Today in Legal History: Woman Lawyer’s Bill Passed in California
Through the efforts of Clara Shortridge Foltz and Laura deForce Gordon, the words “white male” were replaced with “person” in the state requirements to take the bar exam. This had the effect of not only allowing women to take the bar, but minorities as well. Ms. Foltz, the single parent of five children, went on that fall to become the first woman lawyer in California and won court battles to attend Hastings law school. (At the time, it was not atypical to pass the bar prior to attending school). Later in her career, Ms. Foltz drafted a bill that would create a public defender system, which was adopted by 30 states. The Woman Lawyer’s Bill was passed in California on March 28, 1878.
More information is available at:
- Morello, Karen Berger, The Invisible Bar: the woman lawyer in America, 1638 to the present, Random House, c1986, (4th Floor Law Library @ KF299.W6M67 1986)