Judge Phyllis Kravitch

Moving into Women’s History Month, I’m pleased to highlight Savannah native and trailblazer Judge Phyllis Kravitch. When I returned home to Savannah in 1996 to open my downtown law practice, I had the honor of meeting Judge Kravitch at a local Savannah Bar Association event. She was gracious, friendly, and though petite in stature, she held a big presence. Throughout her career, Judge Kravitch showed sheer resilience and courage. She attended her father’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated second in her class in 1943. She struggled to find acceptance in the law field despite her academic success and was rejected for a clerkship with the justice of the U.S. Supreme Court because she was a woman. She was turned down for other federal clerkships, and law firms, because of her gender, and in at least one case, her Jewish faith. Unable to find other employment, Judge Kravitch returned to Savannah to practice in her father’s law firm. Despite the roadblocks she encountered, Judge Kravitch became the first female president of the Savannah Bar Association in 1975, the first female Superior Court Judge in Georgia in 1976, and the third female appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in 1979.