Archive for ‘McCulloch’

March 18, 2011

Legal Pioneers

by Angela N. Johnson

Meg Gorecki’s article, “Legal Pioneers: Four of Illinois First Women Lawyers” explores the work of Myra Bradwell, Alta Hulett, Ada Kepley, and Catherine McCulloch in opening the door to the legal profession to women and serving as role models for today’s lawyers.  Though these ladies happen to be legal pioneers of Illinois, its important to note that these four women are also pioneers on a national scale, too.  Given these women’s efforts in Illinois, it should come as no surprise that a 1901 issue of the Chicago Legal News declared “Illinois has more women lawyers than any state in the world and Chicago has more than any other city in the world” (Gorecki 1990).

 In comparing women’s entry to the legal profession with women’s work as doctors, Gorecki notes, “In 1880 there were only two hundred women lawyers in the entire United States, which was less than the number of women doctors practicing in Boston alone”  (Gorecki 1990). Though this article groups the four women together, they each had individual successes.  “Myra Bradwell was the first woman to apply for a license to practice law. Alta Hulett was the first woman to become a lawyer in Illinois, Ada Kepley was the first woman in the world to receive a law degree, and Catherine McCulloch was the first woman in Illinois to become a justice of the peace”  (Gorecki 1990). 

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