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Home / Supplements and Special Sections / WJA 2019 / From the publisher: Blazing Legal Trails

From the publisher: Blazing Legal Trails

Sandra Day O’Connor donned the black robes of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981. A little more than a decade later, Janet Reno became the first woman to serve as the U.S. Attorney General.

The list of female legal trail blazers goes back at least 150 years to Lemma Barkeloo, the first U.S. woman admitted to law school — at Washington University.

And while those significant contributions may have cracked the profession’s glass ceiling, it remains intact.

Today, men and women are entering law school in equal numbers, and nearly 40 percent of the practicing attorneys in the United States are women. But parity continues to elude women in the boardroom, the paycheck and in the courtroom.

A recent study by the American Bar Association shows women make up just 17 percent of the equity partners in large firms and 22 percent of corporate counsel at Fortune 500 companies. And when it comes to the courtroom, 27 percent of those entering appearances as trial attorneys are women and less than a quarter are lead counsel.

Certainly there has been progress toward gender parity in the profession — much of it in the past decade. But there is still so much more to do.

The attorneys we honor this year with our Women’s Justice Awards are remarkable in many ways — regardless of the chromosomes they carry. They found their voices. Blazed trails. Climbed mountains.

In its 21st year, this recognition program honors those who have improved Missouri’s legal community. We looked for women who hold positions of strength, who lead firms boldly, who wear their battle scars proudly, who serve the underprivileged, who aspire to a new future, who support the legal profession or who teach the next generation of lawyers.

And we found them.

Our panel of distinguished members of the 2019 selection committee reviewed scores of nominations that included women from every spectrum of the profession and throughout the state. They judged these nominations based on the core principles of leadership, professionalism, accomplishment and passion for making a difference.

It is my honor and my privilege to present these women to you today with this special Missouri Lawyers Media publication.

We appreciate their contributions, and we marvel at their success. It has come, after all, with a level of gender disparity that makes each of the roads they’ve traveled a little more difficult than those of their male counterparts.

Missouri Lawyers Media proudly salutes these remarkable women.


Liz Irwin

Publisher, Missouri Lawyers Media