Spring 2001 | Fall 2000

A Message from the Dean

Our Sesquicentennial Celebration
Election 2000 in Retrospect
Like Father, Like Daughter: Rebecca Lieberman L’97
A Case Study in Pro Bono Public Service
A Legal Thriller:
Lisa Scottoline L '81

The Master Builder Retires: Professor Elizabeth S. Kelly

The Board of Overseers
Philanthropy
Symposium
Faculty Notes
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam

End Page

Penn Law

University of Pennsylvania School of Law Sesquicentennial

Remarks Delivered by
Sandra Day O'Connor
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States

November 17, 2000

President Rodin, Dean Fitts, faculty, students and friends of the University of Pennsylvania. It is a great treat to be here today as you celebrate the 150th birthday of this Law School. I am particularly pleased because the Law School is even older than I am.

This law school has not only a long, but an interesting history. The very first law professor here was one of the framers of our Constitution, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court — no less than James Wilson. Fifteen young men attended his lectures and several attained high office in time.

A former Penn Law School Dean, Owen Roberts, assumed his post here after his resignation from the United States Supreme Court bench in 1945, where he was known as “the vote in time who saved nine.” Another Dean, William Draper Lewis, became the first Director of the American Law Institute and began the work on the Restatement of the Common Law from that position.

This university and its law school have played a very important role in the progress of women in this country from the 19th Century right up to today. Today you have as the University President a dynamic woman leader, Judith Rodin. She is among only a handful of women who have served as President of a major university in this country. She is opening many doors to women in the field of education. The first woman law school graduate in the United States attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her name was Carrie Burnham. She applied to the law department in 1870 and was rejected. When she asked to purchase tickets to his lectures and to study law, the dean of the department replied: “I do not know what the Board of Trustees will do, but as for me, if they admit a woman I will resign for I will neither lecture to [Negroes] nor women.” For the next decade, she and her new husband, Damon Kilgore, fought a long and hard battle in the legislature and in the courts in order to win an opportunity for women to study and to practice law. In 1881, she was finally able to purchase a ticket to attend lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, and on June 17, 1883, Carrie Burnham Kilgore became its first woman graduate. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas was not impressed, however, with Mrs. Kilgore’s law degree because the next year it denied Carrie Kilgore’s motion to be admitted to its bar. Finally, in 1885, Carrie Kilgore convinced the state legislature to change the laws governing bar admission, and in 1886, she was admitted to practice before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Continued . . .

 

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