The WOMEN'S LAW FUND, INC., opened in Sept. 1972 in Cleveland as a pilot project of the Ford Foundation and the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, was the first nonprofit organization in the country to address sex-discrimination cases. The fund does not litigate, but rather funds litigation for select cases. In the first case supported by the Women's Law Fund, LaFleur vs. the Cleveland Board of Education (1974), the U.S. Supreme Court disallowed the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS' mandatory pregnancy leave. Professors Jane M. Picker and Lizabeth Moody of CLEVELAND STATE UNIV.'s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law established the Women's Law Fund to support litigation for WOMEN or men seeking legal redress in cases of sexual discrimination in employment, education, housing, and government benefits. The fund originally employed 1 full-time and 3 part-time attorneys. Rita Page Ruess, the first woman assistant U.S. attorney in Cleveland, left her post to join the Women's Law Fund full-time in 1972. The Fair Employment Practice Clinic of CSU's law school grew out of the fund. With Women's Law Fund support, litigation succeeded, for example, in forcing the CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT to allow women to enroll as police cadets and to serve in patrol cars rather than be limited to desk jobs at the WOMEN'S BUREAU OF THE CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT (1972-75). In the 1990s, with offices located at 3214 Prospect Ave., the fund has concentrated on two areas—discrimination against American women employed overseas by American companies and discrimination against older women.
Meyer, Jimmy E. W. "Women's Law Fund," U.S. Women's Interest Groups, ed. Sarah Slavin (Greenwood, 1995).