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Women’s History Month – Highlights in the Legal Arena

March 18, 2015

In honor of Women’s History month, here is a short list – by no means all-inclusive – of some highlights in the history of women in the legal profession:

1869 – Arabella Mansfield became the first woman to practice law in the United States after passing the Iowa bar.1886 – Carrie Burnham Kilgore became the first woman admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; after graduating from Penn Law in 1883 and fighting for her admittance for the next three years.

1920 – Florence Allen became the first woman to be elected to a court of general jurisdiction when elected to serve as a state court judge in Ohio. She went on to serve as the state’s first female appellate court judge through her election to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1922. She later became the first female federal appellate judge, when she was appointed to the 6th Circuit in 1933.

1927 – Sadie T.M. Alexander became the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

1930 – Sarah M. Soffel became the first woman judge in Pennsylvania.

1959 – Juanita Kidd Stout is appointed to fill a vacancy on the Philadelphia Municipal Court, making her the first African American woman to sit on the bench in Philadelphia. She was elected to a ten year term just two months later, making her the first elected African-American female judge in the United States.

1961 – Justice Anne X. Alpern is elected as the first woman elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

1981 – Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is sworn in as the first female justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

1988 – Doris Smith-Ribner, is the first African-American woman judge elected to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

1988 – now Justice Juanita Kidd Stout, became the first African American woman to serve on a state supreme court when Governor Robert P. Casey appointed her to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

2008 – Cheryl Allen, first African-American woman judge elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

2009 – Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic female judge to be sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

 

Feel free to provide information on other female trailblazers in the comment section below!

 

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