June 1, 2016: Claire P. Gutekunst of Yonkers Takes Office as President of the New York State Bar Association

Claire P. Gutekunst of Yonkers assumes office today, June 1, as the 119th president of the New York State Bar Association.

Gutekunst, an independent mediator and arbitrator, is the sixth woman to serve as president of the 74,000-member Association.  She succeeds David P. Miranda of Albany (Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti).

"The New York State Bar Association has been the voice for New York lawyers for 140 years," said Gutekunst, who, during her tenure, plans to advance its mission to serve both the legal profession and the public. 

"Access to justice for all is critical to the well-being of society. Many low-income New Yorkers face potentially life-changing legal problems without a lawyer. They risk losing their homes, health care or child support, often creating additional problems for them and their families.” 

"The State Bar will continue working to close the justice gap though legislative advocacy and private efforts to increase funding for civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers, and by promoting opportunities for our members to provide pro bono services," Gutekunst said.

As the legal profession undergoes changes caused by globalization, economic pressures and technology, the State Bar Association can assist attorneys in serving their clients, she said.

"Practicing law challenges attorneys to keep up with the latest judicial decisions, laws and regulations,  social and economic changes, technology and other professional developments. The State Bar Association offers attorneys quality publications, legal updates in their areas of practice, educational programs, practice management tools and opportunities to connect and learn from with other attorneys and judges from across the state," Gutekunst said. 

"In addition, Association membership offers opportunities to improve our legal system through legislative advocacy," she said.

Personal and Professional Background

Gutekunst, an active member of the State Bar Association for 29 years, served as president-elect during the past year and as treasurer between 2011 and 2013.  Her other leadership posts have included chairing the committees on Membership and Women in the Law and co-chairing the President’s Committee on Access to Justice. 

She is a Fellow of The New York Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Association, and a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. From 2004 to 2015, she chaired the Advisory Council of the YWCA-NYC’s Academy of Women Leaders.

In 2012, Gutekunst established her practice as an independent mediator and arbitrator. Also in 2012, she was appointed as special master for the New York City Asbestos Litigation, serving a 15-month term. Previously, she was a litigation partner at Proskauer in New York City, where she handled complex commercial disputes during nearly 30 years at the firm. 

Gutekunst earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University and a law degree from the Yale Law School. She and her husband, Arthur Perlman, live in Yonkers and have two grown sons, Jason and Jeremy.

Gutekunst will serve a one-year term as State Bar president. Also on June 1, Sharon Stern Gerstman of Buffalo (Magavern Magavern Grimm) becomes president-elect, Ellen G. Makofsky of Garden City (Makofsky & Associates) begins another term as secretary and Scott Karson of Melville (Lamb & Barnosky) takes office as treasurer. Gerstman will succeed Gutekunst as president on June 1, 2017.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  Founded in 1876, it has members in 50 states and 120 countries. 

Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs
Lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518-487-5530