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‘You’re Just Here
to Find a Husband’
BY KENNA SIMMONS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF CRAVOTTA
An oral history of the first group of female attorneys
in North Carolina in the 1970s
Some were supported by their family; others had to secretly apply to law school.
Some were inspired by trailblazers like Susie Sharp, the first female chief justice of a
state supreme court. Some only realized they wanted to practice law after they got
into law school.
Their stories are as different as their lives, but all share a common theme: the status
as one of the first female attorneys—in the class, in the firm, in the room.
“When I first started, I would go to meetings and I would be the only woman there,”
remembers Elizabeth “Betty” Quick, a past president of the North Carolina Bar
Association. “Now sometimes … there won’t be any men there.”
It all happened so fast. According to a Cornell Law Faculty Publications article,
women went from only 4 percent of lawyers in 1970 to 12. 4 percent in 1980. Women
who couldn’t help but stand out when they started practicing law started to blend in.
But the path wasn’t easy. Here are their stories.