New England Law | Boston

A Women’s Law School

1908

Students surround school founder Arthur MacLean, 1938. Courtesy of The Boston Public Library, Print Department

As an institution tailored to women from working-class families, Portia Law School was sensitive to financial and time pressures, offering part-time enrollment. And when the state toughened requirements for law students, Portia added resources like a GED-equivalency program and college-level courses.

Out of financial necessity, particularly during the Great Depression, Portia Law School began opening up its programs to male students. Like their female classmates, the men were drawn to the school’s flexible approach and established reputation.

  1. 1908: First steps

  2. 1918: Becoming official

  3. 1919: First student organizations

  4. 1920: Changing rules

    1920 Changing RulesMassachusetts now requires that all bar applicants have a high school degree, so in 1921 Portia founder Arthur MacLean establishes a summer school where pupils can earn their GED in just nine weeks.

    Portia Law School class of 1928. Courtesy of New England School of Law Library Archives

  5. 1921: Move to Beacon Hill

  6. 1926: Establishment of a Master’s program

  7. 1927: First publications

  8. 1930: First male graduates

  9. 1934: Founding of the Portia College of Liberal Arts

  10. 1939: Fully coeducational

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