Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 38

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Elizabeth Langer

Trades Legal Briefs for Canvas
By John Murph
pursue her interest in art
because people could
perceive it as unprofessional.
She worried that once clients
found out, they would fire
her. But to her surprise, they
encouraged her.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Langer

"I think certain kinds of
lawyers draw certain kinds of
clients," Langer says in an
interview with Washington
Lawyer inside her apartment
in New York City's Upper
West Side where she lives
with her husband, New York
Law School professor Richard
Chused. "Nasty lawyers draw
nasty clients. Lawyers who
are more interested in taking
care of people who may not
have a lot of money to spend
on legal fees draw clients
who are more interested in
reasonable solutions."

You mean, you have a life?"
That was the response
Elizabeth Langer received from one
of her clients when, with great trepidation, she explained that she wasn't
available on Thursdays because of
her weekly art classes at the Corcoran
School of the Arts and Design in
Washington, D.C.
In the early 1990s, Langer had her own private
practice in the District focused on representing
women in domestic abuse cases. Langer recalls
feeling anxious about taking off Thursdays to

38 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

JUNE 2020

At the Corcoran, Langer
studied under noted painter,
sculptor, and photographer
William Christenberry.
Unbeknownst to her at the
time, Christenberry served as a juror in Langer's
first jury trial in the early 1990s. Christenberry's
classes at the Corcoran were so popular that it
took Langer several attempts before she could
enroll. She remembers how unprepared she
was on her first day of class.
"I showed up in class in my courtroom suit with
my handbag and everything. Everyone else in
class just looked at me," Langer laughs. "They
were all wearing jeans. There was oil paint and
charcoal everywhere. [Christenberry] looked
at me and said, 'You can't really come to class
dressed like that.'"
Langer excelled in Christenberry's drawing and
painting classes. Some of her earlier works hang in
her apartment, which doubles as a private gallery
for a few of her oil, charcoal, and acrylic paintings;

abstract collages; and paper lithographs. Her
works have been exhibited in numerous places in
New York City, including the Manhattan Graphics
Center, the Blackburn 20/20 gallery, the Montclair
Public Library, and the Jewish Institute of Religion's
Bernard Heller Museum.
In 2004, Langer's husband, then a professor at
Georgetown University Law Center, received
a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship grant to
teach at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for
five months. Traveling with him to Israel gave
Langer the perfect opportunity to take a sabbatical and concentrate on art. But once there,
Langer started thinking about dissolving her
private practice. "I was ready for another
chapter," she says.
When they returned to the United States,
Langer briefly did some trial work. She officially
left Washington, D.C., in 2008 when her husband
took a job at New York Law School. Langer's
original plan was to dedicate a year solely to art,
with the option of opening a law office in New
York as a safety net.

'WE WERE TROUBLEMAKERS'
Langer has always been a New Yorker at heart.
She grew up in Greenwich Village, then at age
six she moved with her family to Great Neck,
New York, a Long Island suburb. Her father,
Sydney Langer, was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Her mother, Nikki Langer, was a psychology professor, an accomplished musician,
and early feminist (at Hofstra University, she
started the school's first women's studies
program). Perhaps it was Langer's mother who
inspired her to become an activist herself.
In March 2020, during her speech at Rutgers
Law School celebrating the 50th anniversary
of the Women's Rights Law Reporter, of which she
was the first editor-in-chief, Langer revealed
that she originally wanted to be a doctor.
She applied to Boston University's pre-med
program in 1963 but encountered sexism. Even
though the senior male faculty members were
impressed by her grades and SAT scores, they
dissuaded her from enrolling during the interview process. "The admissions office firmly
believed that women applied to medical school
primarily to find husbands," Langer told the
audience. "My interviewer cited the impressive
costs of a medical school education and concluded that the time and money that could
continued on page 41



Washington Lawyer - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - June 2020

YOUR VOICE
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
ON FURTHER REVIEW
THE LEARNING CURVE
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - YOUR VOICE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE LEARNING CURVE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 48
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover4
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com