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

  10. 1939: Fully coeducational

    1939 Fully CoeducationalIn 1938, the law school is granted the authority to award the Bachelor of Laws degree to men. In 1939, Thomas J. Haggerty becomes Portia Law School’s first male LL.B recipient.

    Four students stand in front of school’s entrance at 45 Mount Vernon Street. 1939. Courtesy of The Boston Public Library, Print Department

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