Catherine Dritsas-1997 WLAM Foundation Scholar
Catherine Dritsas won the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation (WLAM Foundation) Scholarship in 1997, the first year the scholarships were awarded to women law students. The $500 scholarship that year paid for 1 credit hour of her coursework at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. “It is marvelous to see how the [WLAM Foundation Scholarship Program] has grown,” Catherine commented.
Becoming a lawyer after a 31-year career in education, Catherine’s path has been anything but traditional. Nevertheless, for Catherine, the daughter and sister of University of Detroit law alumni and an aunt to 2 nephews who are attorneys, the law “is in her genes.” She went to law school because she felt she needed a new challenge. After law school, Catherine did product liability contract work, insurance defense and family law. Now a solo practitioner focusing on estate planning and family law, Catherine encourages lawyers interested in solo practice to “consider all of the available resources, to network as much as you can, and to reach out to fellow classmates.” She continues to reach out to and mentor other women who go into the field of law, including her former students at the Academy of Sacred Heart. The Academy dedicated its gymnasium in her honor, re-naming it the Catherine Dritsas Gymnasium.
Catherine does not believe in resting on her laurels but rather focuses on what lies ahead. As an athletic director, she was part of an ad hoc group of women who tried to change the athletic seasons for girls’ sports in Michigan in 1972. “They laughed us out of the room.” Last year, she had an opportunity to testify in federal court in a pending Title IX case. This time, she said, the effort was much better funded and coordinated. As a 1993 inductee into the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame, she is excited “to see girls have the opportunity to compete.” In terms of being a strong advocate for women, Catherine paraphrases a favorite quote from Satchel Paige: “Don’t look back . . . something might be gaining on you!”