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Celebrating 100 Years of Women Being Admitted to NH Bar
Published Monday, July 10, 2017

A portrait of Marilla Ricker, a suffragist, philanthropist and lawyer, was recently installed in the NH Statehouse, honoring her for helping women in NH break through the legal community’s glass ceiling. She was instrumental in getting women admitted into the NH Bar.

The irony is that Ricker, who practiced law in Washington D.C., never served as a lawyer in NH. In fact, it would take 17 years for the first woman to be admitted to the NH Bar. That was Agnes Winifred McLaughlin on June 30, 1917.

She was joined, three years later, by Jennie Blanche Newhall. And it would take 60 years before a total of 100 women would be admitted to the NH Bar. These numbers have progressed quite a bit since then; in 2016 alone, about 125 women were admitted to the NH Bar.

New Hampshire's legal community is cele-brating the advancement’s 100th anniversary of women being admitted to the bar. “We want to honor our past, look at where we are today and celebrate where we are going,” says Jennifer Parent, director and chair of the Litigation Department at McLane Middleton in Manchester.

Parent was on the committee organizing the anniversary event, which was held June 1 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.

So what is the status of women in the Bar and the judiciary?

• As of April, 34.5 percent of the NH Bar Association’s active members are women. 

• The NH Bar Association has had 10 women bar presidents in its history. The first was elected in 1992 while five women have served as bar president in the last seven years.

• The percentage of women obtaining JDs from law schools is 47 percent, according to the American Bar Association.

“While we have made significant strides, we look at wanting more women in positions of leadership and in equity positions in firms,” Parent says. She says while the number of women in leadership positions in the judiciary is rising, the number of women in the bar nationally has remained stagnant at between 31 and 35 percent in recent years.

The NH Bar Foundation coordinated the celebration with the NH Bar Association, the Gender Equality Committee, NH Women’s Bar Association, the NH Supreme Court Society, the Daniel Webster-Batchelder American Inn of Court and the NH Association for Justice.

For more information, visit nhbarfoundation.org.

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