Lawyers: The Perils of Portia

It has been 95 years since Iowa's Mrs. Arabella A. Mansfield hung out her shingle as the first licensed woman attorney in the U.S. In that same year, 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Illinois State Bar's refusal to admit Mrs. Myra Bradwell with the observation that "the natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belong to the female sex evidently unfit it for many of the occupations of civil life." Today in the U.S., the woman lawyer lives and works in a society that has long since accepted a Myra Bradwell's right to practice law, but where many...

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