Born in 1932 in
Butler County, Alabama, Janie Ledlow Shores became a trailblazer for women in
legal professions in Alabama and beyond.
Shores attended Judson College from 1954-1956, earning pre-law credits
before entering the Law School at the University of Alabama, where she joined a
cohort with only four other female students. While a student there, she put her
short hand skills to use by taking down every word spoken by her law
professors. The “Janie Shores notes” were
legendary at the law school. For years
after she graduated, countless students insisted they succeeded because they
relied on her notes. She served as
editor of the Alabama Law Review and graduated with honors in 1959. Shores then
entered professional and courtroom environments in a state where women were not
permitted to serve on juries until 1966.
After a few years of private practice in
Selma and as a staff attorney with Liberty National Life Insurance Company, in
1965 Shores became the first female law school professor in the state of
Alabama and one of the first in the South when she became a professor at Cumberland
School of Law at Samford University. In 1974,
she became the first woman elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, where she
served for the next 25 years. She was the first woman ever elected to any
appellate judicial post in the United States.
In 1993, her friend and U.S. Senator Howell Heflin recommended her to
President Bill Clinton for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, a seat that
would ultimately be filled by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Clinton appointed
Shores to the State Justice Institute, a private nonprofit entity focused on
improving the administration and quality of state courts.
announced her retirement from the Alabama Supreme Court in 1998, leaving the
bench and a remarkable judicial legacy in 1999. "During the time she served
on the Court," Heflin said, "Janie never lost sight of the fact that
she should eliminate barriers to equal opportunity for women." Shores
accomplished much toward eliminating those barriers in her career, but she also
took time to encourage and inspire young women in other ways.
committed to preserving the stories of Alabama women as a long-time board
member of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame, housed on the Judson College
campus. In a 1997 commencement address at Judson College, Shores reminded
graduates of their opportunity and great responsibility to "make the world
a better place.” “You are understandably
nervous about taking this next step in your life, but you are more ready than
you may think you are," said Shores. "If you need inspiration to
tackle the problems of our world,” Shores said, referencing the Hall of Fame,
“inspiration is available right here on the Judson campus…. There, you’ll find
inspiration from those who came before you."
at her home in Baldwin County on August 9, 2017.