Making ‘RBG,’ the Documentary About Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Audio)

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  • After Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959, tied for first in her class, she could not get a job as an associate in big law. As her classmate Professor Arthur R. Miller tells it, a partner at a prestigious firm was told about the brightest student in his class but, when her gender was mentioned, the partner wouldn’t even consider her.

    Which law firm? Miller isn’t saying.

    “He wouldn’t name the New York firm. It was our impression that it was a big name law firm in New York who’s name might still ring a bell,” Julie Cohen, co-director of a new documentary about Justice Ginsburg, told Big Law Business’s Josh Block.

    Big law may not have been part of Ginsburg’s path, but not practicing at a law firm clearly did not impede her professional progress.

    It is well known that Justice Ginsburg became the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Her pop culture bona fides, established after her famous dissenting opinions, include a recurring segment on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, and memes including the play on the name of rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. However, less well known is the path Ruth Bader Ginsburg took, including her years as as a lawyer, arguing six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five of them.

    In January 2015, filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West had the idea of filling in those gaps by making a feature documentary about Ginsburg. Their film, “RBG,” was released in select theaters today. In this podcast interview with the directors, they tell Block about Justice Ginsburg and their experience making the film.

    More information:

    In This Story: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg (March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020) was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death in 2020.

    She was nominated by President Bill Clinton and was generally viewed as a moderate judge who was a consensus builder at the time of her nomination.

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