Happy International Women’s Day
We’ve come a long way, baby!
Arabella Mansfield became the first female lawyer in the United States when she was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869. Edith Locke became the first female lawyer in Texas in 1902 and Hortense Ward was the first woman in Texas to be admitted to the United States Supreme Court Bar in 1915.
In my first year of law school, I learned that two famous alumni had faced very different career opportunities when they graduated in the early 1950’s. William Rehnquist went from Stanford Law School to a Supreme Court clerkship while Sandra Day O’Connor had trouble finding a job in the legal field. She ultimately got a job as a deputy county attorney after she offered to work for no salary. She didn’t have an office and shared space with a secretary. You might say that Sandra Day O’Connor got the sweetest revenge in 1981 when she was sworn in as our first female Supreme Court justice.
Things had changed a bit by the time I graduated from Stanford in 1988, but there were still very few female partners at the large corporate law firm where I started my career and only one of those partners was in litigation. Over the course of my career, I’ve seen significant improvement, but we’ve still got a way to go. According to a 2019 report by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, 38% of the attorneys are women. Of those in private practice, 22.7% of partners and 45% of associates are women.
As a woman-owned and managed law firm, Hanna & Plaut is committed to promoting the careers of women in the profession. And on this International Women’s Day we celebrate the awesome women on our team, from Tara Mireur one of the first lawyers to join the firm, to Karla Huertas, who just joined us last year. Along with Sheila Tan, Sarah Scott, and Lauren Burgess, these women represent the best of the legal profession and we are very proud to have them on our team.