The philosophy of the Women’s Bar Foundation has always been “women helping women.”  In 1963, several women attorneys gathered to create a mechanism for funding Illinois law school scholarships for women law students.

The first scholarship was awarded in 1966 in the name of Judge Mary Bartelme in the amount of $300. Since that time, the Foundation has awarded over 280 scholarships totaling over $1.1 million. In 2003, the Foundation established and awarded a permanent annual scholarship in the name of Esther Rothstein, a founding member of the Foundation and its president for almost 21 years. In 2002, the Foundation instituted an annual public interest scholarship and in 2004, the Foundation established a permanent annual scholarship in the name of Justice Mary Ann G. McMorrow, a long-time supporter of the Foundation and the first woman Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.

In 1966, the Women’s Bar Foundation was created and 50 years later we are still recognizing how truly remarkable our current day women law students are and where their aspirations will take them. The funds for Foundation scholarships are raised through individual donations, endowments, bequests, and Foundation events. Through the years, scholarships have been provided by donations from former scholarship winners and by donations from other supporters. The Foundation honors distinguished members and donors by awarding scholarships in their names. In memory of Esther Rothstein, former President of the Women’s Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Foundation, we are reminded:  “Give to others, not because you have to, but because you can.” To ensure the viability of the Foundation, supporters are encouraged to consider including the Women’s Bar Foundation in their estate plans.


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WBF Articles

“WBAI Foundation and the Women Behind It” by Ann Bechly, WBAI News, July 1987

WBAI Newsletter Article on 2016 Rise Up and Reach Back Event in Springfield