As we celebrate 75 years of the State Bar of Texas throughout 2014, we would like to acknowledge the many women who have broken barriers, played a role in gaining equality for all, opened doors for others, provided legal expertise to those in need, worked extremely hard, and inspired. There are well-known names—and also some ordinary heroes. To get just an inkling of what women lawyers in Texas have accomplished since the bar was founded in 1939, we’ve put together a representative timeline of notable events and people, which is by no means exhaustive. There are simply too many remarkable women in Texas to include them all here. 1939: The State Bar Act is passed, creating the State Bar of Texas. Wives of male attorneys far outnumber practicing women at the bar’s annual meeting. 1942: Marguerite Rawalt, of Corpus Christi, serves as president of the National Association of Women Lawyers. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appoints her to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. 1950: The census reports 224 female attorneys in Texas. 1957: Gladys Melton is elected president of the Dallas County Criminal Bar Association. Two years later, the organization names her Criminal Lawyer of the Year. 1957: Beverly Tarpley, who had been the only woman in her class at the University of Texas School of Law, argues a case (Thomson v. Texas and Pacific Ry. Co.) before the U.S. Supreme Court at age 27 and reportedly is the first Texas woman to do so. 1941: Mary Kate Parker, Ione Stumberg, and Virginia Grubbs are hired as briefing attorneys at the Texas Supreme Court. The women replace three men who left to fight in World War II and agree to give up their jobs once the men return from military duty. 1949: Patsy Smith graduates from Southern Methodist University School of Law and goes on to become one of the first women attorneys in Lubbock. 1951: Lois L. Woods earns a law degree from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, making her the institution’s first African-American woman graduate. She later becomes the first African-American woman appointed to the American Arbitration Association of Texas. 1955: Margaret Harris Amsler becomes a full professor at Baylor Law School after teaching there for about 15 years. At this time, only a handful of women in America have received full professor status at law schools, and reportedly none in Texas. 1962: Carolyn Dineen King graduates from Yale Law School and is refused a job in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston. Seventeen years later, King becomes the second woman to serve on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and in 1999 is its first female chief judge. 1966: Barbara Jordan becomes the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate. She goes on to become the first African-American woman from the South elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Jordan once said, “I am neither a black politician nor a female politician. Just a politician. A professional politician.” 1969: Former teacher Irma Rangel, who is in her late thirties, graduates from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Nearly a decade later, she becomes the first Mexican-American woman elected to the Texas Legislature, representing Kenedy, Kleberg, Willacy, and Hidalgo counties in South Texas. 1976: Marian Boner, the first director of the Texas State Law Library, publishes A Reference Guide to Texas Law and Legal History, which becomes a respected source of information on the development of Texas laws and statutes and the state’s various constitutions. 1971: Twenty-six year old University of Texas School of Law graduate Sarah Weddington argues Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court. On Jan. 22, 1973, the decision comes down making abortion legal in all states. 1976: Jane Yount is presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award by South Texas College of Law, making the 1958 graduate the first woman to receive the honor. 1984: Linda Addison, who received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, wins a case that found Texas’s no-shopping- on-Sunday blue law unconstitutional. Addison now serves as managing partner for the United States practice of one of the largest law firms in the world. “The truth is,” said Addison, “that case was perceived to be a loser. I think if anyone had thought that that was a good case or that that case was winnable, it would not have been given to a woman. The morning after I won the blue law case, I must say I woke up feeling like I must be the best lawyer in the state of Texas.” 1967: Led by State Bar of Texas Family Law Section chair Louise Raggio and Southern Methodist University law professor Joseph W. McKnight, the Marital Property Bill passes and is signed by Gov. John Connally, enabling women to conduct certain financial and business transactions without their husbands’ permission. This is the first in a series of successes, leading to a sweeping overhaul of various statutes that results in the Texas Family Code, which is thought to be the world’s first domestic relations law code. 1970s: In Texas, and across the nation, women enroll in law school at record rates—a result of the ever-changing social environment. 1979: Gabrielle Kirk McDonald is appointed as judge in the Southern District of Texas, becoming the state’s only African-American judge of a U.S. district court at this time. Judge McDonald currently serves on the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in the Netherlands. “Our Constitution with the amendments to it has so many guarantees that don’t exist in other countries,” McDonald told the Texas Bar Journal. “And I’ve learned that and seen that by working in the international arena. We have a lot to be proud about in terms of what is said on paper. But the question is, do we carry that out?” 1980: The Women and the Law Section of the State Bar of Texas is formed. 1984: Austin lawyer Berry Crowley becomes the first woman president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. 1987: Hannah Chow is elected as judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 5 and is one of the first Asian-Americans elected in the county. 1993: University of Texas School of Law graduate Kay Bailey Hutchison becomes the first and only woman from Texas to serve in the U.S. Senate. 1994: There are 20,423 members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association and 7,659 of them are women attorneys. By 2003, 8,890 women are members out of a total of 21,372. 1989: State Bar President Darrell E. Jordan forms a special committee to study the role of women in the legal profession in Texas and to make recommendations to the bar’s board of directors on ways to improve women’s role in and contributions to the profession. 1990: There are 11,553 women attorneys in Texas and a total of 54,783 attorneys in the state, making women just more than 20 percent of the State Bar membership. 1990: Karen R. Johnson serves as the first woman executive director of the State Bar of Texas. 1992: Harriet Miers begins her term as the first woman State Bar of Texas president and Colleen McHugh serves as the first woman chair of the bar’s board of directors. 1992: The State Bar of Texas Women and the Law Section establishes the Sarah T. Hughes Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. It honors women who have earned outstanding recognition in their professional area and have paved the way for success for other women attorneys. The first recipients are Louise B. Raggio and Harriet Miers. 1993: The Texas Minority Counsel Program is created. Its mission is to increase opportunities for minority and women attorneys who provide legal services to corporate and government clients, and to expose those organizations to the talent found in the minority and women lawyer communities. 2006: Dallas lawyer Kim Askew, a former chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors, is the first African-American woman to chair the Section of Litigation of the American Bar Association. 2005: Texas’s 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio becomes the nation’s first all-woman court of appeals. 2009: Eva Guzman becomes the first Hispanic woman on the Texas Supreme Court. 2009: Texas A&M University honors graduate Phyllis R. Frye by announcing an award created in her name. A year later, Frye, a champion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender causes, becomes the state’s first transgender judge. 2010: Judge Harriet M. Murphy is inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame. A champion of diversity, the University of Texas School of Law graduate was the first African-American woman appointed to a regular judgeship in Texas in 1973. 2013: As of Dec. 31, 2013, there are 31,906 women attorneys admitted to the Texas Bar, representing just more than 33 percent of total members. 2008: The State Bar of Texas publishes Rough Road to Justice, a historical narrative of the journey of women attorneys in the state, written by Houston historian Betty Trapp Chapman. “Researching the historic road traveled by women lawyers in Texas was a fascinating project,” said Chapman. “As I probed into the past, I discovered that these women were persistent in their efforts, dedicated to the law, and eminently qualified to stand before the bar.” 2013: Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law announces the selection of Jennifer M. Collins as dean. 2013: Jillian Marullo, the high scorer on the February 2013 bar examination, tells the crowd at her law class State Bar induction ceremony in Austin: “As we embark on this journey, it is my hope that we will always have the strength and courage to act with dignity, strive for justice, and choose to do what is right, even if that means steering ourselves down the more difficult path.” 2013: Lisa M. Tatum of San Antonio becomes the first African-American president of the State Bar of Texas.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/Gaining+Ground/1643097/198757/article.html.