Celebrating the work of the WBA’s first 100 years, and shaping the future of women lawyers for the next 100 years
May 17, 2017, marked the Centennial of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia (WBA). We joined together to celebrate 100 years of the WBA advocating for equality, advancement and social justice.
In 1917, as the twentieth century moved through its second decade, women still:
- Could not vote;
- Could not serve on a jury;
- Were largely denied entry into law schools and the practice of law; and
- Were excluded from what was then the only bar association in the District of Columbia.
Faced with these restrictions, and against the backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement, on May 17, 1917, 31 women lawyers, led by Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett, established the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. At that time, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia did not admit women.
The WBA has fought for almost 100 years to open doors. In the early 1960s, with the leadership and courage of Dovey Johnson Roundtree and then-President Joyce Hens Green the WBA “broke the color line” that had segregated bar associations in DC by race.
The WBA celebrated its Centennial by honoring the legacy of these trailblazers in the continuing fight for equality and access. In 2016 and 2017, the WBA marked its Centennial through special events, programming, and the pursuit of a historic preservation project.
On May 17, 2017, we marked the WBA’s significant milestones with a Centennial Celebration at our Annual Dinner. As the WBA bar year came to an end, the WBA used the lessons learned from the past to help lay the groundwork and look ahead to the next 100 years.
The WBA is grateful for the significant support provided by the WBA Foundation for our Centennial Celebration efforts.
100 years fighting for equality, advancement, and social justice – the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia
Groundbreaking then, Vital now, and critical for the next 100 years and beyond
for an overview of milestones and accomplishments of the Women’s Bar Association.
Committee Leaders and Activities
The Centennial Committee is led by three past president co-chairs:
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, LLP
WBA President 2003-2004
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
WBA President 2002-2003
Lorelie S. Masters
Perkins Coie LLP
WBA President 2007-2008