Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 05:04 am est

NYU Law alumnae receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted on September 12, 2013 | by Maria Verbaite

File photo by Lauren Strausser


In august, the New York Law Journal awarded 16 lawyers the Lifetime Achievement Award, which is the first of its kind in the law journal’s history.

Among the award recipients were four NYU School of Law alumnae, Helaine Barnett, Sheila Birnbaum, Betty Weinberg Ellerin and Judith Kaye. Each recipient will be featured in the journal’s 125th anniversary issue and honored at a celebration dinner on Nov. 4.

“We were thrilled that the 16 attorneys selected for this high honor include four NYU alumnae [which is] more than any other law school,” NYU Law dean Trevor Morrison said. “It’s particularly noteworthy that all four are women. NYU Law was one of the first law schools to admit women, and many of them have gone on to become leaders in the profession.”

Editor-in-Chief of the New York Law Journal Kris Fischer praised the four NYU alumnae and their contributions to the field.

“[They] are four outstanding women who are role models to the legal community and have contributed vastly to the community at large,” Fischer said.

Barnett, a member of the class of 1964, was the longest serving president of the Legal Services Corporation, which provides vital civil legal aid for low-income Americans.

Birnbaum, who graduated in 1965, one of the nation’s leading product liability defense attorneys, has been a professor and associate dean at NYU Law and currently serves as the special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Since graduating in 1952, Justice Weinberg Ellerin became the first woman associate justice of the appellate division of the New York Supreme Court.

Judge Kaye, a law school graduate from 1962, served as the chief judge of the Court for Appeals for 15 years and was the first woman to serve on New York’s highest court.

Kaye expressed her excitement and appreciation for being recognized by the journal.

“It thrills me to be singled out by an organization that I admire so greatly and to be honored for the work I have done over the years,” she said. “I had the opportunity to implement a good judicial system.”

Similarly, Weinberg Ellerin said this award has helped her realize the positive results that have come from her work.

“Receiving this award makes me immensely proud,” Weinberg Ellerin said. “I have had an impact on [the] advancement of women and am very proud of having broken through the gender barrier in many areas.”

Morrison expressed admiration of the recipients, who have become leaders in the legal world and shown commitment to public service.

“I hope the accomplishments of these women will serve as an inspiration to those who follow in their footsteps,” Morrison said.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 12 print edition. Maria Verbaite is a contributing writer. Email her at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.