Office for Diversity and Inclusion Celebrates #TheFirstTwelve Women Elected to City Bar Membership

First Twelve Women

On October 19, 2018, the New York City Bar Association’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion celebrates 81 years since #TheFirstTwelve women were elected to City Bar membership on October 19, 1937. Articles from the Association’s 44th Street Notes and The New York Herald Tribune highlight the incredible history of these women.

Deborah Martin Owens, Executive Director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, stated, “It is important to remember and commemorate the first women who joined the City Bar, and to see the roots of the Association’s first steps in recognizing the role of diversity in the law. Many of these women were the first in their careers, including Catherine Noyes Lee, who was the first woman partner at a Wall Street law firm and Rosalie Loew Whitney, the first woman to be appointed Acting Attorney Chief of the Legal Aid Society. Moreover, the bravery of the men who sponsored these women’s membership is honorable – and a reminder that even today we need strong allies to help us advance our diversity efforts in the legal profession.”

Special thanks to Richard Tuske, Library Director, at the City Bar for his research.

Dorothy Straus, 1888-1960
Partner, Law Office of Straus & Kenyon
Bryn Mawr College (1908), New York University School of Law (1911)
*Sponsored by Joseph Proskauer of Proskauer Rose LLP

Dorothy Kenyon, 1888-1972
Partner, Law Office of Straus & Kenyon
Smith College (1908), New York University School of Law (1917)
Daughter of William Houston Kenyon of Kenyon & Kenyon
*Sponsored by Elihu Root

Catherine Noyes Lee, 1900-1967
Partner, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
New York University School of Law (1923)
*Sponsored by Henry W. Taft (brother of US President William Howard Taft) and Thomas B. Gilchrist

Susan Brandeis Gilbert, 1893-1975
Special Assistant to the United States Attorney
Bryn Mawr College (1915), University of Chicago Law School (1919)
*Sponsored by James Byrne and C.C. Burlingham (Former City Bar Presidents)

Edna Rapallo, 1893-1942
Associate, Hunt, Hill & Betts
Bryn Mawr College (1915), New York University School of Law (1918)
*Granddaughter of the Honorable Charles A. Rapallo, New York Court of Appeals and a City Bar Founder

Rosalie Loew Whitney, 1873-1939
Acting Attorney in Chief of the New York Legal Aid Society (first woman to hold that position)
Hunter College (1892), New York University School of Law (1895)
*Sponsored by C.C. Burlingham

Mary-Chase Clark, dates unknown
Partner, Saxe, Girdes, Bacon & O’Shea

Mary H. Donlon, 1893-1977
Partner, Burke & Burke; Judge, United States Customs Court
Cornell University, Cornell Law School (the first woman editor-in-chief of any US law review)

Emelyn Laura Mackenzie, dates unknown
Admitted in New York in 1929

Margaret Mary J. Mangan, 1907-1986
Supreme Court of the State of New York
City College of New York, Brooklyn Law School

Margaret May Burnet, dates unknown
Admitted to the New York Bar in 1902

Julia Morris van Dernoot, 1883-1960
Hunter College (1901), New York University School of Law (1921)
Educator and Trustee of Hunter College