10 Trailblazing Female Lawyers Who Shaped American History

In a world where less than 36% of working attorneys are women, it can be tempting to dwell on the long road ahead in achieving equal footing for women in the legal profession. While continuing along this road to equity in representation not only between women and men in law, we must remember that the foundations for this path are already in place. This road, although by no means complete, was paved by many trailblazing women who fought and endured to show the world just how preposterous it was to think only men could be lawyers. Listed chronologically, here are ten female lawyers who refused to remain silent about their passion for the law, and who in turn set up a foundation for the countless brilliant rising women lawyers to come.

  1. Margaret Brent

In 1638, Margaret Brent became the first woman to practice law in colonial America when she was named the executor of the estate of Lord Calvert, who was the governor of the Maryland Colony.  Records indicate Brent’s practice included more than 100 court cases in Maryland and Virginia. Amazingly, there is virtually no record of another female attorney in America until the mid-1800’s; covering a span of over two hundred years.

  1. Myra Bradwell

After founding the “Chicago Legal News” a widely circulated and regarded legal newspaper in 1868, Myra Bradwell was an early pioneer for women practicing law. She wrote a well-received column on “Law Relating to Women,” highlighting hot-button topics such as suffrage, but her most significant contribution came in 1873 when Bradwell appealed to the United States Supreme Court in what many believe to be the first sexual discrimination case in American jurisprudence.

In Bradwell v. Illinois, Myra Bradwell argued she was qualified to practice law in her home state of Illinois because she was a United States Citizen. At issue was the question of whether the right to receive a license to practice law is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to all American citizens. Not surprisingly, the answer was no; the Supreme Court held that states could statutorily deny women the right to practice law.

  1. Lemma Barkaloo

Lemma Barkaloo was the first woman to apply for admission to Columbia University Law School when her application was rejected in 1868. Two other women applied and were also immediately denied entry.  George Templeton Strong of Columbia wrote at the time: “Application from three infatuated young women to the law school.  No woman shall degrade herself by practicing law in New York especially if I can save her ‘Women’s Rights Women’ are uncommonly loud and offensive of late. I loathe the lot.”

The following year, Barkaloo was accepted to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and begins as a first-year law student. Unfortunately, she didn’t last long; after enduring a year of non-stop harassment from male classmates, she left the school. Barkaloo passed the Missouri bar exam but died soon after during a typhoid epidemic in 1870 and was unable to fulfill her dream of practicing law.

  1. Lettie Burlingame

In 1886, Lettie Burlingame, a stanch suffragette, started an organization at the University of Michigan called The Equity Club. Originally intended solely for female law students and law alumnae, the organization grew, making it the first professional organization for women lawyers. Burlingame eventually went into private practice and was regarded as a highly skilled lawyer until her death in 1890.

  1. Lyda Burton Conley

In 1910, Lyda Burton Conley became the first Native American female lawyer in America. Her motivations were pure; she taught herself the law to protect her tribe’s cemetery burial land located in Huron Park Indian Cemetery from being sold. Unfortunately, she lost her case, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rehear it; however, Conley had raised enough public support through her efforts that the House of Representatives Indian Affairs committee finally banned desecration of the cemetery in 1912.

  1. Genevieve Rose Cline

Genevieve Rose Cline was the first woman federal judge in America, nominated in 1928 by President Calvin Coolidge to the U.S. Customs Court, where she served for twenty-five years. Cline earned her Bachelor of Laws degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1921 and then entered private practice with her brother. In addition to her legal prowess, Cline was an early advocate for consumer protection, women’s rights, and the suffrage movement.

  1. Sarah Tilghman Hughes

Appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in 1961 via a recess appointment by John F. Kennedy, Sarah Tilghman Hughes was confirmed the following year by the United State Senate. Her roots in public service ran deep, beginning her career as a police officer helping prostitutes and runaway girls get their lives back on track. While living in a tent by the Potomac River, Hughes attended George Washington University Law School at night. Upon graduation, Hughes entered private practice in Dallas, Texas, and also served as an elected state representative before opting to sit as a state judge from 1935-1961 on the Texas District Court. In the frenetic aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, Sarah Tilghman Hughes was called upon to administer the oath of office to Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, making her the only woman in U.S. history to swear in a United States President.

  1. Sarah Weddington

Few lawyers can match the professional debut made by Sarah Weddington. The late 1960’s were not necessarily an inclusive environment for women lawyers, so she had her work cut out for her. Luckily, she became interested in a case that caught her eye and agreed to take it pro bono. Sarah Weddington was only 26 years old when she became the youngest person ever to argue and win a Supreme Court case. You may have heard of the case; the caption was Roe v. Wade.

  1. Sandra Day O’Connor

After earning her law degree from Stanford in 1952 and serving two terms in the Arizona state senate, Sandra Day O’Connor worked her way through the legal system as an attorney and ultimately a judge. Two years after winning election to the Arizona Court of Appeals, President Reagan appointed her to the United States Supreme Court in 1981, making her the first woman justice to serve on the Supreme Court in its 191-year history. She served for twenty-four years, during which she established herself as one of the most influential voices on the Court until her retirement in 2006.

