Retired Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice and ABF Visionary Fellow Miriam Shearing almost didn’t apply for law school. Thank goodness she did, setting the stage for a trailblazing legal career that broke down barriers for women at every level of the Nevada judiciary system. Justice Shearing has supported the American Bar Foundation since 1998, serving at various times as a Nevada state chair, chair of the Fellows Advisory Research Committee, and member of the ABF Council of Advisors. The Cornell University and Boston College Law School alumnus has also lent her expertise to the ABA Section of Litigation, as well as to the Municipal and District Courts of Nevada.
What does being a Fellow mean to you?
I have been richly rewarded by being able to serve for many years on the ABF Research Advisory Committee, where I was privileged to hear reports from most of our talented researchers and learn what is happening in so many aspects of law and society.
Where were you born and raised?
Spencer, New York (a small town near Ithaca)
Why did you decide to pursue a career in law?
I had trouble getting a job after my Cornell degree in philosophy and I couldn’t type, so when my husband decided to go to medical school, I tried for a profession. I applied to law school just because I had all the prerequisites. As soon as I started, I realized that is where I should have been all along; I loved it. (I grew up in a small town where there were no lawyers, and I don’t think I ever even talked to a lawyer before law school, so I never considered it as a career.)
If you hadn’t pursued a career in law, what would you have done?
Once I discovered law, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What do you do in your free time?
Read, although I am also involved in a number of local non-profit organizations.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I was the first woman at every level of the courts in Nevada, even though I was told, “Women don’t belong in the courtroom!” when I first applied for a position in a Justice Court. I retired as Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court in 2005.