First woman lawyer in Victoria

Grata Flos Greig
Head and shoulders portrait
photo of Grata Flos Greig.

The school was a men-only domain until 1880, when women were allowed to study at the University. However, it was not until 1897 that the first woman enrolled.

Grata Flos Matilda Greig, who was born in 1880, became the first woman to graduate in law from the University of Melbourne. At a time when there were few women students, four of her sisters also studied at the University, two in medicine, one in science and one in law.

Flos Greig enrolled in arts and law in 1897, graduated in 1903, and was ranked second in the honours class list.

No woman had yet become a lawyer in Victoria, and it was unclear whether Greig could be admitted to practice. The first woman to graduate in law in Australia, Ada Evans, received her degree from the University of Sydney in 1902 but was not allowed to practice until 1918.

With the help of John Mackey (a member of parliament and one of Greig's lecturers), a statute–sometimes nicknamed the Flos Greig Enabling Act–was passed, making it clear that women could enter the profession.

In 1905 Ms Greig became the first woman to practise as a lawyer in Australia. She worked as a solicitor in Melbourne and Wangaratta, and travelled extensively in Asia.

Women Students 1902
Copy photograph of a posed group of women students near Law Building, circa 1902.