#WHM – Gertrude Friedlander Markel, Lawyer and Alpha Epsilon Phi

Gertrude Friedlander became a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi while she was a student at the University of Pittsburgh. After she graduated, she entered law school at the same institution. She was only one of three women enrolled in law school. She earned her law degree in 1925.

Getrude Friedlander and her Alpha Epsilon Phi sisters at the University of Pittsburgh

Gertrude Friedlander and her Alpha Epsilon Phi sisters at the University of Pittsburgh

She served Alpha Epsilon Phi as a National Dean (National President) from 1927-29.

HE Arm'R X CTTTZEX. FRIDAY, .July 1, 1927.

       The Auburn (NY) Citizen             July 1, 1927

According to an article which appeared in the October 9, 1975 Pittsburgh Press, Markel said, “Even after I graduated it was tough getting started. It was difficult for a woman lawyer to find a niche. I didn’t want to go into a law firm that would use me as a clerk. I wanted to practice law. So I started my own firm.”

At the start of her career, while preparing for a murder case, where she was sure of her client’s innocence, she traveled to Chicago. While there, on a whim, she called famed lawyer Clarence Darrow. That call led to her having dinner with Darrow at the Palmer House and a life long friendship. Darrow’s suggestion that she bring in psychiatrists to help establish her client’s mental capacity helped her convince the jury of his innocence. When she won the case, and her client was found innocent, Darrow sent her a letter congratulating her on a job well done.

On June 9, 1929, she married Jacob A. Markel. Together the  established their own law firm, Markel and Markel. In the early 1930s, they added two sons to their family, Bennett in 1931 and Myron in 1934. After graduation from Columbia University’s School of Law in 1959, Myron joined his parents in their law firm.

In 1975, the Allegheny County Bar Association honor her for her 50 years of service. Of the 17 lawyers receiving certificates that year, only two were women.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory.


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