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Heels of Justice

Jun 17, 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.

Today, the Heels of Justice interview Claire Conner McCaskill who served as a United States Senator from Missouri from 2007 to 2019. She graduated from the University of Missouri and the University of Missouri School of Law. She was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and was the second female U.S. Senator from Missouri and the first female candidate to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri.

She is a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC and a visiting fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.


Key Takeaways

[1:32] Sarita welcomes Claire McCaskill to the Heels of Justice and asks her what drew her to the Law and when she knew she wanted to run for office.

[4:36] Claire shares how prosecuting arson cases became a way to independence within a restricting firm and how her time in the courtroom more than anything in her career, helped be a better senator — she explains why that is.

[8:03] Even people she tried to put in jail supported her bid for office! Sarita asks why she thinks that is.

[10:06] Claire explains her two proudest moments as the first woman head prosecutor elected for Jackson county: drug courts and the domestic violence unit.

[12:18] What my mother does during the day? Claire shares a hilarious story of how kids can ground you.

[14:21] Claire had always done law as a road to politics, and all of her moves have been strategic in terms of bettering her chances at office — she shares the most important of those.

[17:01] Once in the Capitol, Claire’s law background became a key asset as well as how to avoid being slotted as the ditzy blonde from Kansas City (keep in mind the incredible chauvinistic attitudes of the times!)

[19:09] Did you bring your knee pads? The chilling account of what she was told when Claire asked how to pass a bill.

[21:49] The former Senator shares the different strategies she used over the course of her career to protect herself and fight against gender inequities.

[24:18] “I thought the world had ended.” Claire explains what she learned from her 2004 Governor position loss and how taking risks is absolutely essential.

[28:14] How are deals made in the Senate? Claire digs into the nature and importance of negotiation, courage and compromise in running a country.

[30:00] Some fun moments and momentous moments from her time in the senate (Happy birthday on Air Force One anyone?)

[32:28] The formidable women who have gotten to the United States Senate should not be messed with — it is no ordinary task they’ve accomplished.

[34:33] Sarita asks how people can support female candidates? Money talks and Claire shares the blouse story — Women have been socialized to see money as security whereas men have been taught it is power.

[37:16] Claire talks about the hope she has for the future of this country by way of History and constant vigilance. We do not have the luxury of turning ourselves off to the real problems facing our most vulnerable people — get over yourselves everybody.

[39:06] Claire has been through so much, and she shares her insight on how to get through it all in the spotlight: get perspective on how blessed you really are. She shares her mantra.

[41:46] To advocate for yourself, you have to be willing to! Claire redefines the “L” word… What is ladylike and how can we avoid her mistakes?

[44:45]  Sarita thanks Claire McCaskill for sharing so much of her stories and expertise 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.

You can also follow us on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

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.


More about the Heels of Justice hosts 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


More about our guest

Claire McCaskill on the web

Claire McCaskill’s website

Claire McCaskill on Facebook

Claire McCaskill on Twitter

Claire McCaskill on YouTube

Claire McCaskill on Instagram

Claire McCaskill on Medium

Claire McCaskill on Flickr


Mentioned in this episode

Plenty Ladylike, by Claire McCaskill

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, by Robert A. Caro

Pamela Harris

Amy Klobuchar

Nancy Pelosi

Barack Obama

John McCain


Personal stories (edited)

“As a very young lawyer, I was the only woman in the office and so I was desperately trying to get out of handling what they naturally wanted to give me, which was first the low-level crime stuff like welfare fraud and burglaries. I wanted to get into major crimes. A government grant came along for arson prosecution, and I pitched the boss that I would be good at that. This resulted in two things: 1. gave me a raise, and B. gave me control over when I would go to a courtroom, because the terms of the grant stated the trainee would make all of the charging decisions.”