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In Memoriam: Barbara Babcock

This LibGuide was created in honor of Prof. Barbara Babcock

Barbara's Work and Legacy

“Barbara was not simply someone who left an enormously significant public mark, she was someone who was beloved by our students in a way most of us could only dream of.” (Jenny Martinez, the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School, quoted in Stanford Lawyer.)

On this page, we've collected some of Barbara Babcock's accomplishments and work, from authoring the second casebook ever on sex discrimination, to earning multiple honors for her teaching, to being featured in the ABA's Woman Trailblazers in the Law project. We hope we've managed to convey even a fraction of the enormous impact that this remarkable woman left on Stanford Law School and the world. 


Barbara Babcock received many honors for her work, including:

  • Northern California Women in Leadership Award at a conference sponsored by The Daily Journal.
  • The John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching - four times! Each year's Hurlbut Award recipient is chosen by a vote of the graduating class of Stanford Law School. 
  • The Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, a lifetime achievement award presented by the ABA to "women lawyers who have excelled in their field and have paved the way to success for other women lawyers."
  • The Society of American Law Teachers Award for Distinguished Teaching and Service - now called the Great Teacher Award - presented to "individuals or institutions that have made especially important contributions to teaching, legal education, and mentoring."
  • Honorary degrees from the University of Puget Sound School of Law and the University of San Diego School of Law.



Barbara Babcock delivers the 2018 Annual Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law to the New York City Bar Association.

Barbara Babcock was a panelist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2016 Living Ideas Art and Community Dialogue Series, discussing "What if Roe v. Wade were argued today?"

On April 30, 2015, The Stanford Law School San Francisco Law Chapter hosted alumni and guests to a very special evening in conversation with friends and former colleagues Professor Barbara Babcock and The Honorable Thelton Henderson. In this video, Professor Barbara Babcock reflects on her role in the women's movement.

Barbara Babcock speaks in 2011 at the U.C. Davis School of Law, discussing her book Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz.

Barbara Babcock presents the 2007 Max M. Shapiro Lecture at Boston University School of Law, telling the story of Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first woman to practice law in California and the first to propose a public defender system in which the government pays for the defense of the accused who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

Barbara Babcock was interviewed by LaDoris Cordell for the ABA's Women Trailblazers in the Law Project in 2006 and 2007. An edited video of the interview can be found here, and a transcript, along with a biography and photo gallery, can be found here


Fish Raincoats: A Woman Lawyer's Life

The life and times of a trailblazing feminist in American law. The first female Stanford law professor was also first director of the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, one of the first women to be an Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and the biographer of California's first woman lawyer, Clara Foltz. Survivor, pioneer, leader, and fervent defender of the powerless and colorful mobsters alike, Barbara Babcock led by example and by the written word--and recounts her part of history in this candid and personal memoir. 

Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz

Woman Lawyer tells the story of Clara Foltz, the first woman admitted to the California Bar. Famous in her time as a public intellectual, leader of the women's movement, and legal reformer, Foltz faced terrific prejudice and well-organized opposition to women lawyers as she tried cases in front of all-male juries, raised five children as a single mother, and stumped for political candidates. She was the first to propose the creation of a public defender to balance the public prosecutor. Woman Lawyer uncovers the legal reforms and societal contributions of a woman celebrated in her day, but lost to history until now. It casts new light on the turbulent history and politics of California in a period of phenomenal growth and highlights the interconnection of the suffragists and other movements for civil rights and legal reforms.

Sex Discrimination and the Law

When first published in 1975, Sex Discrimination and the Law was only the second casebook of its kind, based on material the authors used when teaching the first Women and the Law classes at their schools (Barbara Babcock taught Georgetown Law's first Women and the Law class, in the fall of 1970). Now in its second edition, it provides coverage of feminist litigation and legislation, contextualizing the subject with feminist legal theory, historical background, insights from other disciplines, and considerations of the different - and similar - experiences of women of different races, ethnicities, classes, and sexual orientations.

Civil Procedure

With lightly-edited cases, both classic and contemporary, and engaging hypothetical problems, the sixth edition of Civil Procedure: Cases and Problems promotes the analysis and understanding of both governing procedural rules and underlying doctrinal complexities. The casebook also emphasizes the social and economic contexts animating modern procedural problems and reforms as well as the constitutional dynamics underlying federal jurisdiction.

Selected Other Publications

Book Chapters

Defending the Guilty After Thirty Years in How Can You Represent Those People? (eds. Abbe Smith and Monroe H. Freedman, 2013).

Inventing the Public Defender, in Noble Purposes (Norman Gross ed., 2007)

In Defense of the Criminal Jury, in Postmortem: the O.J. Simpson Case (Jeffrey Abramson ed., 1996).

Reconstructing the Person: The Case of Clara Shortridge Foltzin Revealing Lives: Autobiography, Biography and Gender (Susan Groag Bell and Marilyn Yalom eds., 1990).


Alma Mater: Clara Foltz and Hastings College of the Law, 21 Hastings Women’s Law Journal 99 (2010)

Inventing the Public Defender, 43 American Crim. L. Rev. 1267 (2006).

The Duty to Defend, 114 Yale Law Journal 1489 (2005) 

Lefstein to the Defense, 36 Indiana Law Review 13 (2003) 

 A Real Revolution, 49 Kansas Law Review 719 (2001) 

Women Defenders in the West, 1 Nevada Law Review 1 (2001)

Feminist Lawyers, 50 Stanford Law Review 1689 (1998) (book review).

Clara Shortridge Foltz: "First Woman", 28 Valparaiso Law Review 1291 (1994) (reprint of an article previously published in 30 Arizona Law Review 673 (1988)).

A Place in the Palladium: Women’s Rights and Jury Service, 61 Cincinnati Law Review 1139 (1993). 

Taking the Stand, 35 William and Mary Law Review 1 (1993). 

Western Women Lawyers, 45 Stanford Law Review 2179 (1993)

Clara Shortridge Foltz: Constitution-Maker, 66 Indiana Law Review 849 (1991). 

Defending the Government, 23 John Marshall Law Review 2 (1990).

Defending the Guilty, 32 Cleveland State Law Review 175 (1983-84). 

Fair Play: Evidence Favorable to an Accused and Effective Assistance of Counsel, 34 Stanford Law Review 1133 (1982) (link requires Stanford login). 

Gary Gilmore’s Lawyers: The Executioner's Song, 32 Stanford Law Review 865 (1980) (book review) (link requires Stanford login). 

Voir Dire: Preserving "Its Wonderful Power", 27 Stanford Law Review 545 (1975) (link requires Stanford login). 

Other Media

Women's Legal History Biography Project, a searchable database of articles and papers on pioneering women lawyers in the United States compiled in collaboration with the Robert Crown Law Library.

Barbara Babcock in The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law, ed. Roger K. Newman (Yale University Press, 2009).

Public Defender Movement: A Reminder of Justice Denied, San Jose Mercury News, February 26, 2006, at OP2.

Hiibel Revisited: Apocalyptic Constitutional Moment Ahead, Slate (March 10, 2004). 

Preserving the Jury’s Privacy, New York Times, July 24, 2002, at A19.

Pioneer Attorney’s Feminism Ennobled Her Legal Efforts, Los Angeles Daily Journal, Feb. 8, 2002, at 6.

Barbara Babcock Papers