Helen Lucile Lomen
(August 21, 1920 – June 21, 1996) was the first woman to serve as a law clerk
for a Supreme Court
Lomen was born in Nome, Alaska
in 1920. Her family later moved to Seattle
, where she graduated from high school in 1937. She then attended Whitman College
, from which she graduated with honors in 1941. Lomen went to law school at the University of Washington
. She was first in her class, editor of the law review, and published a prize-winning essay on constitutional law. She never considered Harvard Law School
as they did not admit women in 1941. Upon graduation, she went to Washington, D.C.
to clerk for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
(himself a Whitman alum) for the 1944-1945 term. Lomen described her working relationship with Douglas as “all business” but also said that he was much more relaxed and “a delightful fellow” away from the office when he hosted small dinner parties to which Lomen was frequently invited. Douglas later said she was “very able and very conscientious.” After her time at the Supreme Court, Lomen turned down a position in the U.S. Department of Justice in favor of her home state of Washington as assistant attorney general
, where she served for three years. She went on to a 35-year career in multiple positions for General Electric
including counsel for corporate affairs. She retired in 1983 and died at the age of 75 in 1996.