  1. Janet Reno

In 1993, Janet Reno became the first female Attorney General of the United States. She went on to serve for both terms of Bill Clinton’s presidency, making her the longest-serving Attorney General in U.S. history. Reno’s tenure was not without controversy; she took full responsibility for the 1993 botched raid of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.

Another high-profile case involved the deportation of a 6-year-old Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez, who was the only survivor of an escape attempt by twelve Cubans on a small boat. Despite intense pressure from Cuban exiles in South Florida, Reno was personally involved in the case, which culminated in Immigration and Naturalization Service agents storming the home of the boy’s relatives and taking him at gunpoint. A photo of the young child hiding in a closet being discovered by heavily armed agents made the front page of every newspaper in America, but Reno stood her ground based on her belief that she was upholding the rule of law. Janet Reno died in 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Final Thoughts

These comprise just the tip of the iceberg of the countless women whose contributions to the field of law were invaluable. While history has done them the disservice of forgetting too many of these sacrifices, the spirit of these gifts is kept alive by the women who choose to pursue the legal profession every day. The road has been tremendously difficult and excessively long. However, the spirit, resilience, and brilliance of these determined legal giants have shown countless young women that it is one they are entirely capable of traveling along.


© Copyright 2018 PracticePanther.
This post was written by Jaliz Maldonado of PracticePanther.

How to Ensure Your Business Development New Year’s Resolutions Become Reality

It’s mid-January – already halfway through the first month of the year.  By now, according to John Norcross, author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing your Goals and Resolutions, about half of us have already given up on at least one of our resolutions.

The University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology reports that 45% of Americans usually make some kind of New Year’s resolution but only 8% achieves success.  The reason, says Baba Shiv, Stanford Neuroeconomist, is that most people use the wrong part of their brain when attempting to keep resolutions.  We rely on willpower and resolve rather than forming new habits using cognitive thinking, planning and rewards.

At LawVision, our mantra throughout the year is that we teach habits rather than steps.  Let’s face it, business development principles are not nearly as complex as the rules of evidence or the tax code. Our clients, with some well-planned training, can eventually grasp the nuts and bolts of how to go about business development. The real challenge is finding the time to do it and that requires building habits.

Neuroscientists and Psychologists agree.  Shiv claims in his often quoted study, “Heart and Mind in Conflict” that willpower springs from a part of the brain, in the prefrontal cortex that is easily overloaded and exhausted. When the cognitive parts of the brain responsible for prioritizing and making real choices becomes stressed, the resolve weakens.

Rather than simply making a resolution, a better approach is to tie that resolution to a plan for building a new habit.

USA today listed John Norcross’s top six strategies for turning hollow resolutions into new habits that stick. They (still) apply to anyone focused on building out a great book of business this year.

1) Make changes to your behavior. Changing a routine can bring different results. Instead of trying the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome, modify behaviors.

2) Define SMART goals. When setting targets, use the SMART acronym: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific.

3) Track your progress. A calendar, a pipeline tool a contact list, a business plan, a smartphone app… whatever it is, find something to keep track of and measure your progress

4) Reward small achievements. When you reach a portion of your goal, be kind to yourself and recognize the accomplishment.  This will help keep you focused and excited to move forward.

5) Make it public. Make yourself accountable to your family, your network and social circles.

6) You are human. Chances are you may slip up once or twice during this process. It’s OK. According to Norcross, seventy percent of successful goal-setters said that their first slip actually strengthened their resolutions. Adopt the outlook, “I’m human. Let me learn from it, and let me keep going.”

Content copyright 2017 LawVision Group LLC All rights reserved.
This post was written by Craig Brown.

2018 LMA Tech West Conference at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco

Registration is open for the 2018 LMA Tech West Conference on January 31 –February 1, 2018 at the Hotel Nikko. This premier marketing technology educational event will bring together more than 300 marketing and business development professionals from across the country for a day and a half of innovative programming and networking.

LMA Tech West Ad Square

Through a variety of session formats, including hands-on workshops, roundtable discussions, TED Talks and panel presentations, LMA Tech West is where some of the most innovative thinkers in our industry provide examples, inspiration and takeaways that attendees of all levels can apply to the challenges and opportunities we face in our roles, in our organizations and in the industry.

The programming for the 2018 conference will include the latest trends and issues affecting the legal marketing technology landscape in all stages of the legal sales cycle in areas such as social media, big data, artificial intelligence, experience management/lead management, CRM, web site, SEO, content marketing video, marketing automation and much more!

Learn more about the LMA Tech West Conference Agenda.

2017 Legal Marketing Technology Conference Midwest

The Legal Marketing Technology Conferences are the largest conferences dedicated to technologies that law firm professionals use to identify, attract and support clients. They provide the premier forum to learn from and network with thought leaders and colleagues. The National Law Review is proud to be one of this years Megabyte Sponsor’s!

