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Women in the Law

Dorothy Nelson

USC Law has a legacy of supporting women's power and influence in the legal profession. The five women on the committee that founded the school began a tradition of women in leadership roles that has been perpetuated throughout the school's history.

In 1911, USC formed the nation's first female law-student sorority, Phi Delta Delta. By 1930, USC Law was a national leader in preparing women for careers in law, and, in 1968, it became the first leading law school with a female dean, Dorothy Nelson.

Today, women constitute approximately half of each class and continue to succeed, both in the classroom and in their careers following law school.

Notable among USC Law's female alumni are:

  • Litta Belle Hibben Campbell ’13, the first woman to graduate number one in her class, and the first female Deputy District Attorney in the United States.
  • Mabel Walker Willebrandt ’16, LL.M. ’17, was the country's most prominent female attorney from the 1920s through the ’40s. She served as Assistant U.S. Attorney General from 1921-29.
  • Yvonne B. Burke ’56, the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress from California, and the first African-American to serve as chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
  • Joyce L. Kennard ’74, the first Asian-American female justice to serve on the California Supreme Court.
  • Amy Trask ’85, the first and only female CEO of a National Football League team (the Oakland Raiders).
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