Our vision is to have a legal system that provides justice and fairness for women. 


Our mission is to ensure the physical safety, economic security, and autonomy of women throughout the State. We work toward this goal by providing direct legal representation, information and referral services, and legislative advocacy. 


  • 1971


    1971: A group of law students at the University of Maryland School of Law and young lawyers at the Legal Aid Bureau began meeting to discuss women's issues. the Women's Law Center emerges!

  • 1972

    Stuart v. Board of Elections is filed to allow women to vote using their birth names. One of WLC's founding members, Gerry Sweeney, is the law clerk to the judge hearing the case and researched the opinion in the Stuart case.

    WLC and the Legal Aid Bureau successfully represented symphony harpist Rosmarie B. Orner, arguing that it is unconstitutional to disqualify pregnant women from receiving unemployment benefits in Orner v. Board of Appeals. 

    File an amicus brief in a case challenging the requirement that married women register to vote under their married names. 

    Congress passes Equal Rights Amendment and WLC helps fuel the formation of the Covernor's Commission to Study Implementation of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

  • 1972

    Legal hotline services began.

  • 1973

    Articles of Incorporation

    WLC Articles of Incorporation were signed by early activists Susan Tannenbaum, Ann Hoffman, and Kathleen O'Ferral Friedman, establishing the Law Center as a 501 c 3 nonprofit.

  • 1973

    Standing up for Pregnant Women

    WLC successfully represented female teachers before the Baltimore City School Board in, Doerr & Douthrit v. Walton et al, arguing that the requirement for women to take maternity leave at the end of the fifth month of pregnancy was discriminatory. 

    Successfully represented a female social worker in her claim against the Maryland Department of Employment and Social Services that its rules on maternity leave were discriminatory. 

    Supported successful legislation to change the law, providing a pregnant woman was unable to work by operation of law and therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits. 

  • 1975

    Sex Discrimination in Employment: How to Recognize it and What to do About It published.

  • 1974

    Successfully represented female employees of Bethlem Steel in the matter of Beasley v. Bethlem Steel and U.S. Steelworkers of America in a sex discrimination case against the company and union!

    Legal Rights in Marriage and Divorce is published for the first time!

  • 1976

    The Legal Rights of Women in Credit in Marylandis published!

  • 1978

    Battered Women: A Manual for Survival published!

    WLC Successfully represented plaintiffs in the matter of Lazarus v. MD, a case of pay parity for substantially equal work.

  • 1981

    WLC successfully represented women in the matter of VJS v. Hughes, a case challenging the Baltimore Police Department's height and weight requirements. 

    We also successfully represented female prison guards in Kamka et al v E.E.O.C. et al., a case that balanced their right to employment advancement with the privacy rights of male prisoners. 

    Legal Rights in Marriage and Divorce and Legal Rights of Unmarried Cohabitants published. 

  • 1982

    First Executive Director

    Ann Sjordsma hired as first Executive Director, serving in that role from 1981-1983. Ann served on the WLC Board of Directors from 1984-1987, and as Board President from 1985-1986.

  • 1982

    Settlement with the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles allowing married women to revert to their birth names on their driver's licenses without obtaining a court order. 

    Successfully represented a female nursing assistant challenging the Sinai Hospital's discriminatory treatment of women after maternity leave.

    Battered- What Can I do? and Sex Discrimination in Employment published.

    State ERA practical skills workshop for attorneys co-sponsored.

  • 1983

    "Domestic Violence: Responding to the Problem" conference co-sponsored

    WLC participated in a statewide effort to ensure comparable worth in salaries and helped plan the "Women/Worth/Work" Conference.

  • 1983

    First annual meeting hosted!

  • 1984

    Second Executive Director

    Kathleen Shemer was hired as 2nd Executive Director.

  • 1984

    Partnership with House of Ruth to create the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic at the House of Ruth

    Monthly women's legal affairs radio program hosted; continues through 1990.

  • 1985

    "Pornography and the First Amendment" Conference co-sponsored.

    Bleesz v. Bleesz- amicus briefs submitted regarding the impact of mother's adultery on custody determinations.

  • 1986

    The Dorothy Beatty Memorial Award was created for significant contributions to women's rights.

  • 1986

    State of MD vs. Allewalt- amicus brief submitted regarding psychiatric testimony on rape trauma syndrome. 

    "Child Custody: The American Family Conflict" conference.

  • 1987

    "Whose Child is It? Alternatives for Parenting: Adoption, Reproductive Technology, and Surrogate Mothering" conference. 

    Worked with Baltimore Justice Campaign to amend Baltimore City law to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. 

    Conducted research and submitted testimony for "Gender Bias in the Courts Report." 

    Filed amicus brief in Burning Tree Country Club sex discrimination and tax preference case; initiated an investigation into admissions of private clubs and surveying law firms about practices regarding clubs and organizations with discriminatory membership policies. 

  • 1988

    "Separating Sex & Violence" conference. 

  • 1989

    "Money Power & Gender: The Economic Impact of Divorce" conference. 

  • 1990

    Family Law Hotline launched!

  • 1990

    Equitable Life Insurance vs. MD Commission on Human Relations- joined amicus brief challenging discriminatory insurance rate setting against women and minorities. 

  • 1991

    Family Law Hotline got 800 number, obtained funding, and won national recognition American Bar Association award!

  • 1991

    "Can You Have it All: Women and the Legal Profession" and "Fetal Protection: Whose Job Is It?" Conferences.

    Supported successful abortion rights legislation.

    Supported successful legislation allowing battered spouse syndrome defense. 