This year’s LMATech Midwest conference theme is Collaboration That Works.

The event will be held on September 25th and 26th at the University Club of Chicago.



For more information on this years conference go to: https://www.legalmarketing.org/page/midwest-tech-2017

#LMA17 Keynote Speaker Zoe B. Chance Twitter Recap

Day one of the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference featured Keynote Speaker Zoë Chance, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Yale School of Management. Zoë teaches one of the most sought-after MBA courses, Mastering Influence and Persuasion. This morning, she shared her expertise on behavioral bias with LMA and how it applies to the law firm environment.

4 Ways Attorneys Can Connect with Today’s Legal Consumers

attorney legal consumerLast year, an Avvo survey of 1,000 consumers who purchased legal services provided some important insights into what attorneys need to know about the modern legal consumer.  The Avvo study offered a three-point description of today’s legal consumers. They are:

Informed — access to legal information online has made consumers more savvy than ever about the options available to them. They read legal articles, research their particular legal issue, research an attorney and visit legal forums online.

Connected — people now have immediate access to other legal consumers online and they are reading reviews about others’ experiences with attorneys. An overwhelming 95% said that online reviews were important when choosing a lawyer. Of those who received a referral, 45% still researched attorneys online.

Picky — legal consumers know there are a number of different ways to purchase services, including online forms, fixed fee options, etc. They are increasingly attracted to unbundled services, an a la carte solution for their legal issues. In fact, 76% said they prefer fixed fee billing arrangements.

To connect with legal consumers today, attorneys must:

Have a strong online presence. When it comes to online marketing, you should focus on two things: (1) go where your potential clients are, and (2) implement what you can measure. You have to be able to measure your success (or failure) to discover what works for your area of practice and to be able to build on those successes. When it comes to social media, Facebook is a must for consumer attorneys. One of the most powerful features of Facebook is ad targeting, the ability to layer targeting options on top of one another to create a highly specific audience. This enables you to target locally and get your ads in front of people who need your services now. Facebook ads are low-cost, so you can experiment to see what resonates with your potential clients and then repeat what works.

Encourage online reviews. Attorneys need to create a process for making reviews happen. Always look for those moments in your relationships with clients to create a review opportunity – when you have won a case for a client, when you have helped someone avoid litigation – all opportunities for you to generate a great review. Make it easy for clients to review you by emailing them a link to post a review on Google. Better yet, create an autoresponder email with a built-in Google review form and send it to them at the appropriate time. When you have receive good reviews or testimonials, post them on your website, in your e-newsletter and anywhere else that potential customers are likely to stumble upon them. And be sure to ask whoever provided you with that great review if they would also submit it to Google so it shows up in search.

Offer unbundled services. There are millions of people who download legal documents off LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer for business and personal use. And it shouldn’t surprise you to know that many of them still want a real live attorney to review those documents (which is why the online legal service providers refer customers to attorneys now from their websites). Consider offering unbundled services like online legal document reviews, especially for business clients — the initial fees may not be much, but could lead to bigger things down the road. Remember, many people are looking for a la carte options.

Provide fixed fee options. To be successful with fixed fee billing, firms need to conduct extensive research into their case files going back several years in order to arrive at pricing that will protect profitability.

© The Rainmaker Institute, All Rights Reserved

Register for LMA Midwest Chicago CMO Panel Luncheon – February 22nd

Click here to register

February 22, 2017 | 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

John C. Albrighton, Jim Durham, Jill Himelfarb, John R. Neidecker and Stacy Rowe

We should know by now that it’s not about your attorneys or your firm; it’s about your clients! As clients have increased their demands and expectations of law firms, the one-size-fits-all client experience has become obsolete. Clients have become catalysts for greater changes in the legal industry and to stay competitive, it’s imperative that firms have a strategic, tailored approach to client engagement and service.

Three Chicago-based legal marketing leaders and a well known consultant and former CMO will candidly share their experiences implementing “client-centric” business development initiatives. Our panelists will share their perspectives on the following topics and how they relate to their current client experience management (CEM) strategies:

  • Where Marketing & Business Development Meet – Developing Marketing Strategies that Support Business Development
  • Teams and Resources – Aligning both to support CEM Strategies
  • Revenue Generation – Evaluating Opportunities and Developing Pursuit Strategies
  • Cross-Selling – Overcoming Barriers and Fostering Success
  • Business Intelligence + Client Feedback – Using Information to Drive Action

In a nutshell, “client experience management” describes the process by which firms attract and retain a greater number of clients by validating business strategy and improving the value brought to individual clients and prospective clients through services rendered, relationships and targeted and optimized engagement.

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP
2 N. LaSalle Street
Suite 1700
Chicago, IL 60602

Lunch will be provided.

$40 LMA Members
$60 Non-Members and any registrations after February 20th
Note: You must be logged in to the LMA website to receive the member rate.