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A Look at 139 Years of Steps Forward, Implicit Bias, and Micro-Moments

June 2018 - DRI's For The Defense
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April 2018 marked 139 years since the first woman lawyer was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States of America. In the late 1800s, federal and state bars alike had a practice of prohibiting women’s admissions to practicing law. The explicit and implicit attitudes regarding women had profound effects on the legal profession. One 1872 opinion reflects the prevailing attitude at the time. The United States Supreme Court, in Bradwell v. The State, 83 U.S. 130 (1872), upheld a decision allowing the State of Illinois to prohibit a woman from practicing law. Justice Bradley’s concurrence stated:

[T]he civil law, as well as nature herself, has always recognized a wide difference in the respective spheres and destinies of man and woman. Man is, or should be, woman’s protector and defender. The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life. The constitution of the family organization, which is founded in the divine ordinance, as well as in the nature of things, indicates the domestic sphere as that which properly belongs to the domain and functions of womanhood.

Bradwell, 83 U.S. at 141.

When did the door crack open, and what gains have women in the legal profession in the United States achieved?

Read the article here.

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