant 75-page memo for them, going through practice by practice, which ones I thought — according to the standard that I understood for attempts to monopolize — would be a problem.”


More about Judge Diane Wood

The American Law Institute

The New York Times


The Circuit Rider, December 2012