Women Lawyers Division

Philadelphia Chapter



Legends of the Law” is dedicated to the acknowledgement of individuals that made a difference in the legal arena by challenging prejudices and misconceptions that served as a color barrier.  These individuals helped to change the legal community making it better for the next generation.  It is to them that we owe a continued duty to strive for equality and diversity and to ensure that their milestones are not viewed from behind on a slide back to how things were.
Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander blazed the trail for Black women. Dr. Alexander was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was a member of the Law Review. She also was the first Black woman to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After graduating from law school, Dr. Alexander served as an Assistant City Solicitor of Philadelphia from 1928 to 1930, and from 1934 to 1938. She then engaged in the successful private practice of law with her husband: the late Honorable Raymond Pace Alexander, and later with the law firm of Atkinson, Myers, Archie and Wallace.

Dr. Alexander dedicated much of her life to advancing civil liberties and equal rights. She served on President Truman's Commission on Civil Rights and also served as a member of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. Dr. Alexander was chairman of that commission from 1962 to 1969. In 1962, she was the only Black female in the United States to chair such a commission. Dr. Alexander helped found the Greater Philadelphia Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and, for many years, was an active member of its board of directors. In 1980, she was appointed Chair if the White House Conference on Aging by President Carter.

The late Juanita Kidd Stout, a diminutive woman from Wewoka, Oklahoma, was and continues to be celebrated nationally and internationally for her accomplishments and dedication at a time when opportunities for African American women were restricted. 

Not one to allow societal prejudices to limit or deny her ambitions, Kidd Stout left Oklahoma at age 16 to find an accredited college that would admit African American women.  She was later inducted into the state’s “Hall of Fame” in 1981. In 1939, Kidd Stout earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa; in 1948, a law degree from Indiana University; and in 1954, a graduate law degree. 

In September 1959, five (5) years after passing the Pennsylvania bar exam, the governor of Pennsylvania appointed Kidd Stout a judge of the municipal court in Philadelphia. That November, she won a ten-year term on the court, thus becoming the first African-American woman appointed or elected judge of a court of record or general jurisdiction in the United States.  In 1969, Kidd Stout was the first African American woman to be elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.  Appointed in 1988, Kidd Stout was the first African American woman in the United States to serve on a state Supreme Court.

Her force extended outside the courtroom and into other regions of the world.  As a participant in a State Department cultural exchange program, Kidd Stout toured six (6) African countries.

A respect for the rules and the results of discipline were evident throughout Kidd Stout’s career, first as a teacher and then a judge.  Often the subject of news and magazine articles, Kidd Stout was recognized for her tough stance on crime and juvenile delinquency.  Though tough, her courtroom was not an end but rather an opportunity for change.  The venerable Kidd Stout extolled the benefits of education to all.  For defendants, education was a requirement of probation.  For others, her passion was so strong that self evaluation and a change of course resulted.  Many of the judges and attorneys in today’s courtrooms can attribute a milestone or two to the role model who accomplished much “just because [she] wanted to.”

Sadie Tanner Mosley Alexander

Justice Juanita Kidd Stout

When the Honorable Doris May Harris died in April 1985, she left behind a legacy of professional excellence and commitment to education. On February 28, 1989 the NBA Women Lawyers Division, Philadelphia Chapter presented to the Court of Common Pleas the portrait of Judge Harris in her honor and memory. In conjunction with the unveiling ceremony, the organization announced the establishment of an annual award to pay tribute to Judge Harris by honoring an African American female attorney who best personifies the values and commitments held by Judge Harris.

Judge Harris was born in Philadelphia in 1923. She graduated from Overbrook High School in 1941. In 1946, Judge Harris earned her B.A. degree magna cum laude at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and her J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1949.

She was admitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania in 1950. During her career, she served as attorney-advisor to the United States Government Regional Counsel of the Office of Price Stabilization, Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia, a partner in the firm of Norris, Schmidt, Green, Harris and Higginbotham, Attorney for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Assistant General Counsel for the School District of Philadelphia.

During her years on the bench, Judge Harris was involved in numerous professional and community activities. Some of these included the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Judicial Planning Commission of Pennsylvania, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, LINKS Inc., Penn Towne Chapter and the National Council of Negro Women. Judge Harris served on the boards of many organizations, including the Women's Christian Alliance and Executive Board of the United Way.

Judge Doris May Harris


Member Spotlight

2016 Scholarship Recipients

To those who know her, Roberta Torian is already a legend. ​​Torian, a partner in Reed Smith's Financial Industry Group, is one of the most experienced bank regulatory and consumer compliance lawyers in the country, having many years of in-house service at PNC, Mellon and Advanta. ​​

Her practice focuses on banking law specialties such as OFAC/Bank Secrecy Act; Internet banking; Fair Credit Reporting Act; Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; FACT ACT/Privacy: Electronic Banking; Credit Card law, cash management and merchant bank processing, deposit account products, bank mergers and acquisitions and much more. Torian is currently supporting Reed Smith's financial services litigators with substantive banking law analysis. Torian is a former member of the firm's Executive Committee and was the FSP Observer in 2015.​​ Her dedication to her profession is matched only by her dedication to mentoring and community service.

Ms. Torain received a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law.
The WLD Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2016 Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Tuition Scholarship and the Sadie T.M. Alexander Book Fund Scholarships to law school students Jasmine C. Greene and Maya Brown. The 2016 Award recipients showed a keen aptitude and positive attitude to successfully navigate law school and are well equipped to make significant contributions to the community and profession.

2016 Juanita Kidd Stout Tuition Scholarship Recipient
Jasmine C. Greene is a second year law student at Temple University Beasley School of Law and is the recipient of the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Tuition Scholarship in the amount of $5,000. In addition to being a law student, Ms. Greene, who interned with two judges before entering law school, serves as a full time teacher in at a Camden high school. 
“Justice Stout, also a previous teacher, had high standards and worked tirelessly to similarly act beyond the status quo to reach her goals. She is a representation of the potential of African American women and for all my goals, I dedicate myself to representing that same potential.”

Roberta Torian, Esquire​​
Sadie T.M. Alexander Book Fund Scholarship Recipient

WLD Members
in the News

Maya Brown, also a second year law student at Temple University Beasley School of Law, is the recipient of a Sadie T.M. Alexander Book Fund Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.
“I strongly believe education, mentorship and a strong network are the keys to success in any career. If I am able to use what I have learned and achieved in my own career to help those who are ‘next up,’ succeed, I will feel like I have not only achieved my goal, but also embodied all that Dr. Alexander stood for when she paved the way for those who followed after her.”

Congratulations to Kenya Mann Faulkner, Esquire, named Kroll's Managing Director in Investigations and Disputes Practice. We are so proud!

​The WLD Foundation scholarship awards are made to current African American female law students, in the greater Philadelphia area, who display academic excellence and a demonstrated commitment to honoring the legacies of Justice Stout and Sadie T.M. Alexander. 

Congratulations to Lindette Hassan, Esquire named one of The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 list. Visit her firm's website for a list of her many accomplishments.