The History of Women at the William and Mary Law School

logoThe William and Mary Law School recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first woman to graduate from the institution. Virginia Mister enrolled at the law school in 1935 and was awarded a degree in 1937. She was one of only five students in her law school class.

Virginia Mister thumbnailShe was a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she played on the basketball team, was in the glee club, and was president of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

After graduating from law school and passing the bar, she took a job as a stenographer at a Norfolk law firm. After World War II, she worked at the United Nations for 25 years, serving as the director of the Legal, Political, and Security Council Affairs Library. She later returned to Virginia for retirement. She died in 2003.

Three years after Mister earned her degree, Laeititia Armistead was the valedictorian of the eight-member Class of 1940 at the law school. By 1970 only 27 women earned law degrees at William and Mary. Just 11 years later in 1981, women made up 40 percent of the incoming class. In 1989, for the first time, women were a majority of the first-year class.

Here is a slideshow documenting the early history of women at the law school.

Filed Under: Professional SchoolsWomen's Studies


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