“[Her Iowa bar examination gave] the very best rebuke possible to the imputation that ladies cannot qualify for the practice of law.”
Arabella Mansfield became the first woman lawyer in the United States in 1869, when she was admitted to the Iowa bar after successfully challenging the state’s exclusionary law. She spent her career in academia, as a college educator and administrator. Mansfield was also active in the women’s suffrage movement, working with Susan B. Anthony to advance the cause.
The Diversity Lab’s “Mansfield Rule,” a tribute to Mansfield, measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30% of their lawyers who are women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and disabled for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.