ALBANY--The New York State Bar Association's Committee on Children and the Law will present the 22nd annual Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare, at a reception on April 24, 2008, at the State Bar Center in Albany at 5:30 p.m. Special Recognition Awards also will be presented at the reception to Hon. Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, and Bar Association President Kathryn Grant Madigan of Binghamton (Levene Gouldin & Thompson LLP).

The Howard A. Levine Award is presented annually to individuals who demonstrate outstanding work protecting and promoting the rights of children in New York. The award is named for former Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine, a strong proponent and leader in the effort to improve New York's child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The 2008 recipients are Professor Jane M. Spinak, Columbia University School of Law; and Margaret A. Burt, Esq., of Pittsford. Hon. Edward O. Spain, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Third Department and chair of the Association's Committee on Children and the Law, will present the awards.

"Professor Spinak and Ms. Burt represent the very best of child advocacy," said Justice Spain. "They each work tirelessly in representing and in support of those who represent our most vulnerable citizens and it is fitting that we recognize their selfless contributions to society."

The Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia University School of Law, Spinak is a renowned lecturer and scholar on family law and child advocacy, having published many articles and books. She received her undergraduate degree from Smith College, and her law degree from New York University School of Law. She co-founded the Child Advocacy Clinic, which currently represents adolescents aging out of foster care. She serves on many task forces and committees to address the needs of children and families. She was named a Human Rights Hero for her work by the American Bar Association's Human Rights Magazine.

One of New York 's most widely recognized child advocates, Burt received her undergraduate degree from the State University College of New York at Fredonia, summa cum laude, and her law degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School. She conducts a private practice specializing in trial and appellate work in child welfare, foster care adoptions and child abuse cases. A substantial amount of her practice involves consulting and training for lawyers, judges, caseworkers and service providers all around the country in the areas of child abuse and neglect, permanency for foster children, the termination of parental rights, adoptions and trial techniques. She is a frequent lecturer and consultant for the American Bar Association, the New York Public Welfare Association, the New York State University Research Foundation and the New York State Office of Court Administration.

Burt received the Stephanie E. Kupferman Juvenile Justice Award from the Women's Bar Association of the State of New Yorkand the Child Advocate of 2007 Award from the Children Awaiting Parents Organization.

The 2007 recipients were Sarah H. Ramsey, Professor of Law at Syracuse University and Director of the Family Law and Social Policy Center; and Mishi Faruqee, Director of the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York. Other past recipients include Justice Spain; Judge Kaye; Award Subcommittee co-chair Professor Merril Sobie (Pace University School of Law); Hon. Joseph M. Lauria (New York City Family Court), Hon. Sharon S. Townsend (Erie County Supreme Court); Hon. Eugene F. Pigott, Jr. (NYS Court of Appeals); and Matilda Cuomo, former First Lady of New York State.

The 74,000 member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.


Contact: Brandon J. Vogel
Media Writer, Department of Media Services & Public Affairs