Susan Wild, JD ‘82, is the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District. She’s also the mother of current GW Law student Clay Wild, Class of 2020. In a Q&A, she talks about her experiences at GW Law and her victories in the 2018 midterm election.
How is being a lawyer going to help you in Congress?
Ms. Wild: During my campaign, I emphasized my negotiation and advocacy skills as attributes that I would take to Congress to work for the people of my district. My entire career has been about advocating for my clients’ interests and bringing about a resolution between adversaries. Being able to do both of those things – fighting for a cause you believe in and are passionate about, while also being able to negotiate and reach a compromise – are skills badly needed in Washington today.
Is there a particular professor at GW Law who has had an impact on you?
Ms. Wild: Professor Schechter was a terrific professor. I have often named him as my favorite professor. I loved his antitrust class so much that I thought I wanted to be an antitrust lawyer. Although Professor Schechter somewhat dissuaded me from that career, explaining to me that, at least at the time, the subject matter was more interesting as theory than my early career would be as an antitrust lawyer.
I also found Professor Banzhaf to be inspirational for his work in the area of tobacco litigation and other cutting-edge consumer protection issues. One case in particular that I remember was a lawsuit against a local dry cleaner that charged more to launder women’s shirts than it did for men’s. It had never occurred to me that it was discriminatory, but Professor Banzhaf made me think in a different way–exactly what law school is supposed to do.
What was it like on the campaign trail?
Ms. Wild: The campaign trail can be exhausting at times, but the experience was rewarding. Over the course of the campaign, I put more than 20,000 miles on my car driving from one end of the district to the other. I was out almost every evening for months, at meet and greets in people’s homes, hosting roundtables of different groups, and really listening to people from all different backgrounds. It’s humbling to be invited into the homes, offices, churches, mosques, and synagogues of people all across the region. Even more humbling is to be given the responsibility to represent all of their voices here in Washington.
What was it like to be part of a historic year for women in politics?
Ms. Wild: I’m extremely proud to be elected as the first woman to go to Congress from my district. This year, Pennsylvania went from having zero women in any of its 18 Congressional Districts, to having four women elected! It’s incredible to see not only so many women elected in 2018, but so many people who add a lot of diversity to the halls of Congress.