4: Portia School of Law

Pictured Above: A 1940s class in legal history

Location: 45-47 Mount Vernon Street

Portia School of Law began in 1908 when two women who wanted to take the Massachusetts bar examination asked Attorney Arthur W. MacLean to tutor them. His wife, Bertha MacLean, named the nascent school after “Portia” who disguises herself as a lawyer in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The informal school expanded and became the only school providing legal education for women exclusively. Portia Law was incorporated in 1919 and in 1920 the first L.L.B. degrees were awarded to thirty-nine women. The school continued to grow, admitting a few men in 1930. The first woman dean was Margaret H. Bauer (1899-1985), who served in various capacities at the school from 1937 until 1962, becoming dean in 1952. In June 1972, the name of the school was changed to the New England School of Law. It moved to 154 Stuart Street in 1980.

Directions to Next Site: Turn left on Joy Street. Turn left on Pinckney Street.