Elin Lauritzen was one of the first three female lawyers in Sweden. For many years she was one of Sweden’s most prominent and most knowledgeable practitioners in family law.
Elin Lauritzen was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1916. She was the second child of Kari and Johan T Paues. Her father was the consul general and later ambassador in Brazil. She gained her school-leaving certificate in Stockholm in 1935 and began attending Stockholms högskola (college) that same year. She decided early on to continue her education and study law. Seven of her fellow classmates were women, but the remaining 150 students were all men. She gained her Bachelor of Law in 1940. She accepted civil engineer Folke Lauritzen’s proposal of marriage under the condition that she would be allowed to gain her law degree and further be allowed to earn a living. Folke Lauritzen agreed to these conditions and the couple married and went on to have three daughters together during the 1940s.
Following her graduation Elin Lauritzen began to work as a court notary at the Södra Roslags district court in February 1940. When her husband was summoned to Norrland she accepted a position at Överkalix district court where she became the first female notary in the legal district. She moved back to Stockholm by November 1940. Although she stayed at home to raise her first daughter, in October 1942 Elin Lauritzen returned to work as a notary, this time at the Stockholm magistrates’ court. She then continued working between 1943 and 1944 as court of appeal clerk at Svea hovrätt (court of appeal), during which period she very quickly came to the realisation that she did not want to be a judge. After having had her second child she instead began working as an administrative assistant for Pensionsstyrelsen (the pensions authority) in the autumn of 1944. She was not settled at this post, but the advantage of the office being close to her home meant that she could combine work with childcare.
In order to deal with her unsettled feeling Elin Lauritzen applied for the temporary position as acting legal practitioner for the lawyer Mathilda Staël von Holstein in the spring of 1945. It was Mathilda Staël von Holstein who introduced Elin Lauritzen to the women’s movement and its various associations. Elin Lauritzen remained working at the office even after Valborg Lundgren took charge of it following the retirement of Mathilda Staël von Holstein in 1946. In the spring of 1947 she began a job as acting legal practitioner for Eva Andén and stayed in that post until 1953 at which point she opened her own legal office. Elin Lauritzen initially rented premises in Setterwalls Advokatbyrå (legal offices) but after just a couple of years she moved to her own office space. She shared it with her legal colleague Ingrid Hökerberg until the mid-1970s.
In 1949 Elin Lauritzen became a member of the Swedish Bar association. She was a member of the board of the Stockholm section of the association in 1958 and the following year she became the first woman to be elected onto the national central board. Elin Lauritzen gave her legal colleagues in-house rapid training courses in family law throughout Sweden from the 1950s right through to the end of the 1970s.
Elin Lauritzen ran her own legal office from 1953 until 1998 and was one of Sweden’s pre-eminent and most knowledgeable family law practitioners for years. The first female lawyers in Sweden tended to work in family law, largely because female clients often sought out female lawyers, and when women required legal advice it was often in matters which involved family law. Elin Lauritzen herself believed that the most important characteristics of family law lawyers was “friendliness, discretion, patience, punctuality, calmness, and a personal interest in the clients.”
Elin Lauritzen was also heavily sought after as a public speaker. In 1955 she was asked by AB Radiotjänst to lead a series of programmes entitled Lagen i vardagen (Everyday Law) which she accepted. The point of the programme was to discuss law “in simple enough terms to allow ordinary folk to understand it”. This radio series became a long-running favourite and was also released in book format.
Elin Lauritzen was an active member of Fredrika-Bremer-Förbundet (FBF) during the 1940s and 1950s. Initially she served as the association’s secretary, and subsequently, for a ten-year period, as a member of the board, the final years of which she was also the chair. When she resigned from being chair in 1959 she gave a speech entitled “Dit vi inte hunnit” (What we did not achieve) with reference to the essential women’s issues. The first item she highlighted was the demand for “equal wages”.
In addition to her work as a lawyer and all her activities in various organisations Elin Lauritzen had a great love for dancing. She was likely the only lawyer who performed a solo dance slot at the FBF annual general meetings.
Elin Lauritzen died in 2006 and is buried at Djursholm cemetery.