First American Woman to Graduate from Law School

Ada Kepley was the first woman in the United States to graduate from law school (1870). When she applied for a license, she was told that Illinois law did not permit women to practice law. By the time the law was overturned, Kepley had diverted her energies to the support of social reforms, particularly the temperance movement.

Ada Harriet Miser was born February 11, 1847 to Henry and Ann Miser in Somerset, …Read More...

California's First Woman Lawyer

Clara Shortridge Foltz deserves to be called California's First Woman. She became the state's first woman lawyer, but only after fighting to change the law that denied women the right to become lawyers. That was only the beginning of her many firsts. She was the first woman to serve as clerk of the judiciary committee of the state assembly, the first woman deputy district attorney in the United States, and the first to run for governor.

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A Pioneer in American Law

Myra Bradwell, a publisher and political activist, almost became the first woman lawyer in Illinois. Though she never practiced law, she became one of the most influential people in the legal profession, and paved the way for future women lawyers. Through her publication, the Chicago Legal News, she initiated many important legal and social reforms.

Early Years
Myra Colby was born on February 12, 1831 in Manchester, Vermont, the youngest of five children of …Read More...

Pioneer Women in the American Legal Profession

Though women lawyers did not enter the legal profession until after the Civil War, that does not mean that women did not want to become lawyers in the antebellum period. It only means that there were no records kept.

First, women were denied admission to law schools, and then they were denied permission to practice law. Either the legislature or the supreme court of each state determined the requirements for admission to the …Read More...

First African American Woman Lawyer

Not only was Charlotte Ray the first African American woman lawyer in the United States, she was one of the first women to practice in the District of Columbia and the third American woman of any race to earn a law degree (Howard University Law School, 1872).

Charlotte E. Ray was born in New York City on January 13, 1850 to Charlotte and Reverend Charles Bennett Ray. She had six siblings, including two sisters, Cordelia …Read More...

First Woman Lawyer in the United States

Arabella Mansfield (1846-1911) became America's first woman lawyer when she was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869. She was allowed to take the bar exam and passed with high scores, despite a state law restricting applicants to white males over the age of 21. Mansfield also became one of the first female college professors and administrators in the United States.

She was born Belle Aurelia Babb on May 23, 1846 on a …Read More...