Taking on the Law
McCulloch enrolled at the Union College of Law in Chicago (currently Northwestern University Law School) in 1885, receiving her Bachelor of Laws in 1886. Despite her education, McCulloch could not find work in Chicago after graduation. She moved back to Rockford and began her own law practice.
McCulloch met Frank McCulloch at the Union College of Law, and the couple married in 1890. Frank supported women’s rights, and he encouraged McCulloch in her desire to legally represent women. After Catharine had trouble getting a position as an attorney, the couple started their own law firm.
Together, the McCullochs opened a law practice in Chicago, taking on many cases that dealt with women’s rights. The McCulloch’s firm focused on assisting women with problems related to their lack of legal status: wage discrimination, divorce, probate, child custody, and spousal abuse. Through representing women with these issues, she emerged as a leading figure among the advocates for women’s rights in the state and a leading advocate of women’s suffrage.
Through 55 years of marriage, the couple raised 4 children and maintained a very successful professional partnership. For their 50th wedding anniversary in 1940, Dwight Perkins, husband of Lucy Fitch Perkins, wrote them a congratulatory letter saying, “You have accomplished wonders by your life together.”