Faith Ohman | 74

As the first female lawyer and partner at Dorsey and Whitney in the 1960s, she quietly propped open doors for future women. 

For 30 years, during the second week of November, a beaming Faith Ohman could be found on a horse, trotting carefree along the shores of Acapulco.

Leggy. Six feet tall. A self-proclaimed klutz. The attorney with a brilliant mind and a penchant for solving the Cargill family’s tax mysteries reveled in her freedom on that beach.

“She found it hard to ride a bike. But she loved to ride horses down the beach and was always trying to recruit people to come to Acapulco and ride with her. She just loved it,” said Sally Howard, her fellow Macalester alumna and friend of 50 years.

The beach. The waves. The wind. The beasts. They renewed Ohman, instilling an easiness that either didn’t come naturally or slowly dissipated over each intense year. Her legal work commanded long hours, for years as the sole female attorney in what was then a 76-member, all-male law firm.

But her quiet, steady work as a master of complex tax and estate law won respect, promotions and a partnership, which she used to open doors for women who followed.

“I was mouse meat. But what Faith did for me in just getting me going [at Dorsey] made the whole difference in my life,” said Kate Bartlett, who joined the firm as an unsure, new attorney when Ohman was a partner. “I was in awe of her. She was brilliant. And she never tried to be one of the guys.”

With a quiet voice that made listeners lean in, Ohman put a stop to Bartlett and other new hires bouncing between departments to learn the legal ropes. She placed Bartlett in the bond department, ensuring that she received real work and growth opportunities.

“She is the one who broke the mold,” Bartlett said. “She was a flag bearer.”

Dee DePass