Influential Women in Law

Women In Law Edition 22'

Philosophy and Thought


Paola Bergauer

“If society today allows wrongs to go unchallenged, the impression is created that those wrongs have the approval of the majority.” Barbra Charline Jordan

Barbra Charline Jordan, an American politician and civil rights activist, earned a BA from Texas Southern University in 1956 and a law degree from Boston University in 1959. That same year, she was admitted to the Texas and Massachusetts bars. She began to practice law in Houston, Texas, in 1960.

Jordan was the first African-American Texan elected to Congress; the first African-American woman to serve in the Texas State Senate; the first woman to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention; and the first woman to erect a statue in her honor at the University of Texas.

The Barbara Jordan Forever Stamp was announced in 2011 to be issued as the 34th stamp in the U.S. stamp Black Heritage series.

Shirley Chisholm

“I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo. The next time a woman runs, or a black man, or a Jew, or anyone from a group that the country is ‘not ready' to elect to its highest office, I believe that he or she will be taken seriously from the start.” - Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm is known for being the first black candidate to run for a major party's nomination for President of the United States in the 1972 presidential election. She is also known as the first black woman elected to the United States Congress (1968). Shirley Chisholm continued to serve in Congress until 1983.

Shirley Chisholm advocated for immigrants, pushed for expanded childcare for women, and supported a federally-funded food stamp program. Her successes in the legislature included getting unemployment benefits extended to domestic workers.

Marian Wright Edelman

“Be a good ancestor. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Add value to the Earth during your sojourn.” - Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman, a graduate of Yale Law School and an American activist, founded the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in 1973. Edelman was the first African-American woman to pass the state bar exam and be admitted to the Mississippi Bar.

As the CDF's founder and chief executive officer, Edelman has worked to increase Medicaid coverage for poor children, decrease teenage pregnancy, and secure government funding for childcare programs such as Head Start.