Lexington, KY – Like so many of the women interviewed for this publication, Barbara Edelman’s mother has been the most inspirational woman in her life – and a hard act to follow, as well.
“She is twice as smart as I am, she has unlimited energy and there isn’t anything she can’t do,” said Edelman, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP law firm. “She is a retired schoolteacher who can play classical piano, upholster furniture, solve algebraic equations, prepare tax returns, repair the roof, paint a room, lay tile, sing opera, host a dinner party for 20 or mow the grass, all at the very young age of 80. She has been like that her whole life.”
Edelman’s mother is Willie Barnstable, a key organizer in the family’s famed annual celebrity/charity event, the Barnstable Brown Derby Gala. Because her mother instilled the belief that they could do anything in life, Edelman continued, she and her four siblings “have always dreamed big dreams.”
For Edelman, that meant pursuing a career that was not very welcoming to women at the time. The first woman elected partner to Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs’ Lexington office in 1988, Edelman recalls commonly being mistaken for a court reporter as she appeared in courtrooms across the state.
“When I started out 30 years ago, I was going into courts all over Eastern Kentucky – a lot of those courts hadn’t seen any female lawyers yet,” she said, “I did not appear in front of any federal female judges until maybe 15 years ago.”