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Highlights of MWL's History


  • Irene Scott is named first President of Minnesota Women Lawyers.
  • First Project: to advocate for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment by the Minnesota State Legislature.


  • The Honorable Patricia Belois is elected the first president of MWL.
  • Project: to identify all of the women enrolled in law school or licensed to practice in Minnesota. MWL identified about 120 women in law, including 50 law students. More than half joined MWL in the first few years.


  • Rosalie Wahl is appointed to Supreme Court (first woman on Supreme Court).
  • Esther Tomljanovich is appointed to 10th District Court (2nd women district court judge).
  • The MWL newsletter begins.


  • MWL holds press conference to publicly urge the appointment of a woman to the US District Court for Minnesota, and to recommend four candidates: Diana Murphy, Roberta Levy, Delores Orey and Suzanne Sedgwick.
  • MWL incorporates as a non-profit organization.


  • MWL Task Force on the Status of Women in the Legal Profession is announced.
  • Judicial Appointments Committee endorses seven candidates for 4th Judicial District court vacancies: Diana Eagon, Ann Alton, Catherine Anderson, Doris Huspeni, Roberta Levy, Deborah Hedlund, and Cara Lee Neville; Lynn Olson was endorsed for the 10th Judicial District.


  • MWL moves it's operations to an office and hires part-time Executive Director Vivian M. Baumann.


  • MWL Task Force on the Status of Women in the Legal Profession Report published: this is the first state-wide effort of its kind, and brings national attention to MWL.
  • The Myra Bradwell Award is established; Susanne Sedgwick is the first recipient.
  • MWL has more than 700 members and a 24-member Board of Directors.


  • Appointments committee endorses five women for judicial positions: Ann Montgomery, LaJune Lange, Patricia Belois, Beryl Nord, and Pamela Alexander.
  • MWL's Attorney Referral Service begins.


  • MWL Executive Director changes from a part-time to a full-time position.


  • The MWL Mentor Program is established for law students.


  • "Career Paths of Minnesota Law School Graduates” report is published.
  • MWL holds its first Holiday Benefit for battered women's shelters.


  • Professional Parents Committee develops model policies for parental leave and flex-time.
  • Esther Tomljanovich and Sandra Gardebring are appointed to Supreme Court; Minnesota becomes the first state with a majority of women on the Supreme Court.
  • The Equal Justice Award is established.


  • The Leadership Award is established. General Mills law department is named the first recipient.


  • MWL hosts retirement dinner and celebration for Justice Rosalie Wahl; nearly 800 attend.
  • The Rosalie Wahl Leadership Lecture Fund is established at the Minneapolis Foundation with the proceeds of the Retirement dinner


  • Janet Reno speaks at MWL's Annual Meeting, with a record 1,000 people in attendance.
  • MWL sponsors a sold-out "Take Our Daughters to Work Day” program at Hennepin County Government Center.


  • Roe v Wade attorney Sarah Weddington presents the first Rosalie Wahl Leadership Lecture.


  • The Election Endorsement Task Force is formed and a decision is made to endorse candidates in contested judicial and attorney general elections statewide.


  • MWL moves into new offices at City Center.
  • The MWL Central Chapter and MWL South Central Chapter are formed.
  • The Attorney to Attorney Mentor Program begins.


  • The Professional Parents Committee publishes its Life Balance Resource Guide.


  • MWL hosts the first Diversity Event, featuring Karen Clanton, editor of "Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters.”
  • The MWL Advisory Board is formed.
  • The MWL Services to MWL Award is established. The MWL Endorsements Committee is the first recipient.
  • Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaks at MWL's Annual Meeting. Over 1,200 attend.


  • MWL redesigns newsletter into a quarterly publication "With Equal Right.” "The MWL Exchange” is also created as a quarterly calendar of events notice.
  • The MWL website is redesigned.


  • The Rosalie Wahl Leadership Lecture is presented by Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU.
  • White House Correspondent Helen Thomas speaks at MWL's 31st Annual Meeting.


  • Diane Yu, Chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, presents the Rosalie Wahl Leadership Lecture.
  • MWL hosts a successful Midwest Regional Conference for Women in the Law with over 300 attendees from across the region.


  • MWL develops its 2004-2009 Strategic Plan.
  • PBS political reporter and commentator Gwen Ifel speaks at MWL's 33rd Annual Meeting.


  • MWL launches "I am MWL” Campaign to great success. Briggs and Morgan, P.A. and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. provide lead support.
  • The theme "A Whole Life in the Law” guides programs and events for the year.


  • MWL continues with a second year of the "I am MWL” Campaign.
  • Marie Wilson, founder and president of The White House Project, presents the "Rosalie Wahl Leadership Lecture”
  • The Public Policy Advocacy Taskforce is formed; the MWL Board of Directors adopts the Taskforce recommendation and forms the Public Policy Advocacy Committee


  • MWL's Partner campaign, offering legal employers an opportunity to sign up as an annual sponsor, is well received by the legal community.
  • MWL divides its Annual Meeting into two events: the Winter Celebration (February/March) and the Annual Meeting luncheon (May).
  • MWL establishes a law student scholarship fund; the Winter Celebration silent auction is established to benefit the fund.
  • The MWL Northeastern Chapter is formed.


  • MWL continues to offer legal employer Partnerships, and introduces Premier Membership opportunities for individuals, with similar annual benefits.
  • The Board of Directors adopts the 2009-2012 Strategic Plan.
  • The St. Croix Valley Chapter of MWL is formed.


  • With input from the Judicial Taskforce and the Administrative Taskforce, the Board of Directors approves a significant administrative restructure, establishing eleven committees and four affinity groups.
  • The President’s Leadership Circle is formed.
  • MWL redesigns its website and updates its technological capabilities.


  • The MWL Parity Taskforce is created to examine the status of women lawyers in Minnesota and to recommend strategies to reach gender parity in top leadership positions.
  • MWL receives Cy Pres funds to further support its mission.
  • Launch of "The MWL Leadership Project," an 8-month, intensive leadership development program for women attorneys. 
  • Launch of the MWL Compendium, an on-line data base providing up-to-date research on the status of women in the law in the United States. 


  • MWL updates its Strategic Plan through fiscal year 2014-2015.
  • "Celebrating Success," a new feature on MWL's LinkedIn page, provides a forum for women attorneys to talk about and publicize their accomplishments, amplify women's voices across the state of Minnesota, and broadcast the impressive and outstanding successes of our members.
  • MWL welcomes Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize recipient, best-selling author of Half the Sky, business executive as its 2012 Winter Celebration keynote speaker.


  • MWL offered many programs and initiatives around the theme of "Creating Connections" among 1) diverse attorneys; 2) diverse practice types; 3) across the state; and 4) across generations.   
  • MWL welcomes Sara Goldstein as its full-time Communications Coordinator.
  • The Board of Directors accepts the 501(c)3 Taskforce's recommendation to establish a 501(c)3 charitable arm of Minnesota Women Lawyers. The implementation process will begin in 2013-2014.
  • MWL establishes the MWL Altman Memorial Scholarship, to honor former MWL President Leslie Altman and her legacy within the legal community.


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Minnesota Women Lawyers
600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 390B
Minneapolis, MN 55402

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