Christine Beshar made her mark as a partner in the male-dominated world of Wall Street law firms.
After graduating from Smith College in 1953, she had no career plan but was determined to work. Since her husband, Robert Beshar, was a lawyer, she applied to law firms. One hired her as a switchboard operator. Another made her assistant librarian. Then she spent several years assisting her husband, who represented Sperry & Hutchinson, the issuer of green stamps that rewarded loyalty at grocery stores.
While working and having babies, Ms. Beshar gained practical legal experience and read books on contracts, rules of evidence and constitutional law. Without attending law school, she took the New York bar exam and passed on her first try. Cravath, Swaine & Moore hired her in 1964 and seven years later made her its first woman partner. She was so surprised and delighted by the news that she gave the presiding partner, Roswell Gilpatric, a hug.
After her children were grown, Ms. Beshar proposed that the firm set up a child-care center in its New York office for parents who worked there. It is now named after her. She died Jan. 11 at her home in Manhattan. She was 88.
“The idea that you can have it all, and do it all, is just ridiculous,” Ms. Beshar said in a 2013 video interview with Bloomberg Law. “There is the family, there is the profession, and then there is everything else, and you truly shortchange everything else. But those two I don’t think I shortchanged.” She and her husband put a priority on evening meals with their children and family outings at their weekend home near Carmel, N.Y.