Nellie MacNamara ’18


+++++26 October 1888, in San Antonio, Texas


+++++John Simon MacNamara and Nellie Matilda Lidstone


+++++one sister, Susie

Legal Education:

+++++LL.B., Northwestern University Law School, Chicago, IL  1914-1917

Admission to Practice:

  • Illinois 1917
  • Montana 1918


  • Assistant to County Attorney, Kalispell, MT [It appears Ms. MacNamara spent about one year in Montana before returning to Chicago.]
  • Legal Aid Bureau of United Charities of Chicago
  • Instructor and Director of Legal Clinics, Northwestern University Law School (“Her students get practical training in Chicago’s Legal Aid.”)


+++++Association of American Law Schools, Clinical Legal Education


  • Nellie MacNamara, “Teaching Legal Ethics by the Clinical Method,” 8 American L. Sch. Rev. 241 (1935).


+++++8 September 1959, in Dallas, Texas

6 January 1919 — Great Falls Daily Tribune — “Flathead County for First Time Will Have a Woman Engaged in Law Practice”

+++++“For the first time in history, Flathead county is to have a woman attorney engaged in the practice of law.
+++++The woman who enjoys this distinction is Miss Nellie MacNamara, who has been acting as assistant to County Attorney MacDonald for six months.
+++++Miss MacNamara is a graduate of the law school of Northwestern university, Chicago, and for a time was employed [with] Legal Aid in that city. She came to Montana recently and has been working for Mr. MacDonald while ‘getting the lay of the land.’ She likes this part of the country and will locate in the practice of law for herself within a few days, probably at Whitefish.”

Women Lawyers’ Journal, Volume 8, Number 4 (April 1919)

+++++“Miss Nellie McNamara, a graduate of Northwestern University, has gone from Chicago to open an office for the practice of law in Kalispell, Montana.”

Women Lawyers’ Journal, Volume 9, Number 1 (Oct.-Dec. 1919)

+++++“Miss Nellie McNamara, who has been engaged in the practice of law in Kalispell, Montana, for the past year, has returned to Chicago.”

30 May 1926 — Beaumont Enterprise

+++++“Lillie Lack expects to visit in the Windy City with Nellie McNamara this summer. You haven’t been keeping up with Nellie. She’s attorney for the Chicago Legal Aid league which has to do with the claims of immigrants and has gone far in her profession. The truth is Nellie is now ranked as one of the outstanding women lawyers of America. She got her start in law here in Judge John M. Conley’s office. Nellie belongs to a group of professors, artists, writers, lawyers, musicians, etc., which meets every Saturday evening for discussions. . . .
+++++Mary Mennigan, who writes those Irish stories for Harper’s and others of the big league magazines, is a cousin of Nellie’s.”

18 December 1927 — Beaumont Enterprise

+++++“Nellie McNamara has returned to the old home town for a few days’ visit. Nellie says when but 12 years old she went around announcing her two ambitions — to become a lawyer and to never have ‘Mrs.’ on her tombstone. (Another unmarried friend who, when the man being introduced to her asked, ‘Miss or Mrs?’ snapped back, ‘Miss by choice.’)
+++++Nellie says she never will forget the first time time she ever made an argument before a jury. ‘Twas out in Montana in a murder trial.
+++++She thought she was just sitting in to learn. But her associate counsel shocked her into action by announcing that Nellie [. . . omitted from news article!]. How ever does she talk to a jury?
+++++Nellie is connected with the Chicago legal aid bureau and her activities are important and varied indeed. She says courthouse practice takes so much out of her that she now is doing office work mostly.
+++++Nellie adores Elinor Wylie’s poetry, some of which the great writer ruined for her, though, when Nellie heard her give a reading. Elinor can write, but can’t talk and admits it.”

10 September 1959 — Dallas Morning News [Obituary]

+++++Graveside services for Miss Nellie MacNamara, 70, of 3428 John’s, a former Chicago resident active in legal and social work, will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.
+++++Miss MacNamara died Tuesday at the home of her sister, Mrs. Irvin A. Fridge, who is the only survivor.
+++++A native of San Antonio, she moved to Dallas in 1958.
+++++A graduate of Northwestern University, she was a practicing attorney and district attorney in Kalisville [Kalispell], Montana. She returned to Chicago in the 1920’s and practiced law and taught at Northwestern for 31 years.
+++++She served as senior attorney for the Free Legal Bureau for many years and was president of the executive board of Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Chicago for 19 years.
+++++Miss MacNamara was a member of the American, Illinois and Illinois Women’s Bar Association.  She was twice president of the latter group.
+++++She was a member of the Judicature Society and was active in the Chicago Symphony Association.

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