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Queen’s Bench celebrates history of Annie Coker, Black women lawyers’ contributions to the California legal community

28 Feb 2024 4:54 PM | Anonymous

Queen’s Bench celebrates history of Annie Coker, Black women lawyers’ contributions to the California legal community

By Alexandra Sepolen 2024 Secretary


As Black History Month draws to a close, Queen’s Bench acknowledges the contributions of Black women lawyers to the Bay Area community, including the groundwork laid by the first Black female lawyer in the state of California, Annie Coker.

Annie Virginia Stephens Coker was born in Oakland, California, on April 7, 1903, and attended public school in Oakland and Pacific Grove. Annie Coker received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of California Berkeley and completed her education at Berkeley Law. At the time, Ms. Coker was one of two women in her 47-person class. She received a LL.B. in 1929, eight years after the founding of Queen’s Bench Bar Association, and was admitted to the State Bar of California in the same year.

After moving to Virginia to run her own private practice, Annie Coker returned to California in 1939 to work for the Office of Legislative Counsel in Sacramento. Ms. Coker eventually became the head of the Indexing Section, responsible for compiling all California state codes and bills brought before the California legislature. Ms. Coker was described by her colleagues as “a good supervisor, a good friend” and “conscientious.”

In a California Bar Journal article regarding Ms. Coker’s career, former Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte remarked, “I’m absolutely inspired by her. For her to have come up at the time she did, and to be admitted at a time when the level of discrimination and the lack of opportunities for African-Americans, particularly in the legal profession, was high is amazing to me.”

Today, Queen’s Bench Bar Association continues to celebrate the contributions of Black women lawyers to the Bay Area legal community. Black women have also contributed to the rich history and tradition of leadership in our bar association, including but not not limited to Hana Hardy (Queen’s Bench President 2019). As a member of the Minority Bar Coalition, we encourage our members to attend the various events hosted by our sister bar associations led by Black women lawyers such as Black Women Lawyers of Northern California and the Charles Houston Bar Association. More information about MBC and affiliate organizations is available here.

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