January 31, 2011


Bar leader Lindenauer honored for championing women's rights

Susan B. Lindenauer of New York, retired counsel to the president and attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society, was presented the New York State Bar Association's prestigious Ruth G. Schapiro Award at its House of Delegates meeting on January 28 at the Hilton New York in Manhattan. Sponsored by the Committee on Women in the Law, the award honors a member of the State Bar who made a positive difference in areas of concern to women in their professional or personal lives such as domestic violence, child abuse, bias, and health care.

The committee honored Lindenauer for her dedication to fighting for the rights and needs of women and children throughout her distinguished career. Lindenauer has been a leading advocate for equal opportunity and equal rights for women in the legal profession. Her accomplishments include drafting the New York County Lawyers Association Special Committee on Women Rights' amicus briefs in the case of Brooklyn Union Gas Co. v. New York State Human Rights Appeals Bd. 41.N.Y.2d 84 (1976), which granted pregnant women disability benefits under New York State Law; initiating an oral history project of women graduates of Columbia Law School from the 1930s and 1940s (which she continues to co-chair); and mentoring female law students through New York University School of Law's Sex Discrimination Clinic, which handled women's right cases.

Taa Grays of New York (MetLife), co-chair of the Committee on Women in the Law, said, "Susan Lindenauer became a lawyer to be an agent for change and make a positive difference in the world. So many people and organizations - particularly in the area of women's rights - have benefited from her boundless talents and skills. By taking on the important issues such as pregnancy disability benefits, helping women succeed in the legal profession, or advocating for civil legal services for poor families, she has made a real difference in lives of women in all walks of life. We are proud to present this award to Susan Lindenauer in recognition of her unparalleled contributions and successes in helping women and the disadvantaged."

Committee Co-chair Sharon M. Porcellio of Rochester (Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy LLP) added, "In the spirit of the great Ruth Schapiro, Susan Lindenauer's passion for the law is equaled only by her devotion for women's rights. Her valuable insights and personal encouragement have helped countless women lawyers in both their professional and personal lives. She is, indeed, a most deserving recipient of this award."

A magna cum laude graduate of Smith College and cum laude graduate of Columbia Law School, Lindenauer began her legal career as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. She spent the next 38 years with the Legal Aid Society, first as a staff attorney in the Society's Civil Division, and later serving as assistant for legal affairs to the executive director, counsel to the executive director, and counsel to the president and attorney-in-chief. She worked on issues that disproportionately affected poor women in their role as mothers and caregivers.

Within the State Bar, Lindenauer is a member of the House of Delegates and currently co-chairs the Family Court Task Force. She served on the Bar's Executive Committee for seven years as a vice-president of the 1st Judicial District and as a member-at-large. She previously chaired the Criminal Justice Section and the Special Committee on Grand Jury Project. She received the Criminal Justice Section's Special Recognition for Service to the Bar and the Community Award in 2001. She is chair of the fellows of The New York Bar Foundation and has served on its board of directors since 1999.

Lindenauer is a member of the board of directors of Legal Momentum and the New York County Lawyers' Association Foundation, Inc. She previously served as president of the Columbia University Law School Association and chaired the 75th Anniversary Celebration of Admission of First Women to Columbia Law School. She was the recipient of the Columbia University Alumni Medal in 1998 and the Law School Medal of Excellence in 2002. She also was appointed by then-Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye to the New York State Commission on the Jury in 2003.

The Schapiro Award was developed and is administered by the Committee on Women in the Law in honor of its first chair, Ruth G. Schapiro. The committee's initial report, developed in 1987 under Schapiro's guidance, has served as a springboard for subsequent State Bar reports and actions on issues affecting not only women in the profession, but the public at large. These include domestic violence, child abuse, bias, health issues, and gender equity. Through Schapiro's leadership, the committee instituted educational programs and publications for the public and the profession.

Past recipients include: Hon. Judith S. Kaye, retired Chief Judge of the State of New York; Maryann Saccomando Freedman, past president of the New York State Bar Association, currently with Cohen & Lombardo, PC; M. Catherine Richardson, past president of the New York State Bar Association and retired partner (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC); Karen DeCrow, 2009 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee and former president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), who is a solo practitioner in Jamesville, New York; and Hon. Evelyn Frazee, State Supreme Court Justice in the 7th Judicial District.

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and 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 135 years.