List of first women lawyers and judges in the United States

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This is a list of the first women lawyer(s) and judge(s) in each U.S. state. It includes the year in which the women were admitted to practice law (in parentheses). Also included are women who achieved other distinctions such becoming the first in their state to obtain a law degree or become a political figure.

Firsts nationwide[edit]

  • Margaret Brent:[1] First female to act as an attorney in court (1648)
  • Arabella Mansfield:[2] First female without a formal legal education admitted to a state bar in the U.S. (1869)
  • Ada Kepley (1870):[3] First female to graduate with a law degree and practice in a court of law in the U.S.
  • Esther Hobart Morris:[4] First female judge (upon becoming a Justice of the Peace; non-attorney) in the U.S. (1870)
  • Charlotte E. Ray (1872):[5] First African American female lawyer in the U.S. and Washington D.C.
  • Belva Ann Lockwood (1873):[6] First female lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (1880)
  • Clara Shortridge Foltz (1878):[7] First female deputy district attorney in the U.S. and California (1910)
  • Catherine Waugh McCulloch (1886):[8][9][10] First female lawyer elected as a Justice of the Peace in the U.S. and Illinois (1907)
  • Lyda Conley (1902):[5] First Native American (Wyandot) female lawyer in the U.S. and to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (1909)
  • Kathryn Sellers (1911):[11] First federally appointed female judge in the U.S. (1918)
  • Annette Abbott Adams (1912):[12] First female to serve as an Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. (1920)
  • Julia W. Ker (1912):[13][14][15] First female police judge in the U.S. and Washington (1926)
  • Mary O'Toole (1914):[14] First female appointed as a municipal judge in the U.S. and Washington, D.C. (1921)
  • Florence Ellinwood Allen (1914):[16][17] First female appointed as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals (1934)
  • Burnita Shelton Matthews (1919):[18] First female appointed as a federal district judge (1949)
  • Genevieve R. Cline (1921):[19] First female appointed as a judge of the U.S. Customs Court (1928)
  • Helen R. Carloss (c. 1923):[20] First female lawyer (from Mississippi) to argue cases before a U.S. Court of Appeal
  • Consuelo N. Bailey (1925):[21] First female Lieutenant Governor of any state (1955)
  • Lorna E. Lockwood (1925):[22] First female appointed as a Chief Justice of a state supreme court in the U.S. (1970)
  • Jane Bolin (1932):[23] First African American female judge in the U.S. and New York (1939)
  • Elizabeth K. Ohi (1937):[24] First Japanese American female lawyer in the U.S. and Illinois
  • Emma Ping Lum (c. 1946):[25][26] First Chinese American female lawyer in the U.S. and California
  • Constance Baker Motley (1946):[27] First African American female appointed as a federal judge (1966)
  • Julia Cooper Mack (1951):[28] First African American female appointed to a court of last resort in the U.S. (1975)
  • Sandra Day O'Connor (1952):[29] First female appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court (1981)
  • Arleigh M. Woods (1953):[30][31] First African American female appointed as a state appellate court judge (1980)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1959):[32] First Jewish female appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. (1993)
  • Amalya Lyle Kearse (c. 1960s):[33] First African American female appointed as a U.S. circuit court judge (1979)
  • Geraldine Ferraro (1961):[34] First female (a lawyer) vice presidential candidate representing a major U.S. political party (1984)
  • Janet Reno (c. 1963):[35] First female lawyer to become the Attorney General of the U.S. (1993)
  • Carin Clauss (1963):[36][37] First female solicitor for the U.S. Department of Labor (1977)
  • Vilma Socorro Martínez (1967):[38][39] First Latino American female lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (1977)
  • Carmen Consuelo Cerezo (1969):[40] First Puerto Rican American female appointed as a U.S. district court judge (1980)
  • Claudine Bates-Arthur (1970):[41][42][43] First Navajo female licensed as a lawyer in the U.S.
  • Frances Munoz (1972):[44][45][46][47][48] First Latino American female judge in the U.S. and California (1978)
  • Joyce London Alexander (1972):[49] First African American female to be appointed a Chief Magistrate judge in the U.S. (1979)
  • Patricia A. Yim Cowett (1972):[50][51][52] First Chinese American female judge in the U.S. and California (1979)
  • Mary C. Morgan (1972):[53] First openly LGBT female judge in the U.S. and California (1981)
  • Deborah Batts (1972):[54] First openly LGBT African American female federal judge (1994)
  • Irma Elsa Gonzalez (1973):[55] First Mexican American female federal judge (1984)
