America's First Female Lawyer

America’s First Female Lawyer

The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) has partnered with renowned custom publisher Faircount Media Group in the production of a special commemorative publication celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first woman admitted to the practice of law in the U.S., Arabella Mansfield. The publication will tell the story of Arabella Mansfield and how she became the trailblazer for women in law. We will examine the impact many exceptional women have had on the industry and how female lawyers in many states have played their part in the development and growth, diversity and equality within law firms and legal history. The publication will also feature many of the law firms, both big and small, who have led the way for equality and diversity and making sure that all have a place no matter of gender, race or color.

Arabella A. Mansfield became the first female lawyer in the United States in 1869, admitted to the Iowa bar; she made her career as a college educator and administrator. Despite an Iowa state law restricting the bar exam to males, Mansfield had taken it and earned high scores. Shortly after her court challenge, Iowa amended its licensing statute and became the first state to accept women and minorities into its bar.

The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) is a unique organization of women’s bar associations, for women’s bar associations, representing approximately 35,000 women lawyers. It provides a national forum for exchanging ideas and information vital to organizational growth and success in today’s profession.


Editorial Content

Profile of Arabella Mansfield
2019 marks 150 years since Arabella Mansfield became the first woman lawyer admitted to a bar assocation in the United States. In light of this significant anniversary, this piece will tell Mansfield’s story – her upbringing; passing the bar exam in 1869 though it was then open only to white men 21 and older; subsequently challenging the law that excluded her and, with the court ruling that women could not be denied the right to practice law in Iowa, being admitted to the bar; and her lifelong support for equal rights for women – and explore the impact that her best-known achievement has had for women and minorities in the field of law and for the legal profession itself.
The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations
The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) is an organization of women’s bar associations for women’s bar associations, and it represents approximately 35,000 women lawyers. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas, information, and inspiration for women in law practice. This article will describe the history of women establishing law associations of their own and how and why NCWBA entered into that landscape when it was established in 1981. Additionally, the piece will explore how NCWBA has developed and evolved since its founding and how it operates and serves its members today.
Member Histories - Past, Present, and Future
As an “association of associations,” NCWBA’s member are organizations with their own storied pasts. In their own words, NCWBA member organizations share their histories – how and when they came to be established, noteworthy leadership and achievements, their impact on the legal profession and women practicing law in it, and their endeavors today
Organizations, Committees, and Councils that make up the NCWBA Organizations, Committees, and Councils that make of the NCWBA
Profiles of Prominent Women Attorneys
While Arabella Mansfield may have opened the door to the legal profession for women in 1869, others followed her lead and made strides for women lawyers. This portion of the magazine will include small profiles of other pioneering women lawyers whose actions have moved women in law practice forward.
Attorney Generals Attorney Generals
United States Circuit Court Judges United States Circuit Court Judges
Supreme Court Justices Supreme Court Justices
Looking to the Future
Research shows men and women enter law school and the legal profession in equivalent numbers, but women lawyers hold far fewer positions of leadership and power in companies, law firms, and academia. This article will describe the current state of the legal profession in regard to women’s place in it as well as what is changing for them and how. We will look at who is working toward a more equal and more diverse professional landscape, and what their methods are to achieve that vision.
Women in Law Schools
Women in Leadership Positions
Women Attorneys in Public Service


Raising the Bar: America Celebrates 150 Years of Women Lawyers will be distributed extensively throughout a national community of legal professionals dedicated to the development and improvement of the legal profession and its many related disciplines. Copies will be circulated by controlled distribution to NCWBA members and member organizations, law firms, attorneys, legal professionals, legal academicians, law schools, associations, not-for-profits, and the offices of Chief Legal Officers and General Counsel within Fortune 1000 companies across the country.



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Contact Info

Steve Chidel, Project Sales Manager

T: +1 (813) 675-3816