Committee on Women in the Law Home

  • CWIl Display
    Honoring the 100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage
  • Journal 2
    Committee on Women in the 30th Anniversary Cocktail Celebration and Journal Launch Check out the recap and pics here.
  • Pathways
    Get a Running Start! Pathways for Women Interested in Politics Check out pics and a recap of this event.
  • Recent Events
    • November 7, 2017: State Bar Association Adopts Report On Gender Disparity In The Courtroom, Commemorates Women's Suffrage Centennial

      The New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates has approved a report that determined women attorneys remain considerably underrepresented in courtrooms across the state as well as in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The report entitled “If Not Now, When? Achieving Equality for Women Attorneys in the Courtroom and in ADR,” was compiled by the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section’s Task Force on Women’s Initiatives.

      The report is based on the first-ever observational study of women attorneys in the courtroom. It reveals that female attorneys comprise about 25 percent of attorneys in lead counsel roles in courtrooms statewide.

      The study took place from Sept. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. The New York Court of Appeals, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, two of the four federal district courts, all four appellate divisions as well as commercial divisions in supreme courts in counties from Suffolk to Onondaga and Erie participated. Three of the leading ADR providers in the state also participated. Approximately 2,800 questionnaires were completed and returned by judges in participating courts.

      “We recognize that more can and should be done to ensure that women and diverse voices are heard and are taking an active part in the judicial and dispute resolution process,” said Past President of the State Bar Association Bernice K. Leber of New York City (Arent Fox), a co-chair of the Task Force. 

      “All lawyers and especially women lawyers should have the same chance to speak in court, conduct arbitrations, mediations, and serve as neutrals, as others have enjoyed,” continued Leber. “These are issues of fundamental fairness in our profession.” 

      Other task force co-chairs are: retired U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin of New York City (Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and JAMS); former Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie H. Cohen of New York City (Morrison & Foerster); Tracee E. Davis of New York City (Zeichner, Ellman & Krause); Sharon M. Porcellio of Buffalo (Bond, Schoeneck & King); Lesley F. Rosenthal of New York City (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts); and Lauren J. Wachtler of New York City (Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp). All are former chairs of the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section.  

      State Bar President Sharon Stern Gerstman plans to present the report to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates at its next meeting in February to urge their adoption as its official policy.

      The adoption of the report comes as New York celebrates its suffrage centennial when women won the right to vote Nov. 6, 1917. In honor, the Association’s Committee on Women in the Law has unveiled its exhibition at the State Bar Center entitled “A Centennial Commemoration of Women’s Suffrage and the Achievement of Legal Rights.”

      Additionally, the New York Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the State Bar Association, has unveiled its portrait of the late Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye. In 1983, Kaye became the first woman to serve on the state’s Court of Appeals. A decade later, she was named Chief Judge. The portrait will hang prominently in the State Bar Center’s Great Hall.

      For a link to the report, as well as the suffrage exhibition and Kaye portrait, please visit http://www.nysba.org/womeninthelawny/.

      About the New York State Bar Association
      Since 1876, the New York State Bar Association helps shape the development of law, educates and informs the legal profession and the public, and champions the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


      Contact: Christian Nolan
      Senior Writer 
      cnolan@nysba.org
      518-487-5536

    • November 13: 2017: Nomination Deadline for Kay Crawford Murray Award

      KAY CRAWFORD MURRAY AWARD

      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. Future recipients will possess 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.

      ContactKathleen Baxter

      2018 Call for Nomination Form

      Deadline: November 13, 2017

      Date Presented: January 23, 2018, Kay Crawford Murray Award Luncheon, New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting

      Award Criteria: 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;and an active mentor to women attorneys. 

      Prize Awarded: Crystal vase with inscription or comparable

      PAST RECIPIENTS:
      CWILKCMGroupB

      2017 Cathrine A. Christian
      2016
       Dolores Gebhardt
      2015 Karen E. Simmons
      2014 Connie O. Walker
      2013 Hon. Sondra Miller
      2012 Pamela Jones Harbour, Esq.
      2011 Nancy D. Peck, Esq. 
      2010 Hon. Jenny Rivera 
      2009 Marissa C. Wesely, Esq. 
      2008 Kay Crawford Murray, Esq.  

