Marilla M. Ricker Award 2017-05-09T21:05:45+00:00

Marilla M. Ricker Award

Marilla M. Ricker Award

Marilla M. Ricker

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:

2000 Recipients
Hon. Susan B. Carbon
Martha Van Oot

2001 Recipients
Cathy J. Green
Mary Susan Leahy

2002 Recipients
Linda S. Johnson
Deborah J. Cooper

2003 Recipients
Hon. Jean K. Burling
Emily G. Rice

2004 Recipient
Ann McLane Kuster

2005 Recipient
Mary Pilkington-Casey

2006 Recipient
Barbara Keshen

2007 Recipient
Sherilyn Burnett Young

2008 Recipient
Hon. Carol Ann Conboy

2009 Recipient
Ellen J. Musinsky

2010 Recipient
Marital Master Deborah Kane Rein

2011 Recipient
Lucy C. Hodder

2012 Recipient
Connie Rakowsky

2013 Recipient
Hon. Tina L. Nadeau

2014 Recipient
Carol L. Hess

2015 Recipient
Jane E. Young

2016 Recipient
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.