A panel of distinguished female legal professionals spotlighted “Myra Bradwell: The Practice of Law in the Wake of Her Legacy,” a special event in honor of Women’s History Month held March 21 at NIU.
The program began with a dramatic interpretation by Rachel Morse, an attorney with the firm of Jenner & Block. Morse spoke in character as Myra Bradwell and others, presenting a timeline of her struggle for admission to the Illinois bar in 1893. Bradwell’s petition for inclusion was denied on several occasions due to her gender.
Following the performance, seven female judges and a prominent female attorney engaged in a panel discussion regarding the progress women lawyers have made since Bradwell, the struggles women continue to face in the legal profession, and the future of women in the law.
Distinguished panelists included Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman; Supreme Court Justices Anne M. Burke and Mary Jane W. Theis; First District Appellate Court Justices Joy V. Cunningham and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall; Second District Appellate Court Justice Susan F. Hutchinson; Judge Diane P. Wood, chief judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit; and Jennifer K. Gust, partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Chicago.
ISBA President Paula H. Holderman moderated the discussion.
An exhibit set up by the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission featured Myra Bradwell and other early women lawyers. A copy of “Myra Bradwell: In Light of Experience,” a book by state historian John Lupton, was also given to each attendee. Following the program, a reception was held in the Thurgood Marshall Gallery at the NIU College of Law.