The Women of 50 For 50: Courtney Caron
"I can't think of a better way of supporting our students, who are at the heart of the law school and the very reason for its existence, than by helping ease the financial burden and often substantial debt incurred by them in receiving a legal education."
Courtney Bryan-Caron is an attorney and a 1984 graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law. For most of her legal career, she was employed as a law clerk for the federal courts. For over 20 years, Courtney served as the Pro Se Law Clerk for the federal district court in Cincinnati, Ohio, while she and her husband, Caruso School of Law Dean Paul Caron, were raising their family there. Thanks to the miracle of technology, when Paul joined the Caruso Law faculty in 2013, she was able to continue working remotely for the Cincinnati federal district court. Courtney retired in June 2017 when Paul became dean so she could join him in his work serving the school's students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends. The Carons host nearly one hundred events at their home each year, including the weekly Bible study and dinners with first-year and admitted students in groups of 8-10.
What inspired you to become a partner in the 50 For 50 initiative?
I can't think of a better way of supporting our students, who are at the heart of the law school and the very reason for its existence, than by helping ease the financial burden and often substantial debt incurred by them in receiving a legal education. When I was in law school, the cost was nothing compared to what it is now, and I did not feel any financial constraints in making decisions about what career path to follow. The world is different now. Most students cannot afford to attend law school without taking on huge loans to cover their 3 years of legal training, debts that may well constrain them in their decision-making about their future careers.
Paul and I were specifically inspired to give to the initiative by our daughter's experience at NYU medical school where she and her classmates benefited from the school's generous donors who made it possible for the school to offer a tuition-free education to every student at the medical school. The decision to make the medical school tuition-free was done to counter the concern that medical school debt was "reshaping the medical profession," as graduates were opting to pursue more lucrative specialized fields in medicine rather than primary care.
Although we are unable to offer a tuition-free legal education at this point, by partnering in the 50 For 50 initiative we are hopeful that our donation, when combined with others' contributions, will at least relieve some of the constraints on students prohibiting them from pursuing careers of choice as opposed to financial necessity.
What were your experiences or challenges as a female law student and/or in your career?
Thankfully I did not experience challenges based on my gender while I was in law school. By the time I went to law school in the 1980s, the legal profession had become more accommodating to female attorneys. I know women who came before me in the profession had a very different experience. I am grateful to them for being trail-blazers. In my career, I was fortunate to have choices about the type of work/life balance that I wanted to have – which was to work part-time in a job-share position while raising our two children.
What kind of special or meaningful support or encouragement did you receive along the way?
I was fortunate to have parents who provided all of their children (male and female) with the best educational foundation. They supported and encouraged us all to pursue college degrees and whatever graduate professional goals we chose for ourselves. I was fortunate also to work closely with a female judge as her law clerk when starting out in the profession. I still consider her a mentor – she was down-to-earth, no airs, a mother of four, friendly, treated us all as equals, and one of the most brilliant people I've ever met.
The Pepperdine Caruso Law 50 For 50 Scholarship Campaign raises funds in order to alleviate the burden of student debt and to reinforce Pepperdine's place among America's leading law schools. Many of the campaign's founding partners are women, which reflects a nationwide increase of women in philanthropy. The Surf Report is featuring the female founding partners of the 50 For 50 campaign and what it means to them to support this special initiative.
Learn more about the 50 For 50 Scholarship Campaign.