Elizabeth Garrett (1963-2016) was the first female president of Cornell University.
She ascended to the role in 2015, but served for less than a year, tragically
dying of cancer while in office.
She studied law at the University of
Virginia, and later became a legal advisor for the Iran – US Claim Tribunal at
The Hague. She was a professor and deputy dean for academic affairs at the
University of Chicago and a visiting professor at numerous other institutions
around the world.
Eleanor Holmes Norton (b. 1937) is a lawyer and politician. She is a non-voting Delegate
to the US House of Representatives, as well as a devoted civil rights activist.
She studied law at Yale, and later worked
as the assistant legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1977
she became the first female Chair of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,
and in 1990 she co-founded the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom
Theodora Wood (b. 1947) is a judge and former
police officer from Ghana. She was the first woman to serve as Chief Justice in
the country, a position which she occupied for ten years.
She studied at the Ghana Law School, as
well as the Police College, and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002. She
is also a member of the Council of State and a board member of the
international human rights organisation Global Justice Center.
Barbara Calvert (1926-2015) was a barrister specialising in
family law. She was the first woman Head of Chambers in the United Kingdom.
finished her studied at the London School of Economics and started her profession
at a time when only 3% of barristers were women. In 1974, she established her
own chambers in London, the first woman ever to do so in the country. She was
also the first woman elected as a Bencher of the Middle Temple.
Bolin (1908-2007) was a lawyer and judge who
achieved a number of historic firsts. She was the first black woman to graduate
from Yale Law School, the first to join the New York City Bar Association and
the first to serve as a judge in the United States.
She graduated from Yale Law School in 1931,
from a class where she was the only black student and one of three women. She
was appointed as a judge in 1939 and served in this position for 40 years. She
was also a legal advisor to the National Council of Negro Women and an activist
for education and children’s rights.
Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
(1898-1989) was a trailbrazer for
African American women in the academic environment. She was the first
African-American woman to obtain a PhD in economics in the United States, as
well as the first to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
She was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School in 1923
as its first female African-American student, and was the first to graduate in
1927, the same year she was admitted to the state Bar. She later served as the
President of the John F. Kennedy Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca (b. 1958) is the
current president of Malta, the youngest person and the second woman to hold
this position. She has been in office since 2014.
She has a degree in Legal and Humanistic Studies
and a public notary diploma. In 2014, after taking over the presidency of the
country, she established The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of
Society, a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting social inclusion and
higher living standards.
Caroline Kennedy (b. 1957)
is the daughter of John and Jacqueline Kennedy. She is an attorney and diplomat
who served as the US Ambassador to Japan and dedicated her career to law and
She studied at
Harvard and later earned a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. She has
written two books on civil liberties and supported Democratic candidates for
the US presidency, endorsing causes such as same-sex marriage and abortion
Gertrude Rush (1880-1962) was the first African-American female lawyer in the state of Iowa. She achieved this in 1914, and remained the only African-American woman to practice law in the state for almost 40 years.
In 1921 she became president of the Colored Bar Association. She helped found the Negro Bar Association (known today as the National Bar Association) in 1925, along with other four black lawyers, after they were denied admission to the American Bar Association.
Leah Ward Sears (b. 1955) is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Upon her appointment in 1992, she became the first African-American woman to serve as Chief Justice in the United States, as well as the first woman and the youngest member of Georgia’s Supreme Court.
She also served as a fellow of the Institute of American Values, and taught at the University of Georgia Law School. She is a founder of the Battered Women’s Project in Columbus, Georgia.