Professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg of Rutgers Law School
A treatise on Swedish civil procedure, a law school textbook, a new journal for law student writers—such accomplishments might seem important only in the cloistered world of law professors. In fact, they were some of the first ways that Ruth Bader Ginsburg began to change the law.
As a law professor, Ginsburg led the creation of the field of women’s studies in law. Her first step in doing so took her to Sweden.
She graduated from Columbia Law School, first in her class, in 1959. After she clerked for a federal district judge, she was hired by Columbia for an international law project. In conjunction with a Swedish scholar, she wrote “Civil Procedure in Sweden,” published in 1965 by a Dutch academic press (Martinus Nijhoff). To study Swedish law, Ginsburg learned Swedish.
One reviewer, in the Kentucky Law Journal (pdf), found the book “so well written that it makes not only profitable, instructive, at times even revealing reading, but … also interesting. Certainly, one does not expect this kind of book in the field of civil procedure.” Other reviewers liked the Swedish book, too, and it’s still cited by courts and scholars today.
As part of the research, professor Ginsburg traveled to Sweden. There, she was inspired to see that 20 to 25 percent of law students were women.
While the Swedish book was in progress, she was hired by Rutgers Law School in 1963 to teach civil procedure. As a scholar, judge, and justice, she would become renowned for the clarity of her explanations of complex questions in civil procedure.
The law school tenure standard of the time was writing two law review articles. Hers, both on civil procedure, appeared in the Harvard and Columbia law reviews.
A Needed Textbook
Professor Ginsburg’s second book aimed to do more than make Swedish law accessible to English-re
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