Seventy years ago this spring, the first class of women graduated from Harvard Law School. Since the pioneering 14 women graduated in 1953, the legacy and influence of Harvard Law School alumnae has spread quickly into all avenues of law. They have used their Harvard Law education to take them to extraordinary places in the United States and around the world, from being elected to lead a nation, to earning appointments as justices of Supreme Courts across the globe, to becoming partners at law firms and corporations, university presidents, and founders of countless nonprofits, to name just a few of their many accomplishments. Below, explore just a few of their remarkable stories.
As enrollment of women has grown from 2.5% in the first class to 54% in the current class, female students have had a significant impact on the classroom, in student organizations, in the legal profession, public life, and the world beyond Harvard Law School. This gallery provides a look at moments and milestones for over the past 70 years.
Sondra Miller ’53 — a former associate justice of the Supreme Court of New York and currently chief counsel at Goldschmidt & Genovese, in White Plains, New York — recalls her experience as a member of the first class at Harvard Law School to include women. At 94, Miller says she has lived through and benefited from the changes affecting women in the profession and that she’s been “blessed” to witness the progress that has been made.
In the “Countless Stories” video series, Harvard Law alumni from across the generations share their Harvard Law School experience and explain the difference their legal education has made in their lives. Here’s a look back at interviews with several prominent alumnae, including Frederica Brenneman ’53, one of the 14 women who made history as part of the Harvard Law School class of 1953; former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch ’84; Haben Girma ’13, a disability advocate and the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School; and Michelle Wu ’12, the first Asian American woman to serve on the Boston City Council, where she became the first woman of color elected Council president, and later, the first woman of color elected mayor of the City of Boston.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of women at Harvard Law School in 2003, the Harvard Law Bulletin highlighted 50 of the many alumnae who have used their Harvard Law education to take them to extraordinary places.
‘Raising our Voices’
In September 2018, hundreds of alumnae gathered to celebrate the history and legacy of women at Harvard Law School. “Celebration 65” commemorated the 65th anniversary of the first women graduates of Harvard Law School. More than 400 alumnae attended, including three women from the Class of 1953: Nicole Kerno LL.M. ’53, Ann Pfohl Kirby ’53 and Sondra Miller ’53, three of 14 women in that pioneering class who made history as the first alumnae to graduate from Harvard Law School.