Gayle Sproul, KLN '80 began college at only 16, the start of her very impressive career. She worked her way up, becoming one of the only female partners at her law firm, and now serves as the senior vice president of the law department at CBS. Often the only woman in the room, and at times the youngest person in the room, her story is one of courage and overcoming adversity.
Sproul started off like many students—unsure of exactly what she wanted to do. She attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls in Philadelphia and graduated early, studying at Temple University during the post-Vietnam years.
"In the era that I went to college, there were many returning Vietnam Vets, who were often up to 10 years older than me, in my classes. So it was a bit of a cultural shock, coming as I did from cloistered halls of Girls High," Sproul said. "By the time I came to graduate school at Temple, though, my age was not really a factor anymore. I was just always the youngest person in the class."
Initially a biology student, Sproul was dealing with the pressure of being young while also trying to figure out what exactly she wanted to do. Enter Watergate. It uncovered far-reaching government corruption in the country's highest offices, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. As a summer camp counselor during the Congressional hearings, Sproul was hooked on the coverage.
"I would take every opportunity I could to sneak into the lounge and watch the hearings. I came to idolize Barbara Jordan and just loved to hear her say the word 'Constitution,'" she said. "I was in awe of the power of great journalism and the Constitution that made it possible."
This sparked a love of journalism, and she returned to Temple to get her master's in the field. With Watergate not far from her mind, she took a required law and ethics course as part of her degree, and it completely changed her track. During that time, she worked for NFL Films to support herself financially.
"I loved reading the assigned cases that established the bedrock principles ensuring freedom of the press and I decided that I was going to law school," she said.
Sproul attended Villanova Law School and determined that she wanted to be a media defense lawyer.
"[F]rom the very first day of law school, I was very clear about what I wanted to do. I tailored my coursework and my writing for law review on media and First Amendment issues, to the extent that I could," Sproul said. "I worked at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C. during my first summer and then looked around for law firms that had practice groups that did the kind of work I wanted to do and aimed for them."
Sproul quickly secured a job with Levine, Sullivan Koch and Schultz (LSKS), a major First Amendment defense firm in Philadelphia. Being a woman only added to the difficulty of her position.
"I was a litigator and there were always older lawyers and judges who found it very difficult to deal with young women in the profession as the equals of men," Sproul said. "That has changed a great deal over the last 30 years." Despite the environment at the time, Sproul rose to become partner.
She was able to work on—and win—several notable cases during her time there. She defended the Pocono Record, an area newspaper, who was challenged over a multi-part series they ran to uncover widespread real estate fraud in the Poconos. The story ran by the paper detailed real estate schemes that happened in the area, often preying upon vulnerable, uneducated home buyers who ended up being forced into foreclosure. After a three-week trial, the jury returned its verdict in an hour. Sproul considers winning this case one of her greatest achievements, along with representing the Associated Press in seeking and obtaining the release of portions of Bill Cosby's deposition.
She describes LSKS "a wonderful firm, a gem", and considers her colleagues to be top notch. However, when the firm recently went through a merger, Sproul decided to move on to CBS. While she just recently signed her offer, she knows this represents a huge milestone in her career. And to this day, she remains a proud Temple Owl.
Sproul said, "Temple grads are everywhere, including here, so it's great to be part of the alumni network."