Salute the Trailblazers–Look How Far We Have(n’t) Come..

I recently received an email from my former Firm, attaching the obituary of Virginia Aldrich, a prominent Boston attorney who  grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts. Miss Aldrich was among a  small but hugely influential band of women who blazed the trail into private law practice for female lawyers.

Here are some things worth knowing about this trailblazer:

300hMs. Aldrich graduated from Radcliffe College (now part of Harvard) in 1945.  She was barred from Harvard Law School, where her two older, but not as qualified, brothers had gone.Ms. Aldrich pressed ahead and went to Georgetown Law School, graduating in 1957 as its first female Editor of the Law Review.  Immediately after graduation, she joined the Boston firm  of Palmer & Dodge (now Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge).  She  was promoted to Partner in 1969, the first woman ever to attain that status in a major Boston law firm.

Virginia Aldrich would be disappointed to learn that, in most law firms, the number of women equity partners has barely broken the 15% mark.  (The year she made partner my classmates and I were standing shoulder to shoulder, demonstrating in Washington D.C. against the war in Vietnam. We’re pretty disappointed too.)

Ms. Aldrich had no children, but she did have 11 nieces and nephews.

She drove a Mercedes speedster.

So, in 2010, inexplicably, women lawyers are still doing the baby steps thing.   Your example, Ms. Aldrich, is heartening.  Thank you for taking on the challenge on our behalves, so many years ago.

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