About the Committee on Women in the Law

MISSION: Established in 1986, the Committee on Women in the Law is charged with the responsibility of identifying, studying and making recommendations to address gender bias and law-related issues affecting women. The Committee proposes legislation; the adoption and implementation of policy by the Executive Committee and House of Delegates of the New York State Bar Association; and other actions to ensure the fair treatment of women under law and the full participation of women in the administration of justice and as equal members of the legal community. The Committee is a standing committee of the Association as designated by the House of Delegates in 1989.

SCOPE OF ACTIVITIES: The Committee conducts studies and develops recommendations; comments on and proposes legislation; drafts model policies on women’s issues; presents educational programs and publications; and coordinates its work with other Committees and Sections of the Association as well as other organizations addressing gender-related legal issues.

PROJECTS: The following illustrate recent projects of the Committee: Gender Equity Study (2002/2003); Endorsement of state legislation to adopt state Equal Rights Amendment (Summer 2005); Review/endorsement of state legislation to extend statute of limitations in rape cases (Summer 2006); Review/endorsement of legislation to address human trafficking (Summer 2006), Review/opposition of Stupak amendment (2009); Review/support of the New York State Fair Pay Act (2011).

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS: The Committee has presented educational forums on gender concerns; sexual harassment in the profession; balancing professional and family responsibilities; career development beyond partnerships; women in politics; seeking service on the bench; and breast cancer. Additionally, the Committee presents forums for women law students on career issues and opportunities.

AWARDS: To provide recognition for exemplary achievement by a male or female member of the Association in addressing the concerns of women, an Association award was established in honor of the Committee's first Chair, Ruth G. Schapiro. The annual award was proposed and is administered by the Committee. The first recipient of this award in 1992 was The Honorable Judith S. Kaye. For more information about the Ruth G. Schapiro Memorial Award, click here.

To honor women in the profession who recognize the value of diversity in the legal profession and have dedicated their time to advancing the professional development of women attorneys, the Committee has established the Kay Crawford Murray Award. Future recipients will posses the following characteristics: A distinguished legal career or a rising star in the profession; An active member of bar associations for the purpose of advancing the professional and personal development of women attorneys; An active mentor to women attorneys. For more information about the Kay Crawford Murray Award, click here.

ASSOCIATION RESOURCE: Working with other Committees and Sections, the Committee is a resource to facilitate active involvement of women in the NYSBA. The Committee issues reports on participation levels of women in Association activities to assist Association, Section and Committee leaders in advancing opportunities for involvement of women.

COMMITTEE PROCEDURES: The Executive Council of the Committee, consisting of Co-Chairs, Secretary and Treasurer meets monthly by conference call. Diversity is sought in composition in regard to gender, race, geographic location, fields of practice, and other aspects.

The Committee establishes subcommittees to address particular issues. Currently, subcommittees include the Annual Meeting Program; Awards; Best Practices; Legislation; Women on the Move; Publicity; and Programming and Events. Subcommittees generally convene by conference call. Committee members are surveyed concerning their areas of interest, and for their recommendations of issues and activities that should be considered.

PAST CHAIRS OF THE COMMITTEE ON WOMEN IN THE LAW:
Sharon Porcellio (Term: 6/1/11‐5/31/13)
Taa R. Grays (Term: 6/1/07‐5/31/11)
Donna M. Petrucelli (Term: 6/1/03‐5/31/07)
Carla M. Palumbo (Term: 7/12/00‐5/31/03)
Faye M. Polayes (Term: 6/1/99‐7/11/00)
June M. Castellano (Term: 6/1/96‐5/31/99)
Claire P. Gutekunst (Term: 6/1/93‐5/31/96)
Kay Crawford Murray (Term: 6/6/90‐5/31/93)
Maryann Saccomando Freedman (Term: 5/30/89‐6/6/90)
Ruth G. Schapiro (Term: 8/14/85‐5/30/89)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact Brittany Lewis, Committee on Women in the Law, NYSBA, One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207; 518-463-3200.