Emilie Wanderer was the first female attorney to open her own practice in Las Vegas. Despite threats, she represented the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1950s. She was also the first woman to run for district court. Wanderer worked to protect the interests of children and promote equal rights.
Wanderer was born in Rhode Island and grew up in Boston. She attended Boston University and went on to Fordham University in New York for law school. She was forced to drop out of law school in 1931 because of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, she passed the New York bar in 1933. While working in New York, she helped establish the National Women's Bar Association.
In 1946, Wanderer moved to Las Vegas with her three children. She passed the Nevada bar in 1947 and began an active legal practice. In the 1950s, she represented the NAACP and held meetings with the group at her home despite threats from her white neighbors. She also ran for municipal court judge, but lost. She was an outspoken advocate for children and minorities.
Wanderer worked to establish a family court in Las Vegas and in 1971, the state legislature passed a bill to create the family court. Wanderer ran for district court hoping to serve as judge for the newly established family court in 1972. She was unsuccessful in her bid. Her son John joined her firm in 1974. Wanderer retired from law practice in 1981. She overcame sexism to become one of Las Vegas's longest serving attorneys. She donated funds for scholarships to the law school at UNLV. Wanderer died in 2005 at the age of 102.