History

History of Women Lawyers

A great place to begin research on women in the law: Women’s Legal History

For a quick overview of women’s legal history in the United States, click here.

Here’s a more in-depth look at the decades of the 1920s-1970s

The Women Trailblazers Project initiated by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession in 2004,  is a collection of oral histories of many individual women lawyers  and judges who practiced in the 1970s or earlier. The oral histories have now been digitized, and many are accessible on line. Transcripts of the histories are also accessible by visiting the Library of Congress, the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, and the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford. Click here for a C-Span video with Brooksley Born explaining the project.

For an overview of the history of women lawyers and associations of women lawyers in the United States from 1869-2019, click here.

History of Associations of Women Lawyers

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. Specific women’s bar associations have come and gone. Some of the oldest in continuous existence are the National Association of Women Lawyers (1899), Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (1914), the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia (1917),  Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (1919), Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (1919) and Queen’s Bench of San Francisco (1921). During the “Second Feminist Wave” of the 1970s, an influx of women into the profession brought renewed energy to women’s bar associations, and many new groups were created. It was in response to this interest that the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations came into being at an American Bar Association meeting in 1981.

For more on the history of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, click here.

Here are links to descriptions of the history of a few other women’s bar associations:

California

Lawyers Club of San Diego

Queen’s Bench Bar Association of the San Francisco Bay Area

Santa Barbara Women Lawyers

Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles

Colorado

Colorado Women’s Bar Association: Raising the Bar

District of Columbia

Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia

Florida

Florida Association for Women Lawyers

Georgia

Georgia Association for Women Lawyers

Hawaii

Hawaii Women Lawyers

Illinois

Women’s Bar Association of Illinois

Iowa

Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys

Louisiana

Association for Women Attorneys

Maryland

Women’s Bar Association of Maryland

Michigan

Women Lawyers Association of Michigan

Minnesota

Minnesota Women Lawyers

Mississippi

Mississippi Women Lawyers Association

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association

New York

Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

North Carolina

The North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys: Creating Camaraderie, Nurturing Leaders and Protecting the Rights of Women

A History of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys

North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys (1978-2009): A Comparative History of NCAWA Members and Women Attorneys Nationally

Oregon

Oregon Women Lawyers

Tennessee

Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women

Texas

Dallas Women Lawyers Association

Travis County Women Lawyers Association

Virginia

Virginia Women Attorneys Association

Wisconsin

Association for Women Lawyers