"If I’d like to do anything else in my life other than take care of my family, it would be to raise the consciousness of those who are forgetting about poor and middle class people.”
With more than 30 years of experience as an attorney, Marianne Koral Smythe ’63 has assumed many professional roles, including working at the prestigious national law firm of WilmerHale since 1993, being a tenured professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and doing a two and a half year stint as the Director of the Division of Investment Management of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Her career was recently recognized when she was selected one of the “Best Lawyers in America 2006.”
The reason behind her success is deceptively simple: Smythe brings to the table years of professional commitment. This quality has played an important role not only in her professional life, but also in her personal life. “When I came to Bucknell in 1959 from my home in Queens, N.Y., I didn’t know what to expect, and I was somewhat ill prepared for the experience. But Bucknell opened my eyes. I learned about the world beyond the Hudson and that not everyone was, or necessarily liked, a New Yorker,” recalls Smythe, whose nickname is Chickie.
“Bucknell changed my life. First, and most importantly, I met my husband, Bob ’63, at Bucknell. Second, even after 40 years, I recall the extraordinary quality of undergraduate instruction. I was exposed to some of the best teachers anyone could ever hope to have.”
Bob and Marianne married eight days after graduation. “Soon after, we joined the Peace Corps and went to Nigeria for two years. When we returned, Bob studied ecology at the University of North Carolina, and I studied, and then taught, law.”
After Chapel Hill, her path back to Washington was relatively direct. “I worked with dedicated people at the SEC, whose mission was to keep the markets fair and safe.” Joining WilmerHale was another career milestone. “I feel very lucky to be at this firm, with such fine lawyers like Lloyd Cutler and John Pickering, people who exemplify the best in their profession.”
Looking back on her career, Smythe says, “I’m not through yet, but neither do I feel I have any hills to climb. If I’d like to do anything else in my life other than take care of my family, it would be to raise the consciousness of those who are forgetting about poor and middle class people.”
Despite all the accolades and professional awards, Smythe says that by far the most important thing in her life — and what she is most proud of — is her family: her husband, two daughters, and four “adorable” grandchildren.
Posted Winter 2007