Barbara D. Underwood has served as New York’s Solicitor General since 2007, except for the period from May to December of 2018, when she served as New York’s 66th Attorney General—the first woman to hold that position. Throughout her career, she has held some of the most important roles in the legal profession.
After finishing first in her class at Georgetown University Law Center, Ms. Underwood served as law clerk to two of the nation’s most brilliant legal minds: Chief Judge David L. Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Early in her career, she was a tenured Professor of Law at Yale Law School, an adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School, a visiting Professor at New York University School of Law, and a trial attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
She then commenced an illustrious career as an appellate litigator and executive supervisor in a series of public law offices: she was Chief of Appeals and Counsel to the Brooklyn District Attorney, Senior Executive Assistant for Legal Affairs to the Queens District Attorney, and Chief Assistant and Counsel to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
From 1998 to 2001, Ms. Underwood served as the Acting Solicitor General and Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States—the first female Solicitor General in American history. She has argued 20 cases in the United States Supreme Court.
After returning to the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office for several years, she was appointed in 2007 to serve as New York’s Solicitor General and has held that position ever since.
She has also served as Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Executive Committee and Council on Criminal Justice. Among her many awards, she is especially proud of the Professionalism Award she received from The American Inns of Court in 2012, honoring her many years of mentorship.
Throughout her career, Ms. Underwood has been a guardian of equal justice for all. Among many cases, she has fought against racially discriminatory jury selection, argued that federal law protects employees and students of federally funded educational institutions from sex discrimination, and defended the constitutionality of reasonable buffer zones around women’s health clinics to protect a woman’s right to choose.
Stoneman Award Recipients:
Patricia E. Salkin, Class of 1988
Patricia E. Salkin ’88 is provost of the graduate and professional divisions of Touro College—the first woman to hold that position. She was previously the first woman to serve as dean of the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Ms. Salkin joined Touro after more than two decades as a faculty member and administrator at Albany Law School, where she led the Government Law Center as it grew into a nationally recognized academic and policy institute. At Albany Law, she was instrumental in promoting the legacy of Kate Stoneman as a founding member of the Stoneman Committee and the editor of the book PIONEERING WOMEN LAWYERS: FROM KATE STONEMAN TO THE PRESENT; she also played a significant role in securing the law school’s endowed Stoneman Chair.
A pioneer in her practice area, she was the first—and is still the only—woman to serve as the author of two multi-volume treatises on land use and zoning law. Through her prominence in the field, she has been credited for paving the way for and inspiring an entire generation of women lawyers. Ms. Salkin has been described as “a champion for women” and “a mentor to hundreds, effecting change and advancing opportunities for others throughout her career” by ensuring they are invited to speak at programs and given opportunities to publish in her books and newsletters. She is a longstanding liaison to the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, and a recipient of NYSBA's Ruth G. Shapiro Memorial Award for Women in the Law.
Kelley Ross Brown, Class of 1991
Kelley Ross Brown ’91 is a partner at the Rochester-based firm Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP. Described as “a fierce and tireless advocate” for women in the legal profession, Ms. Brown created and led the implementation of the Women’s Initiative Program at Woods Oviatt Gilman. The program—a significant and sustained effort that has enhanced the culture of the firm—was established with four objectives: to promote the concept of “flexibility with accountability”; to create mentorship opportunities for all associates; to increase marketing efforts focusing on the contributions of the women attorneys; and to retain and advance the careers of talented women attorneys. The program later added a fifth focus: to add or revise the benefits that affect women in the workplace, which resulted in a significant increase in fully paid leave for caregiver attorneys.
Through her work as Chair of the NeighborWorks Community Partners board of directors and as past-president and member of NeighborWorks Rochester, Ms. Brown works to improve the ability of local single mothers and families to access stable and affordable housing. She is also chair of the Monroe County committee of the LawNY Board, a member of the campaign cabinet for the Volunteer Legal Services Project's Campaign for Justice, a past trustee of the Monroe County Bar Association, and a member of the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys.
Kate Stoneman Award Nominations:
Nominations for Kate Stoneman Awards are ongoing. Any nomination will be considered for the 2020 awards program.