  • Hillary Clinton (1973):[56][57][58] First female (a lawyer) presidential candidate representing a major U.S. political party (2016)
  • Roberta Achtenberg (1975):[59] First openly LGBT female (a lawyer) appointment to a federal position was confirmed by the U.S. Senate (1993)
  • Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro (1975):[60] First openly LGBT Latino American female appointed to a federal judgeship (2013)
  • Arlinda Locklear (1976):[61][62][63] First Native American (Lumbee) female lawyer to win a U.S. Supreme Court case (1983)
  • Lillian Y. Lim (1977):[64][65][66] First Filipino American female judge in the U.S. and California (1986)
  • Bonnie Dumanis (1977):[67] First openly LGBT female elected as a district attorney in the U.S. (2002)
  • Mazie Hirono (1978):[68][69][70] First Asian-born (Japan) female and Buddhist elected to the U.S. Senate (2012)
  • Bernice B. Donald (1979):[71][72] First African American female to serve as a bankruptcy judge (1988)
  • Kim McLane Wardlaw (1979)[73] First Hispanic American female appointed as a U.S. circuit court judge (1998)
  • Leah Ward Sears (1980)[74] First African American female to serve as a Chief Justice in the U.S. (2005)
  • Virginia Linder (1980):[75] First openly LGBT female appointed as a state supreme court justice (2007)
  • Sonia Sotomayor (1980):[76] First Hispanic female Justice of the Supreme Court Justice (2009)
  • Susan Oki Mollway (1981):[77] First Asian American female appointed as a U.S. district court judge (1998)
  • Lorna G. Schofield (1981):[78] First Filipino American female to sit on a federal court in the U.S. (2012)
  • Phyllis Frye (1981):[79][80] First openly LGBT judge in the U.S. and Texas (2010)
  • Cecilia Altonaga (1983):[81] First Cuban American female federal judge in the U.S. (2003)
  • Wendy Duong (1984):[82] First Vietnamese American female judge in the U.S. (1992)
  • Dolly M. Gee (1984):[83] First Chinese American female to serve as a federal judge in the U.S. (2010)
  • Loretta Lynch (1984):[84] First African American female appointed as the U.S. Attorney General (2015)
  • Kate Brown (1985):[85] First openly LGBT female (a lawyer) elected as a governor in the U.S. and Oregon (2016)
  • Rena M. Van Tine (1986):[86][87][88] First Indian American female judge in the U.S. and Illinois (2001)
  • Jenny Durkan (1986):[89][90] First openly LGBT female appointed as a U.S. Attorney in the U.S. and Washington (2009)
  • Susana Martinez (1986):[91][92] First Hispanic American female lawyer to be elected as a governor in the U.S. and New Mexico (2011)
  • Pamela K. Chen (1986):[93] First openly LGBT Asian American female judge to serve on the federal bench (2013)
  • Staci Michelle Yandle (1987):[94] First openly LGBT African American female Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2014)
  • Michelle Obama (1988):[95] First African American female (a lawyer) to become the First Lady of the U.S. (2009-2017)
  • Tammy Baldwin (1989):[96] First openly LGBT female (a lawyer) to be elected to the U.S. Senate (upon becoming a Senator in Wisconsin in 2012)
  • Jacqueline Nguyen (1991):[97][98][99] First Vietnamese American and Asian-Pacific female to serve on a federal appeals court (2012)
  • Jeannie Hong (1993):[100][101][102] First Korean American female judge in the U.S. and Maryland (2002)
  • Lucy H. Koh (1993):[103] First Korean American female to sit on a federal court in the U.S. (2010)
  • Cathy Bissoon (1993):[104] First South Asian American female to sit on a federal court in the U.S. (2011)
  • Diane Humetewa (1993):[105] First Native American (Hopi) female to serve as a federal judge in the U.S. (2014)
  • Mee Moua (1997):[106][107] First Hmong American female lawyer to become a Senate member (2002)
  • Maura Healey (1998):[108] First openly LGBT female to become a state attorney general in the U.S. and Massachusetts (2015)
  • Sophia Vuelo (1999):[109][110][111][112] First Hmong American female judge in the U.S. and Minnesota (2017)
  • Claudia L. Gordon (c. 2000):[113] First deaf African American female lawyer in the U.S.
  • Sherrie Mikhail Miday (2001):[114][115][116] First Egyptian American female elected as a judge in the U.S. and Ohio (2016)
  • Maite Oronoz Rodríguez (2001):[117] First openly LGBT female justice appointed as a Chief Justice in the U.S. and Puerto Rico (2016)
  • Arsima A. Muller (2005):[118] First Marshallese female lawyer in the U.S.
  • Kyrsten Sinema (2005):[119] First openly LGBT female (a lawyer) elected to the U.S. Congress (2013)
  • Rachel Freier (2006):[120][121] First Hasidic Jewish American female elected as a judge in the U.S. and New York (2017)

Firsts in individual states[edit]

Firsts in Washington, D.C. (Federal District)[edit]

Firsts in the Territories of the U.S.[edit]

See also[edit]

Other topics of interest[edit]

References[edit]

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