What RBG Taught Me

Three Naples lawyers reveal how the American icon inspired them

With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many women are sharing how her words and actions fortified them in their careers and personal lives. NI asked three women, all lawyers, to speak on how this force of a person, and champion of gender equality, positively impacted their paths.

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

 —Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“I met Justice Ginsburg in the early ’90s when she visited my constitutional law class while she was serving on the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Her strong and unwavering commitment to fight for the things she cared about is legendary. In today’s world, regardless of political beliefs, one can hope that many will be influenced by her suggestion to strive to lead others to your position through respect and civil discourse.”

—Jeanne L. Seewald, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP, Naples


“I love the advice RBG passed along that came from her mother-in-law on her wedding day. ‘In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.’ Justice Ginsburg stated that, ‘I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership nonpareil. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.’ If more people followed this advice, perhaps the divorce rates would decline. Regardless, there would be more civility in the world.”

—Beth T. Vogelsang, Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., Naples


“I was fortunate to meet Justice Ginsburg a few years back when she was in Naples to accept a Jewish Federation legal award and had my photo taken with her. I cherish that photo. She had a powerful personality in a little package. I have several quotes of hers that I like. The most compelling is her statement: ‘I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.’ It simply states what us women all think and wish for—to be seen as equals to all. My other favorite quote is: ‘It sometimes helps to be a little deaf…’ That advice has stood me in good stead. Not simply in dealing with my marriage, but in dealing with my colleagues.’ This speaks to me as someone who’s been a practicing trial lawyer for more than 35 years, when women were rare in the courtroom and in leadership roles. Being deaf allowed us to pick our battles, to know what comments to roll off our backs, and when to stand up and fight.”

—Sharon Hanlon, Esquire, Zelman & Hanlon, Naples

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