February 2013 CBA REPORT
This section honors the lives of deceased members of the local bar. For more information about this service,
please contact Kathy Schmidt at (513) 699-1390 or
They say the law is a jealous mistress, but to Martha Hildenbrand Perin, the law
was a love affair of a lifetime. Born Martha Jane Hildenbrand, the only child of Tony
and Clara Miller Hildenbrand, she was a groundbreaker from the very start. After
graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a B.B.A., Martha Jane, as she was
known to all, immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy. She graduated from the Naval
Supply School at Harvard in 1943; and was stationed in Boston; Washington, DC; and
the naval hospital at Sun Valley, Idaho. She remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve until
1954, having attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Returning to Cincinnati
after World War II, she enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, College of Law under
the G.I. Bill, and was the only woman in her graduating class in 1948.
Martha Jane fought to prove a woman could succeed in what was then a man’s
world. Unable to get a job with any law firm, she took a position with the Legal Aid
Society, where she was known as the “bastardy lady” for her success in paternity suits.
By 1950, Martha Jane was working at the firm of Cors, Hair & Hartsock when she
accepted a short-term assignment as the executive secretary of the Cincinnati Bar As-
sociation. That short-term assignment became a forty-year affiliation. Martha Jane
took the CBA from a staff of one (herself) to the dynamic organization providing law-
yer referral, judicial ratings and a comprehensive betterment of the bar that the CBA is
Martha Jane was a mentor to all lawyers, but she took a special pride in helping
young women lawyers escape the discrimination she faced in her own career. Martha
Jane was a feminist; not in a strident or militant way, but as a tireless advocate of the
proposition that a woman is equally effective as a man in the practice of law.
Martha Jane was also an advocate of the nobility of the law. She believed the law
was a calling, much like the ministry, for the greater good of mankind. She despised
lawyer jokes the way others despise racial or ethnic jokes because she believed they
reinforced a false stereotype. As executive director of the CBA, she championed con-
tinuing legal education and fostered interaction with other professional organizations.
She was active in the Ohio State and American Bar Associations; and served as
president of the Cincinnati Society of Association Executives, as well as secretary of the
National Association of Bar Executives.
Martha Jane was a groundbreaker in other areas, as well. She proved a woman
could manage a professional career and a family — a novel idea in the 1950s — as she
and her husband Charles, a landscape architect, raised four boisterous boys while both
Martha Jane was also an avid traveler, having been to almost 50 countries on every
continent except Antarctica. She loved golf and bridge. She was a board member of
the University of Cincinnati Foundation, and was honored as a recipient of the Cincin-
nati Bar Association Themis Award and the University of Cincinnati Distinguished
Martha Jane proved a woman could have it all: a career, a family and the respect
and admiration of her peers. Martha Jane is survived by her sons Charles, Jr., Tony,
Mark and Robert; and numerous grandchildren.
— Charles Perin
Martha Hildenbrand Perin
1921 – 2012