    • November 13, 2017: Nomination Deadline for Ruth G. Schapiro Memorial Award

      RUTH G. SCHAPIRO MEMORIAL AWARD

      To honor a male or female member of the Association who has made a noteworthy contribution to the concerns of women through pro bono services, writing, service to bar associations or community organizations or other such endeavors.

      Contact: Kathleen Baxter

      2017 Call for Nomination Form

      Deadline: November 13, 2017

      Date Presented: Friday, January 26, 2018, January House of Delegates Meeting 

      Award Criteria: Person must be a member of the NYSBA and must have made a noteworthy contribution to the concerns of women through activities stated above. 

      Prize Awarded: Crystal vase with inscription

      PAST RECIPIENTS

      2016 Chief Judge Janet D. Fiore
      2015
       Dean Patricia Salkin
      2014 Hon. Joan S. Kohout
      2013 Kathleen Donelli
      2012 
      Kathryn Grant Madigan
      2011 Kim K. Azzarelli 
      2010 Susan B. Lindenauer, Esq. 
      2009 Hon. Evelyn Frazee 
      2008 Karen DeCrow, Esq. 
      2007 Hon. Jacqueline W. Silbermann 
      2006 Rhonda Copelon, Professor 
      2006 Edith I. Spivack, Esq. 
      2005 Catherine Jean Douglass, Esq. 
      2004 Denise E. O'Donnell, Esq. 
      2003 Eileen R. Kaufman, Esq. 
      2002 M. Catherine Richardson, Esq. 
      2001 Hon. Lawrence H. Cooke 
      2001 Hon. Kristin Booth Glen 
      2000 Joan L. Ellenbogen, Esq. 
      1999 Hon. Rachel Kretser 
      1998 Anne F. Mead, Esq. 
      1997 Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin 
      1996 Hon. M. Dolores Denman 
      1995 Hon. Sondra Miller 
      1994 Maryann Saccomando Freedman, Esq. 
      1993 Fern Schair, Esq. 
      1992 Hon. Judith S. Kaye 

  • About the Committee

    CWIL Group
    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. The CWIL 2016-2017 programming year has come to a close. Read the 2016-2017 Year-End Summary here.

    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.

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

  • Trailblazers

    Women Attorney Trailblazers in New York State

    New York State has a rich history of amazing trailblazing women attorneys who broke through many barriers and blatant discrimination to make major contributions in the legal profession.  Their stories are ones of fierce determination, passion for the law, keen intelligence, and inspiring achievement.  

    From the late 19th Century, when the first women gained admission to state bars, through the 1960s, women attorneys faced closed doors and discrimination.  Women have made tremendous strides in the past 40 years - in large part due to the efforts of women attorneys who overcame obstacles and blazed a path for other women attorneys to follow.  

    The Committee on Women in the Law - whose first chair, Ruth Schapiro, was one of the women trailblazers at New York State Bar Association - is delighted to spotlight the lives and careers of 10 women lawyers who fought discrimination and gained a foothold in a range of legal careers. These women have paved the way for other women attorneys, serving as role models and, often, as mentors.

    We hope that you will draw inspiration from the stories of these 10 remarkable New York attorneys.   

    Sincerely,

    Maureen Bezuhly
    Co-chair, Committee on Women in the Law Best Practices Subcommittee
    New York City

    Monica P. Ruela
    Co-chair, Committee on Women in the Law Best Practices Subcommittee
    New York City

    Susan Harper
    Co-chair, Committee on Women in the Law
    Bogota

    Ferve E. Ozturk
    Co-chair, Committee on Women in the Law
    New York City

    Read the brochure here.

  • Paid Leave Report
    At its Nov. 7 meeting in Albany, NY, the NYSBA House of Delegates voted to approve the Committee on Women in Law's report advocating for passage of The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, introduced this year by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY. The report was prepared by the CWIL Legislative Subcommittee in a team effort led by Legislative Subcommittee Co-chair Susan Harper, who made presentations on the Committee's research and findings to the NYSBA Executive Committee and House of Delegates. The Executive Committee approved the CWIL report with a unanimous vote with one abstention. With the House of Delegates approval, the report's findings are now Association policy. Further, the Executive Committee has approved advocating for national paid family and medical leave as one of the Association's federal Legislative Priorities for 2016.  

    Download the Committee on Women in the Law Paid Leave Report.