Making ‘RBG,’ the Documentary About Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Podcast)



Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

After Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959, tied for first in her class, she could not get a job as an associate in big law. As her classmate Professor Arthur R. Miller tells it, a partner at a prestigious firm was told about the brightest student in his class but, when her gender was mentioned, the partner wouldn’t even consider her.

Which law firm? Miller isn’t saying.

“He wouldn’t name the New York firm. It was our impression that it was a big name law firm in New York who’s name might still ring a bell,” Julie Cohen, co-director of a new documentary about Justice Ginsburg, told Big Law Business.

Big law may not have been part of Ginsburg’s path, but not practicing at a law firm clearly did not impede her professional progress.

It is well known that Justice Ginsburg became the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Her pop culture bona fides, established after her famous dissenting opinions, include a recurring segment on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, and memes including the play on the name of rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. However, less well known is the path Ruth Bader Ginsburg took, including her years as as a lawyer, arguing six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five of them.

Julie Cohen and Betsy West, directors of RBG. Photo Credit: © Myles Pettengill. Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

In January 2015, filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West had the idea of filling in those gaps by making a feature documentary about Ginsburg. Their film, “RBG,” was released in select theaters today. In this podcast interview with the directors, they tell Big Law Business about Justice Ginsburg and their experience making the film.

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Show Notes:

“RBG” opens in select theaters on May 4. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, interviewed by Nina Totenberg, at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Kate McKinnon, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Saturday Night Live.

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