"I never thought of it as being a particularly big challenge for a woman. My dad never told me I couldn't or shouldn't be a lawyer. His encouragement was reinforced by my professors at Bucknell."

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Marianne Lavelle '55 has had a lot to celebrate this year with the 50th anniversaries of both her marriage and her career. On June 13, Lavelle was honored by her Carbon County (Pa.) bar colleagues for 50 years of service. She was the first woman to join the county's bar in 1959 and continued to be the sole practicing female attorney there for the next 20 years.

"I never thought of it as being a particularly big challenge for a woman. My dad never told me I couldn't or shouldn't be a lawyer," says Lavelle. "His encouragement was reinforced by my professors at Bucknell."

At Bucknell, Lavelle found "fertile grounds" for her developing mind. Her professors encouraged her interests not only in her English and math majors, but also in debating and political science."No one ever told me I couldn't do that because I was a woman. I was given equal importance to the men," she says of her time at Bucknell.

She was a member of Debating Club, Cap and Dagger, the Dance Company, The Bucknellian and the Politics Club, among others.

She went on to Villanova Law School, where she met her husband, John. Upon graduation the couple married and joined her father's law firm, Shutack, Lavelle and Lavelle, where Marianne still practices today. During his career, John became the Carbon County president judge, which meant she couldn't try her cases in front of him. "I had to cart my clients to other counties for a few years," she says.

Balancing the law firm and pro bono work, Lavelle also made time for family. "In the process, I raised four children of whom I am very proud," she says.

Since leaving litigation behind her, Lavelle is inspired and motivated by her small county general practice. Work days also include quality time with her husband and youngest son, who both have joined her firm.

As for retirement? "Not at all," she says."My dad taught me one important thing — retirement should never be part of your vocabulary."

Posted Fall 2009

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