Nellie McNamara was admitted to practice in Illinois in 1917 and in Montana in 1918. She spent only about one year in Montana as an assistant to the County Attorney in Kalispell before returning to Chicago. She kept her connection to her sister in Texas throughout her life. For more about Ms. McNamara, visit her separate page on this blog.
12 December 1927 — Beaumont Journal
City’s First Woman Lawyer Copes with Chicago’s Biggest
“Beaumont’s first woman lawyer is visiting here. Miss Nellie McNamara, now of Chicago, is the guest of Mrs. Lillie Lack . . . . Miss McNamara is the daughter of the late J. S. McNamara, long identified with the oil industry of this section. Her father remained here until his death but she moved to Chicago about 10 years ago.
It was here that she began the study of law in the office of the late Judge J. M. Conley. And tears come into her eyes when she tells of the encouragement he gave her, his fine spirit and big vision. In fact her father and Judge Conley were the only two who agreed with her she wouldn’t be wasting time and money by studying law. She recalls that the first law she read was in a borrowed copy of Blackstone that Judge Conley secured for her, study being interrupted when Judge Conley became judge. Then she worked for a time in O’Brien and Chilton’s law office but her duties there occupied her to the exclusion of reading law. She she cut loose and began studying in earnest at the University of Chicago.
Miss McNamara is connected with the Chicago Legal Aid Bureau, an organization to help those who have righteous claims but no funds. Foreigners especially who would seek legal redress appeal to this body. In addition Miss McNamara is engaged in general practice. Not long since she was a candidate for municipal judge in Chicago running second on the ticket. Her activities are varied. Recently she talked for more than an hour on credits to a credit association.
‘There are 125 women in Chicago actively engaged in the practice of law,’ according to Miss McNamara. ‘Two hundred are licensed.’
‘No. I experience no prejudice against women in the field of law. Time was when it was regarded in some quarters but a stepping stone to marriage. That day has passed,’ she said.
Miss McNamara will leave for Dallas, Thursday, to visit her sister, Mrs. Irvine Fridge, formerly Miss Susie McNamara of Beaumont, the sisters being the only members of the family now living. . . .”