Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Trailblazing Women Honored for Legal First

Ohio’s first woman chief justice honored the state’s first two women lawyers at an event today in Tiffin.

The Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio State Bar Association joined Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor by dedicating a historical marker to note the significance of Nettie and Florence Cronise’s historic first. The marker stands at Washington and Market streets on the courthouse square, not far from where the Cronise Sisters opened the first female-owned law practice in the state.

The pair was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1873. The marker’s description points to how controversial admittance was at the time for a woman.

“Ironically, at the same time as Nettie’s admission, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed Illinois’ denial of admission to the bar to another woman based upon gender,” the plaque states.

Chief Justice O’Connor spoke at the dedication ceremony. Justices Terrence O'Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, and Judith L. French were also on hand.

“I read what I could about both ladies and found it fascinating that Nettie formed a partnership with her husband, John Lutes, a prominent lawyer,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “After a short time he became completely deaf and Nettie enabled him to continue his practice by never leaving his side and by interpreting everything for him. That combo was able to try cases successfully and few people knew that he was deaf.”

“Florence remained single and after her partnership with Nettie ceased due to marriage, Florence formed a partnership with another female lawyer who was able to be admitted thanks to the pioneering of the Cronise sisters.”