History of the NCWBA

Since the establishment of the Equity Club at the University of Michigan in 1886, women lawyers and law students have formed associations of their own:  sometimes because they were excluded from the formal or informal mentoring networks of men, sometimes for a special purpose (such as getting a woman on the bench), or sometimes just to share common concerns in a supportive setting.  During the 1980’s, there was great leadership in the women’s bar associations’ pipeline but little recognition of it in the establishment bars. One of the original goals of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (“NCWBA”) was to leverage our training in women’s bar associations into broader leadership positions and to capitalize on the numbers and talents in women’s bar associations that were going unheralded. Other goals were to support other women in their practice of law; to break  the glass ceilings of partnerships and judgeships; and to share information and successful projects.

In 1981, the Women’s Bar Association of DC (led by Presidents Judy McCaffrey and Susan Low) compiled a list of women’s bar associations across the nation. The Women’s Bar Association  of the District of Columbia  sent out letters to all the women’s bar associations on their list and asked them to send a representative to the 1981 American Bar Association (“ ABA”) meeting in New Orleans. These state representatives and other women lawyers at the ABA meeting were gathered up to attend the first meeting. Participants at this initial meeting were enthusiastic about starting an organization of women’s bar associations, and the NCWBA was born.

The ABA helped in this organizational effort by providing a room for the 1981 meeting and by later granting the NCWBA a seat in the ABA House of Delegates. Later meetings of the group followed in 1982 in Detroit and San Francisco. By 1983, NCWBA was formally organized and elected its first officers and directors. At the 1991 ABA annual meeting, the House of Delegates recognized the NCWBA as an affiliate organization, with a seat in the House of Delegates.  Timmerman Daugherty, who served as NCWBA’s ABA delegate for one year, cast the first vote at the February 1992 midyear meeting in Dallas.

NCWBA’s elected Officers and Directors in 1983-1984 were:


Timmerman (“Timmie”) Tepel Daugherty, Lexington Park, MD

Vice Presidents:

Gill Freeman, Miami Fl Pamela R. Harwood, Detroit, MI Carol S. Rabenhorst, Washington, DC

Corresponding Secretary:

Peggy LeBlanc, New Orleans, LA

Recording Secretary:

Delores Pegram Wilson, Newark, NJ


Mary Ann Coffey, New Orleans, LA

Original Board of Directors:

Sheila Birnbaum, New York, NY

Aldrinette M. Chapital, Houston, TX

Joan Ellenbogen, New York, NY

Ellen Mercer Fallon, Middlebury, VT

Debra Weiss Goodstone, Miami, FL

Marjorie M. Holmes, Los Angeles, CA

Arnette R. Hubbard, Chicago, IL

Clarice Jobes, Detroit, MI

Naomi Kauffman, Dodge City, KS

Susan A. Low, Washington, DC

Karen Mathis, Denver, CO

Jo Nelson, Houston, TX

Pauline Weaver, Oakland, CA

To see a list of past NCWBA officers and board members, click here.


NCWBA Presidents

In San Francisco, August 2019: From left Angel Zimmerman, 2018-19 President; Amanda Alexander, 2016-17 President; Mary Wolverton, 2000-01 President; Jeanne Marie Clavere, 2019-20 President; Nancy Newman, 2001-02 President; Nicolette Zachary, President Elect for 2020-01 term; and Paulette Weaver, 1989-90 President)

Former NCWBA Board Members, August 2007 celebration

Former NCWBA board members gather in San Francisco in August 2007 to celebrate the NCWBA
(from left) Nancy Newman, Anne Martin, Mary Wolverton, Lori Deveny, Kathy England, Gwen Fortson Waring, Miki McGovern