Marilla M. Ricker Award
The Marilla M. Ricker Achievement Award is presented annually to women lawyers who have achieved professional excellence, and paved the way to success for other women lawyers, or advanced opportunities for women in the legal profession, and/or performed exemplary public service on behalf of women.
Setting the standard for equal rights for women in New Hampshire, Marilla Ricker paved the way for women lawyers and advanced their contribution to the legal profession.
Marilla M. Ricker was born in New Durham, New Hampshire in 1840. In 1870, she became the first woman in New Hampshire to attempt to vote, when she presented her ballot at the polls in Dover’s Ward Three. She was refused, and for the remainder of her life, she tried to convince the legislature and the people of New Hampshire that women deserved the right to vote.
In 1882, Marilla Ricker passed the bar exam in Washington, D.C., where she became the first New Hampshire woman to gain admission to an organized bar. She was one of the first women admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. She practiced in Washington, D.C. for a number of years before returning to New Hampshire.
In 1890, Marilla Ricker became the first woman to apply for admission to the New Hampshire Bar. In Petition of Ricker, 66 N.H. 207 (1890), she petitioned the New Hampshire Supreme Court for the right of women to practice law in New Hampshire after she was denied that right simply because of her gender. With all justices concurring, Marilla Ricker won the right women lawyers have today.
In Petition of Ricker, the New Hampshire Supreme Court held that women may be attorneys-at-law and eligible for admission to the state bar, upon taking and passing the examination, or upon submitting evidence of admission and sufficient practice in another state. Interestingly, the first woman lawyer in Massachusetts, Lelia J. Robinson, appeared with Marilla Ricker in her petition.
In 1907, Marilla Ricker stated, “I think we should all work for equal suffrage, and I trust the time is not far distant when no man or woman will even admit that it was ever opposed in New Hampshire. I want New Hampshire to be the banner state of the East on the equal suffrage question.”
From her attempts to vote and her petition to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Marilla Ricker helped set the standard for equal rights for women in New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association wishes to congratulate the recipients of this award:
Hon. Susan B. Carbon
Martha Van Oot
Cathy J. Green
Mary Susan Leahy
Linda S. Johnson
Deborah J. Cooper
Hon. Jean K. Burling
Emily G. Rice
Ann McLane Kuster
Sherilyn Burnett Young
Hon. Carol Ann Conboy
Ellen J. Musinsky
Marital Master Deborah Kane Rein
Lucy C. Hodder
Hon. Tina L. Nadeau
Carol L. Hess
Jane E. Young
Jennifer L. Parent
To nominate an attorney to receive the Marilla M. Ricker Achievement Award, a nomination form must be completed and submitted to the NHWBA. For a copy of the 2017 nomination form, click here. Nominations are due by June 9, 2017.