Two middleâ€aged women graduated from the University of Tennessee Law School in October 1974. Since no one would hire them, Ann Mostoller and Dorothy Stulberg formed a partnership and set up their own law practice as Mostoller and Stulberg. They were surprised when the local Bank of Oak Ridge was willing to lend them $2,000 as startâ€up money without requiring their husbandsâ€™ signatures. The women rented space in the Cappiello Building on Tulsa Avenue and began to practice law. In their case, they were truly â€œpracticing.â€
Some local folks were willing to trust them with their wills and other legal matters. The new attorneys served lowâ€income clients by offering divorces at fees based on incomes. The partners accepted appointments to criminal cases. Although women in law was an anomaly at that time, several male attorneys in the area were willing to assist them, for which the women were extremely grateful.
After about a year, the women were appointed to serve as public defenders in Anderson County. During this one-year appointment, the new attorneys became experienced with criminal jury trials. Although they did not continue to practice criminal law, the appointment provided good experience and good exposure both for the attorneys and the public.
During the first few years of practice, the women represented Vickie Cape in her challenge to the halfâ€court basketball rules then followed in Tennessee. Federal Judge Robert Taylor ruled in favor of Vickie, but the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) appealed the decision, and the case was reversed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the next year, TSSAA changed the rules, and women have continued to play full-court basketball ever since. [Read more…]