University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 3/1996
Lawful care

                  A public health nurse in inner-city
            Detroit, bringing care and understanding to the
              sick and indigent, many of whom are Russian
               A high-powered civil lawyer for the U.S.
          Attorney's Office in San Francisco, trying
          cases that deal with federal employees.
     These scenarios are not pilots for upcoming television
shows. They are the real-life roles of an energetic and hard-
working heroine, Beth McGarry, Delaware '75.
     Currently an attorney specializing in employment law,
McGarry studied nursing at Delaware and credits that beginning
for her success as a lawyer. "Delaware teaches nurses to be
teachers," says McGarry, "and I still use those skills in my work
as an attorney."
     Right out of nursing school, McGarry followed the lead of
one of her cherished professors, Barbara Wilcox, joining the
Detroit Visiting Nurses Association. For two years, she provided
home health care to the inner-city poor, until she was hired as
the head nurse of the outpatient department at Sinai Hospital.
     "My focus was to upgrade the nursing services in the
outpatient department," McGarry says. "We were the primary
medical care for Detroit's Jewish community, which sponsors many
Russian immigrants, and the language barrier posed a special
challenge." McGarry broke down that barrier by bringing in local
Russian and Yiddish translators.
     When McGarry's husband, Richard Gasteiner, a financial
analyst with the U.S. Postal Service, was promoted, she followed
him to Bakersfield, Calif. There, she worked as a public health
and renal dialysis nurse, and, again, it was the teaching aspect
of nursing that appealed to her, while she was counseling people
diagnosed with kidney failure.
     When yet another promotion led the couple to San Francisco,
McGarry became spokesperson for San Mateo public health nurses,
serving as their representative to the California Nurses
Association union. While acting as shop steward, McGarry says,
she became "fascinated by the contract negotiations. I knew that
I was ready to head to law school."
     When she graduated from the University of California
Hastings College of Law in 1986, McGarry became an employment
lawyer, representing the U.S. Postal Service management in the
western region.
     What drew her to this area of law, despite her desire to
work with people? "It is a fairly technical aspect of law, which
makes it challenging and difficult to learn. And, it's never
stagnant. As society changes, the law reflects those changes.
However, because the very nature of this law demands getting
involved in people's lives, emotions can run high for both
parties, both employees and managers," she says.
     Currently, McGarry works in the civil division of the U.S.
Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. She
represents federal agencies and managers who are being sued. "In
my area of law, a federal employee can only come to federal court
to sue on limited issues, and the main one is discrimination,"
she says.
     She tries about two cases a year and usually wins. When she
isn't preparing and trying cases, McGarry teaches legal writing
and research to first-semester law students and trial advocacy to
second- and third-year students at her alma mater. And, she
travels around the country to teach employment law to new
assistant U.S. attorneys.
     In March, McGarry received the 1995 Director Award for
superior performance from the Department of Justice, in a
Washington, D.C., ceremony.
     Even McGarry's opposition acknowledges her exceptional work
with employment law. Thanks to a nomination by opposing council,
she was selected as a barrister for the Edward J. McFetridge
American Inn of Court. Based on the English model, this
organization honors accomplished lawyers and fosters collegiality
among opposing attorneys. Once a month for the next three years,
McGarry is invited to share an evening with the same people whom
she faces off with in the courtroom.
     "The University of Delaware was a wonderful experience for
me," she says. "It combined a challenging intellectual atmosphere
with a beautiful setting and small college atmosphere. What I
would really love is to return to Delaware as a visiting
                                               -Donna Speers