Full name: Pearl M. Kennedy Hilbert Roberts
13 July 1884, in Choteau, Montana
John A. Kennedy and Kate Mcquaig
Nashville College of Law (1902-1903)
10 July 1902 — Butte InterMountain
“The free scholarship for a woman in the National College of Law in Nashville, Tenn., was yesterday offered by State Superintendent W. W. Welch to Miss Pearl M. Kennedy of Choteau. It is good for three years. Miss Kennedy is a teacher in the Choteau school and has distinguished herself by contributing some poems which bear the marks of genius to the Rocky Mountain Magazine and other publications.”
Law office of R. Edward Hilbert
Admitted to Practice:
- Montana 1906
- Washington (between 1906 and 1908)
- R. Edward Hilbert, 14 June 1904
- Herbert Prescott Wilks Roberts, 2 July 1914
23 March 1910 – The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
WOMEN LAWYERS WAR OVER FEES; FIRM DISSOLVES
Leonia W. Browne Breaks Legal Partnership with Pearl K. Hilbert
Both Equal Suffragists
Divorced Their Husbands and Set Themselves Up as Sympathizing
With Sisters in Like Temporary Distress for a Reasonable Fee
* * * * * *
“I want half the profits!”
“You can have only a third!”
“Well, then I quit!”
With these words the curtain rang down yesterday on the last act of a drama in three acts.
Act 1 – Two women lawyers, each armed with a decree of divorce from her husband, meet in suffrage work.
Act 2 – The two suffragists form the only firm of divorced women lawyers in the country.
Act 3 – They quarrel over the division of profits and dissolve the law firm, each planning to open separate offices in the same suite in the Central building, the suite occupied by the Washington Political Equality League
Browne & Hilbert No More
Browne & Hilbert, organized the first of the year as the only firm of divorced women practicing lawyers in the United States, exists no more.
Quarreling over a division of the profits, Mrs. Leonia Windsor Browne and Mrs. Pearl Kennedy Hilbert yesterday signed articles dissolving partnership. Mrs. Browne gave back the $200 that Mrs. Hilbert put into the firm and the articles witness that Mrs. Browne is to continue the business of the firm and keep all of the assets. Mrs. Hilbert announced yesterday that she would open an office on her own.
Officers in Equality League
Both are officers of the Washington Political Equality League, with headquarters in the Central building. The law firm of Browne & Hilbert had its offices there. Mrs. Browne is vice president and campaign manager for Western Washington of the league and Mrs. Hilbert is secretary. Both assert that they have a right to open their separate offices in the league headquarters and that they intend to do so. How the league, the two separate law offices and Mrs. James Anderson, who is chairman of the executive committee of the league, will find space to do business in the three rooms of the headquarters is a problem.
Mrs. Browne’s Statement
Mrs. Brown typewrote her own statement and then signed it. Lacking a penholder, she took a curling iron from the recesses of her desk and inserted a pen between the prongs. The spring was strong and the point held.
“Yes, it is true that our partnership is dissolved,” the statement reads, “I found Mrs. Hilbert a most charming and interesting partner and was more than sorry to lose her. She is a woman of unusual beauty and attainments, with a fine legal mind, splendidly trained and developed. Although she is no longer associated with me, I am sure she will do well and will demonstrate that there is plenty of business for careful, hard-working women lawyers in the city of Seattle.
“MRS. LEONIA W. BROWNE”
Mrs. Hilbert’s Plans
Mrs. Hilbert said: “We have dissolved our partnership. I am going into the general practice of law along strictly ethical lines. I haven’t made up my mind where I will open my office but as I am still secretary of the Washington Political Equality League, I guess I have a right to keep my office there.”
“Will you make a specialty of divorces for women?” Mrs. Hilbert was asked.
“Never mind. I don’t want to say anything about that.”
Says Her Salary is Unpaid
The articles of partnership forming the firm at the first of the year witnessed that in consideration of $200 paid by Mrs. Hilbert she was to have a third interest in all the profits and to get a salary of $50 a month besides. While Mrs. Hilbert declares that Mrs. Browne has stated to other persons that the firm is making $450 a month, Mrs. Hilbert says she is not getting her $50, only a third of the profits and that what she gets is not enough to support herself and her son properly.
Mrs. Browne declares that Mrs. Hilbert is getting all that is coming to her and in proof of the business says that she (Mrs. Browne) is able to support herself and her two boys and her 16-year old daughter.
Mrs. Hilbert in Background
Quarreling and lack of harmony were noticeable for some time, mutual friends declare. Mrs. Browne kept her desk in the consultation room and made Mrs. Hilbert stay in the outer room. Visitors to the office say that every time they came, Mrs. Browne was occupying the post of honor and Mrs. Hilbert was doing the typewriting and transcribing shorthand notes.
Mrs. Hilbert resented taking orders from her partner and several weeks ago announced to her that she had another offer to go in business and would take it unless she was given a half interest in the law firm. Mrs. Browne refused, and the partnership dissolved.
Both are members of the Seattle Women’s Commercial Club.
Update on Leonia W. Browne
5 February 1911 — Oakland Tribune
“Gets Divorces for Women”
“If Dame Rumor is correct, and she very frequently is, a local club woman and pronounced suffragette is soon to bring a suit for divorce against her husband on the grounds of cruelty and desertion, and have none other as her attorney at the court trial of the case, if the suit goes that far, than Leonia W. Browne, the Seattle woman attorney and member of the woman firm of lawyers, Browne & Hulin. Mrs. Browne — by the way, she simply wants to be called Leonia W. Browne — handled her own divorce suit in Seattle so successfully, winning on a charge of incompatibility of temperament, that ever since then she has been the mecca of women who had husbands to burn, in her own city and many other cities of the land. She has had several divorce suits her in the past several years, but they have all been settled before the actual trials. On this account the famed forensic ability of this undoubtedly talented woman has not yet been displayed here, although she has made a number of addresses in San Francisco before clubs on suffrage and the justification of divorce by women. In one of her club talks here a couple of years ago she said in all seriousness that the two members of the firm of Browne & Hulin are divorcees and that they are glad of it. It is the only law firm of its kind in the United States. The firm is said to have a splendid yearly income, and has made a reputation far-reaching because of its two slogans: “Votes for Women” and “Divorces for Women.” Should Browne of Browne & Hulin handle the prospective divorce referred to in one of the local trial courts this year a sensation at her hands may be looked for by the court press reporters.”
photos taken from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3/23/1910