All 13 stories feature women protagonists - be they lawyers or judges, & 11 are written by women. For most of this genre's history (even until the 50s) women lawyers were sidelined by their male counterparts, & "thought unfitted for trial work and suited only for matrimonial cases or backroom fields as estates and trusts" (Time Magazine, 1964 - quoted in the Introduction by Linda Fairstein.)
Same was the scenario in the legal thriller world. Save for a Sara Woods or a Sarah Caudwell, the presence of women writers in the genre was almost nil & there were none to challenge the supremacy of authors like Erle Stanley Gardner, Auchincloss or George Higgins. However, since the 90s when Grisham, Turow, Martini & Richard North Patterson began to rule the genre, there has also been a strong & effective representation by women authors like Lisa Scottoline, O'Shaughnessy, Lisa Mason, Lia Matera & many others who have carved their own niche.
Women Before the Bench is proof of the success these authors have achieved. Perri O'Shaughnessy's Juggernaut features her series protagonist, Nina Reilly who investigates a supposed car accident, & Michael A. Kahn's amusing Strange Bedfellows are the highlights of the first part titled The Civil Wars.
Rochelle Krich's Yow Win Some is the better of the two stories featured in the second part titled The Prosecutors, & is a good story centered on a drunk driving case. British author Sarah Caudwell's The Triumph of Eve & Margaret Maron's Mixed Blessings are the other better stories in the collection.
So how did I find the collection? For one thing, it offers variety & includes stories on civil law, family law as well as criminal law, & in that sense it is an anthology worth its name.
The Editor has done a great job in selecting stories told from different viewpoints, that of the Prosecutor, the Defender & the Judge. I had one major regret, however, no story from Lisa Scottoline, aka "the female Grisham" - the most popular of woman legal authors, & in that respect, this anthology is incomplete.
All in all, Women Before the Bench is proof of the success the women legalists have achieved, but it cannot be called a "testament" of their success.