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Home / 2012 Women in the Law / Epstein continues to color outside the lines

Epstein continues to color outside the lines

Patricia Epstein, Bell, Moore & Richter SC

Law degree received from: Brooklyn Law School, 1989

Staff photo by Kevin Harnack

Patricia Epstein used to sit on the floor at Brooklyn Law School and color.

She only was 8, after all, accompanying her mother, Harriet Newman Cohen, who was earning her law degree in the 1970s while raising four children.

Inspired by her mother, several years later Epstein attended that same law school — sans crayons.

She now practices at Madison’s Bell, Moore & Richter SC, primarily defending physicians and other health-care professionals in medical malpractice cases. She hails from a family of many physicians, so Epstein was drawn to that practice area and enjoys closely working with her clients.

About a decade ago, Epstein started an informal networking group, Lawyer Moms. That name describes the two most important roles in Epstein’s life — not in that order.

Initially, it was just a few women meeting over lunch, but over time, they’ve grown to host gatherings of more than 40 attendees.

“Sisterhood is really big with me. I’m the youngest of four sisters, and I went to an all-women’s college [Bryn Mawr],” Epstein said. “It was very empowering and it’s really defined me and who I am.”

Though she’s enjoyed success in a male-dominated practice area — she’s never lost a medical malpractice trial — she’s also often mistaken for the court reporter.

“I’ve been condescended to as well,” she said. “Even recently, a male lawyer made a joke that he didn’t think I’d hear about. But I did. I was the only woman lawyer in a complex med-mal case, and he sent an email to another male lawyer in the case asking, ‘Whose lap would Patti sit on?’

“So I think women in the law have made great strides. But it’s still out there; we still have more work to do so there aren’t any more jokes like that.”

Madison lawyer Sarah Coyne of Quarles & Brady LLP said she recommends Epstein every chance she gets.

“It’s always better to have smart and competent opposing counsel,” Coyne said, “and I am honored to have battled it out with Patti on several medical staff matters, and even more honored to say that we emerged with a healthy respect for each other as lawyers, and our close friendship intact.”

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