  • 1992

    "The Medical Gender Gap and the Crisis In Women's Health Care" conference.

    Gerald Wynn Elland v. MD- joined amicus brief supporting the extension of Batson to gender under the Maryland ERA and disallowing peremptory challenges to excluded jurors based on gender. 

    Organized in support of Question 6, statewide referendum on choice.

  • 1993

    Joined with other advocates to fight the nomination of a delegate who made derogatory comments about women.

  • 1993

    Rosalyn B. Bell Award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in family law.

  • 1994

    "Gender & Power in Maryland Politics," conference to increase the number of women in the Legislature, hosted with the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys.

    Financial planning seminar presented.

  • 1995

    Legal Forms Helpline launched to seve pro see litigants: received National Association for Court Management Justice Achievement Award.

  • 1996

    Family Law Center opened; became Kaufman Center for Family Law in 1997

  • 1996

    First annual "Girls Can Do Anything" breakfast.

    Outreach effort to the Hispanic Community regarding the Domestic Violence Act, in partnership with the Hispanic Bar. 

  • 1997

    "Sexual Harassment: Terms of Endearment? Moving Beyond 'He Said, She Said' in the Workplace" conference. 

  • 1997

    The Protection Order Advocacy and Representation Project (POARP) opens in Baltimore City.

    First Access to Justice Award presented.

  • 1998

    "Medical Privacy In the Information Age: Access, Ethics, and Accountability" conference.

    Dietz vs. Dietz- amicus brief submitted by Kaufman Center for Family Law arguing a wife did not acquiesce to the trial court's determination when she accepted court-ordered installments of a monetary award.

    Organized against GBMC's attempted merger with St. Joseph's Hospital that would have cut off abortion services.

    Supported a successful bill establishing "cruelty of treatment" as grounds for divorce. 

  • 1999

    Third Executive Director

    Denise Davis Hired as 3rd Executive Director!

    Multi-Ethnic Domestic Violence (MEDOVI) Project launched.

  • 1999

    Domestic Violence Assistance Project (DVA) opened in Montgomery County in partnership with House of Ruth.

  • 2000

    The Family Law Hotline expanded to 5 days per week in partnership with the Legal Aid Bureau.

  • 2000

    Filed appeal in Peterson regarding Emergency Family Maintenance in domestic violence cases.

    Researched and wrote a report regarding the Family Violence Option for victims of domestic violence applying for TANF.

  • 2001

    Comprehensive statewide research conducted on custody and property distribution decisions in family law cases; report published 2004.

  • 2001

    Fourth Executive Director!

    Tracy Brown was hired as 4th Executive Director!

  • 2002

    Pro Bono Service award from the Pro Bono Resource Center in Maryland. 

    POARP expanded to Baltimore County in partnership with House of Ruth.

  • 2003

    You Money Matters: A Guide to Financial Independence for Women published. 

  • 2004

    POARP expanded to Carroll County; participation in Montgomery County DVA ends. 

    Students Supporting the Women's Law Center groups formed at the University of Baltimore School of Law and the University of Maryland School of Law. 

  • 2005

    The reduced Fee Custody Project, subsequently called Judicare, was launched.

    MEDOVI expands to full-time attorney; full-time legal advocate added in 2007.

  • 2006

    Family Law Hotline expanded with staffing by contractual attorneys, supplemented by volunteers.

    Spanish services added to the Legal Forms Helpline

    Employment Law Hotline launched. 

  • 2009

    Received Maryland Association fo Nonprofits Standards for Excellence Certification.

  • 2009

    Amicus brief was filed in the Boemio case, supporting judges' use of alimony guidelines. 

    Feminist Discussion Series- Health, Wealth, and Well-Being.

    Appeal filed in Wardle regarding custody and financial distribution in a domestic violence case. 

  • 2010

    Co- counsels successful appeal on behalf of DV victim in Wardle vs, Wardle.

    Passage of landmark legislation protecting DV victims from housing discrimination and providing new remedies for victims. 

    WLC submits amicus brief in Boemio vs. Boemio, in which the Court of Appeals ratifies Alimony guidelines and others.

  • 2011

    Appeal filed in Spector regarding jurisdiction when a victim of domestic violence seeks a protective order after fleeing from another state. 

  • 2011

    Launched Limited Scope Representation Project.

  • 2012

    40th Anniversary; new organizational mission statement and logo launched.

  • 2012

    Framing Feminism Discussion Series: 40 Year Fight for Fairness and Emerging Issues.

  • 2013

    WLC Legal Director Laure Ruth was appointed to the Maryland Commission on Child Custody Decision Making. 

  • 2014

    Trafficking Victims Post-Conviction Advocacy Project launches through a two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship.

  • 2015

    Fifth Executive Director

    Michelle Daugherty Siri named 5th Executive Director!

  • 2015

    Successfully challenged the governor's nominations for Baltimore County's Trial Court Nominating Commission because all four people were white men. 

    WLC joins amicus brief in Obergefell v Himes in support of same-sex marriage.

  • 2016

    Equal Pay for Equal Work law passed!

    Conover v. Conover- wrote an amicus brief for a definitive case supporting parental rights of non-biological, non-adoptive parents in same-sex relationships. 

  • 2016

    CLAS Project founded. 

    MEDOVI added affirmative asylum cases and derivate clients (additional family members, such as children).

  • 2019

    Workplace Harassment Act passed!

  • 2020

    The definition of "person eligible for relief" expands, providing parties in a sexual relationship with greater legal remedies and protections. 

  • 2021

    Michelle Siri was appointed to the Maryland Equal Pay Commission.

  • 2022

    50th Anniversary!