March 19, 2009


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President Emeritus Elaine R. Jones to Receive the Honorable George Bundy Smith Pioneer Award

ALBANY- The New York State Bar Association's Commercial and Federal Litigation Section today announced it will present its annual program "Smooth Moves III: Business Development Strategies for Attorneys of Color in Challenging Economic Times" on Wednesday, March 25th, at the Kaplan Penthouse in the Rose Building at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The program, co-chaired by Hon. Barry A. Cozier of New York (Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.), former Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and Carla M. Miller of New York (Universal Music Group), is designed to impart practical advice from a panel of experts on effective techniques toward developing a client base in a down economy, including developing subject matter expertise, mining business contacts, and other ways to proactively translate contacts into lucrative business.

Panelists for the CLE program, which will run from 4:00-5:30 p.m. that evening, include Andrew T. Hahn, Sr. of New York (Seyfarth Shaw LLP) and president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association; James E. Johnson of New York (Debevoise & Plimpton LLP); Elizabeth D. Moore of New York(Nixon Peabody LLP); P.D. Villarreal of New Jersey(Schering-Plough Corporation); and Theodore V. Wells, Jr., of New York (Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP). Loretta E. Lynch of New York(Hogan & Hartson LLP) will moderate the panel.

Elaine R. Jones, the President and Director-Counsel Emeritus of the NAACP - Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), will receive the George Bundy Smith Pioneer Award at the networking reception starting at 5:30 p.m.Sponsored by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, the award is given for legal excellence, community commitment and mentoring. The award presentation will follow the Section's CLE program.

"During her remarkable career, Elaine Jones worked determinedly to fight for justice and equality. She is a dynamic leader and trailblazer, embodying the pioneering example set by retired Court of Appeals Judge George Bundy Smith," said Peter Brown of New York(Baker & Hostetler LLP), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. "We are pleased to honor Ms. Jones' considerable lifetime achievements as a litigator, activist and community leader."

A graduate of Howard University , Jones became the first black woman to enroll in the University of VirginiaSchool of Law and, ultimately, the school's first African-American graduate. She was one of the first African-Americans to serve in Turkeyas part of the Peace Corps. Jones was the first African-American to be elected to the American Bar Association's Board of Governors and received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Clinton in 2000.

Jones joined the LDF in 1970, defending several death row inmates and taking on civil rights cases, and served as counsel of record in the landmark Supreme Court death penalty case Furman v. Georgia.

Aside from a two-year stint as special assistant to U.S. Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, Jr., Jones worked with the LDF her entire career, steadily rising through its leadership ranks. As legislative advocate, she played an integral role in shaping LDF's contributions to the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Jones served as director-counsel of the LDF from 1993 to 2004 and was the first woman to serve in that role.

Past award recipients include Hon. George Bundy Smith of New York (Chadbourne & Parke LLP) and Cesar A. Perales (President and General Counsel, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund).

Founded in 1988, the 2,600-member Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of NYSBA strives to improve the quality of representation of commercial clients in litigation matters, provides a forum for the improvement of law and procedure in the areas of commercial and federal litigation, and enhances the administration of justice. The section is committed to serving the professional development goals of attorneys of color and to fostering diversity in the profession.

The 78,000-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, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.