Women Trailblazers


Until the early twentieth century, women were considered unfit to be lawyers, and the legal profession was considered unfit for women. In Tennessee, trailblazing women, like Marian Griffin and Camille Kelley, defied these gender-based stereotypes by becoming respected lawyers and judges. Many other trailblazing women followed after them. The number and prominence of women lawyers and judges have grown dramatically, and the gender landscape of the profession has changed significantly.

Many of the former barriers to women entering the profession have become almost nonexistent. While many women lawyers have climbed and are climbing the ladder of success, a great amount of work remains to be done to continue empowering women in the law and to create a truly inclusive profession.

The members of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court believe that preserving and telling the stories of the women lawyers and judges in Tennessee who shattered the glass ceilings, forced open the doors, and paved the way for the women coming after them can be a bridge between the past and the future. Accordingly, the Inn has embarked on a project to prepare biographical profiles of trailblazing women in the law in Tennessee.

These stories will preserve their legacy and will inspire others to continue the work they started many decades ago.