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Moments in Our Early History

  • April 13, 1920 – Portia Law School’s chapter of Phi Delta Delta hosted a lecture by Arctic explorer Donald B. MacMillian.
  • June 3, 1926 – A portrait of Arthur W. MacLean, painted by Boston artist Howard E. Smith, was presented to the school during the 15th Annual Commencement Exercises as a gift from students and alumnae.
  • January 1927 – Helen Thompson (’28) is unanimously elected to become the editor-in-chief of the “Legalite,” the first Portia Law School yearbook.
  • April 20, 1929 – Dean Arthur W. MacLean announced that beginning in 1931, all students applying to Portia must be high school graduates or have an equivalent education.
  • October 1931 – Judge Emma Fall Schofield, the first woman judge in Massachusetts, began teaching a moot court course at Portia Law School.  The school’s first moot court trial was held on February 26, 1932, under Judge Schofield’s supervision, with students trying two women accused of murdering a female friend.  Judge Schofield joined the Portia faculty in August 1932 and taught classes in deeds, mortgages and easements, and examination of land titles, as well as supervising the moot court class.
  • March 12, 1932 – The first issue of “The Portia Prattler” is published. 

Fun Facts in Portia History

  • Tuition at Portia Law School in 1919 was $75.00 per year.  The estimated cost for books and other expenses was less than $10.00 per year.
  • Harriet Weiler (’14) passed the bar the year she graduated and became president of the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers in 1922.
  • Stella D. Rothwell (’22) and her twin sister, Marjorie, were two of 17 women to pass the Massachusetts Bar Exam in 1922.
  • The first issue of the Portia Punster was published in February 1926, by members of the Class of 1927.
  • Salley E. Fay graduated from Portia Law School magna cum laude at age 19 but couldn’t take the Massachusetts Bar Exam until she turned 21 in 1928.         
  • After successfully arguing a court case involving the government’s right to seize a boat used for rum smuggling, assistant district attorney Ellen L. Buckley (’23) was presented with a rose by the presiding judge.
  • Representing a client charged with drunken driving, Margaret M. McChesney (’21) became the first women lawyer to appear before the full bench of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1926.
  • Bella Liberman(’26) won her first jury trial on October 30, 1929, successfully defending her brother against charges he struck a woman while driving his car.
  • Husband and wife Frank and Isabelle Cheney studied at Portia Law School together and received their master’s of laws degrees on June 8, 1932.
  • The law school celebrated “Portia Law School Night” at the Boston Pops on several occasions, including Friday, May 19, 1922, when the program proclaimed “Portia Law School Night” on Friday, May 16, 1924, when the program noted that “The Portia Law School has taken a section of the floor for this concert.”