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

  5. 1921: Move to Beacon Hill

    1921 Move To Beacon HillPortia Law School moves from the Tremont Temple building at 88 Tremont Street to new facilities at 45 Mount Vernon Street. The school’s stature continues to grow. All women who pass the Massachusetts bar in 1921 are Portia Law School graduates.

    45 Mount Vernon Street on the left, State House in center.
    Courtesy of New England School of Law Library Archives

  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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