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Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. recognizes Lavinia Goodell, recipient of the Lifetime Legal Innovator award

November 18, 2019

MILWAUKEE (Nov. 18, 2019)  Godfrey & Kahn is pleased to recognize Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin’s first female attorney, on posthumously receiving the Lifetime Legal Innovator award from the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Godfrey & Kahn would also like to commend attorneys Colleen Ball and Nancy Kopp for their work in bringing the story to light. Their tireless efforts were supported by a team of Godfrey & Kahn attorneys, who recognized the importance of correcting the record about Wisconsin’s first female lawyer.

Lavinia Goodell was one of the first female trial lawyers in the U.S., a nationally-respected writer, a Vice President of the Association for the Advancement of Woman, a candidate for Janesville City Attorney, a successful lobbyist, a jail reformer and a temperance advocate. But she is best known for her 1875 battle with Chief Justice Edward Ryan, who denied her admission to the Wisconsin Supreme Court solely because of her gender. Lavinia ultimately prevailed, gaining admission to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and arguing her first case there just weeks before her death in 1880.

When asked about the importance of the project, Godfrey & Kahn attorney Katie Stadler said, “Every woman practicing law is connected to Lavinia and the other amazing women featured on the site. None of us would be here without them, and I applaud Colleen and Nancy for filling in this embarrassingly empty spot in Wisconsin’s legal history.”

The State Bar of Wisconsin recognized Lavinia with their Lifetime Legal Innovator award in recognition of her contributions to the practice of law. More information about the 2019 Legal Innovators can be found in the November issue of Wisconsin Lawyer magazine. More information about the life of Lavinia Goodell can be found on the newly launched website about her life and accomplishments.

With more than 180 lawyers, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. is one of Wisconsin’s leading business law firms. Founded in 1957, Godfrey & Kahn maintains offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton, Green Bay and Waukesha, Wis.; and Washington, DC. For more information, please visit the firm’s website at



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