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Women Bisnow
March 6, 2008

Divorce Diva

This issue of Washington Women is presented by
Reznick Group:
"Building Business Value"


By Karin Tanabe for Bisnow on Business

Like Tammy Wynette, Marna Tucker is known for D-I-V-O-R-C-E, but the name partner at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell has been committed to civil and women’s rights since childhood. Growing up in segregated Houston, Tucker remembers reading history books with passages about the UN blacked out by The Minute Women, a right-wing women’s movement that associated the body with communism. She later attended the University of Texas, where she boycotted the town’s segregated movie theaters and, as president of a girls service organization, welcomed the first African‑American member.


The happily married divorce lawyer tells us her son Micah Baskir just created a mocumentary called Rock, Paper, Scissors.


“The first real revelation I had was working for the civil rights division of the DoJ while at Georgetown Law during the summer of 1964. I wanted to be a civil rights lawyer but they said it was too dangerous for women to go to the south and try cases with black lawyers,” says Tucker, the first female president of the DC Bar Association and the National Conference of Bar Presidents.

Tucker began her career in the public sector as acting director of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in California. “When I applied to be director, they hired a man immediately. It was the first time I realized there was something besides racial discrimination—gender discrimination.” Tucker went on to found the American Bar Association Women’s Caucus with Brooksley Born, formerly of Arnold & Porter. She was also a founding member of the National Women’s Law Center Board.


Tucker worked for the individual rights and responsibilities section of the ABA under Warren Christopher.  She believes the current generation of women will make strides that change the legal landscape: “Just like I saw the law of the land in the south change. That’s one reason why I’m a lawyer. We rely on a set of principles—mainly the Constitution—not guns and fists.”


With experience as an aide to antiwar activist and Congressman Al Lowenstein, Tucker initially brought discrimination cases to her law firm, taking a few divorce cases to help pay the bills. “I realized I could help change the laws—women were not doing very well in divorce cases. The property world used to go by title, no longer. I got to bring a lot of the first cases that changed that.”

Tucker represented Gloria Haft in her high-profile case against husband and Dart Drug owner Herbert Haft. “The case showed people that family law and business were very much interrelated,” says Tucker. “I have seen a new respect for the interest that spouses have in these companies because of how the law has changed.”

Currently, Tucker serves as the DC Circuit representative of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which makes politically neutral evaluations of federal judicial nominees, including Supreme Court justices.  In the role, Tucker interviewed Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito extensively. “You have to ask intrusive questions. Feeling the weight of the organization behind me made me feel a lot of responsibility but also a lot of confidence.”

Tucker says she learned during the Vietnam War to listen to her compass and stand up for what’s right. “Early on I asked myself, do I stand up or do I sit on the sidelines? It turns out I don’t like the sidelines.”

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