Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2008


Modern American





First Page


Last Page



The Washington College of Law and the Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia share an important historical connection; Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett founded both institutions together, in 1898 and 1917, respectively. Mussey and Gillett were pioneers in legal education, legal reform, and the development of women lawyers. 2 More significant than the work they performed during their lives, however, is the legacy of activism, reform, and support that they ignited by founding two institutions that advance women in the law. These institutions have trained and supported generations of women lawyers through world wars and depressions, through the abeyance and resurgence of the women's movement and the ensuing backlash, and through the dramatic changes in the legal profession and legal education that accompanied these events. We celebrate and explore their legacy in this essay.



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