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

  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

    1934 Founding Of The PortiaTo meet a new state regulation that candidates for the bar must have at least two years of college under their belts, Portia Law School founder and dean Arthur MacLean establishes the Portia College of Liberal Arts. It eventually becomes the Calvin Coolidge College of Liberal Arts.

    Officers of the Portia College of Liberal Arts student council, academic year of 1938-1939. Courtesy of The Boston Public Library, Print Department

  10. 1939: Fully coeducational

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