The law has always been a traditionally male-dominated profession. When Gonzaga University School of Law first began classes, it was with an all-male faculty and class; it was not until 1935 that the first ever Gonzaga University degree granted to a woman was earned by Helen Grigware at the School of Law. Women have made great strides towards equality in the legal profession, in 2010, a survey found that in the 200 largest law firms across the United States, only 6% have women in a Managing Partner or CEO role.
A First Female Managing Partner
This fact makes the rise of Jane Brown, Gonzaga Law class of 1995, all that more impressive. In the summer of 2012, the Inland Northwest law firm of Paine Hamblem named Brown as their first ever female managing partner.
Jane Brown first began working at Paine Hamblen as a Legal Assistant in 1990, and continued to work for the firm full-time while attending Gonzaga Law School. After graduation, Brown built a practice in a variety of litigation areas, including construction law, federal and state discrimination claims, and personal injury claims. Now, Brown works mainly in family law cases.
Never Lose Sight of Passion
Brown is modest about her success, though she does credit her role as a legal assistant before attending law school gave her unique perspective and experience that served her well as she built her practice.
In addition to her position at Paine Hamblen, a law firm with nearly 50 attorneys and offices in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Coeur d’Alene and Priest River, Brown dedicates time to the non-profit Raincoast Conservation, where she serves on the board of directors. “I never lost sight about what I was passionate about,” Brown says. “I’ve learned that whatever you want to do, as long as you do it well, there will always be a role for you.”
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