Marian Mayer Berkett was one of the earliest women students at Tulane Law School. She graduated first in her class in 1937 and she was the first woman attorney hired by a Louisiana law firm.
Marian Mayer Berkett, the first woman attorney hired by a Louisiana law firm, is among the honorees in the inaugural class of the Tulane Law School Hall of Fame. (Photo by Rusty Costanza)
Yet these “firsts” are not what Berkett remembers most about Tulane. Her fondest remembrances are of her classmates who stimulated her intellect and never begrudged her success.
“They didn’t make me feel different, and that was quite unusual for that time,” Berkett said.
Berkett was one of 12 alumni and faculty inducted into Tulane Law School’s new Hall of Fame on March 22 at the annual alumni luncheon. The six living and six posthumous honorees
in the inaugural class represent the diverse accomplishments of Tulane Law alumni over its 166-year history, said David Meyer, dean of the law school.
“The Tulane Law School Hall of Fame enables us to celebrate these rich talents by highlighting each year the exemplary achievements of a select group that reflects the whole,” Meyer said.
The Hall of Fame was created with an endowed gift to the school from alumnus Mike Veron and his wife, Melinda. More than 250 alumni attended the luncheon to applaud the inductees.
Berkett, who recently turned 100 years old, led a remarkable career highlighted by her success as a trial lawyer when few women in the United States were arguing cases in courtrooms.
She began law school at Louisiana State University, where she was a vocal critic of Gov. Huey Long’s administration. After transferring to Tulane, Berkett co-founded the People’s League with her classmates, including future U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, and began rabble-rousing in opposition to Long’s political machine.
“She went on to have an enormous impact in the city fighting for clean government and becoming one of the legendary lawyers of her time,” Meyer said.
Michael Joe is a writer in the Office of Development.