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New England Law | Boston has upheld a legacy of revolution, evolution, and excellence for more than a century. Explore our law school timeline to learn about our school origin.

New England Law | Boston’s Origin

New England Law | Boston began in 1908 as Portia Law School, which offered a legal education exclusively to women at a time when most other institutions would not accept them at all. The early Portia Law School students were primarily from working-class and immigrant families and many had only a high school education, since the state did not require a college degree to study law. For decades, most of the women who passed the Massachusetts bar examination were Portia graduates.

There have been many dramatic changes over the past century, including new and updated physical facilities, name changes, a diverse student body of both men and women, and a curriculum that has expanded to include global issues. Through it all, the school has stayed true to its core value: a commitment to offering an excellent foundation for a legal career to those who seek opportunity for themselves and are willing to work for it.

Photo of the graduating class of 1939 emphasizes New England Law | Boston’s law school history.
Members of the graduating class of 1939 (courtesy of the Boston Public Library).

1908: Portia Law School is founded as the only law school in the country exclusively for women.

1923: Blanche Braxton ’21 becomes the first African American woman to be admitted to the Massachusetts bar.

1938: Portia Law School becomes coeducational as men begin attending.

1962: Margaret H. Bauer, a graduate of Portia Law School, becomes its first female dean.

1965: The first edition of the Portia Law Journal launches. Today, the journal is the New England Law Review.

1969: The American Bar Association grants accreditation to Portia Law School (renamed New England School of Law).

1973: William O. Douglas is the first of eight Supreme Court justices to visit New England Law.

1980: New England School of Law moves to expanded facilities.

1990: The Charles Hamilton Houston Enrichment Program is established to address racial bias, promote law school diversity, and provide a supportive community for minority students.

1997: New England School of Law is a founding member of the Consortium for Innovative Legal Education, Inc.

1998: New England School of Law becomes a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

2008: Our second century begins with a new name: New England Law | Boston.

2014: New England Law | Boston launches concentrations in two growing fields—Immigration Law and Intellectual Property (IP) Law.