Swarthmore Graduate Holly Maguigan Remembered for Championing Battered Women


Holly Maguigan in her office in Philadelphia in 1981, working as a criminal defense attorney.
Image via the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries.
Holly Maguigan is being remembered for creating the legal tools that help women defend against abusive partners.

Holly Maguigan, a law professor who revolutionized legal tools to help women defend against abusive partners, died Nov. 15. She was 78, writes Clay Risen for The New York Times.

Ms. Maguigan, who earned a history degree in 1966 from Swarthmore College, started practicing law in the early 1970s when women with physically abusive partners saw virtually no help from the criminal justice system.

She campaigned to equalize the law for battered women. 

She connected lawyers with psychologists and other experts, took on cases herself, and wrote influential law review articles on self-defense law.

“It was trailblazing, and it had an impact. It forced people to realize that there were legitimate self-defense claims,” said Steve Zeidman, a professor at the City University of New York School of Law who taught with Ms. Maguigan.

Holly Maguigan got into law after being active in the antiwar, feminist, and civil rights movements.

She earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1972 and joined the Philadelphia Public Defender’s office before going into private practice with David Rudovsky and David Kairys.

She left in 1986 to teach at CUNY’s law school, then left for N.Y.U. a year later.

Find out more about the life of Holly Maguigan in The New York Times.

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