The New York City Law Department has long been committed to recruiting, retaining, and promoting a diverse community of attorneys and support professionals. The Law Department's Diversity Committee works to enhance the recruitment and retention of attorneys of all backgrounds. The Law Department's Women's Committee focuses on issues of particular importance to the 60% of our attorneys who are women.
In May 2008 Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo was awarded the New York City Bar Association's Diversity Champion Award. This award recognizes the actions and activities of individuals who embody the ideals of the City Bar’s Statement of Diversity Principles. Mr. Cardozo was honored for his achievements in recruiting and retaining diverse attorneys at the Law Department as well as for the community outreach work that he has done to foster diversity within the legal profession. In addition to increasing the number of diverse attorneys hired by the Law Department and promoted to supervisory positions, Mr. Cardozo has also successfully implemented initiatives to enhance diversity retention including: requiring employees to attend diversity and inclusion training, forming Attorney and Staff Quality of Life Committees, and increasing the opportunities for attorneys to work from home or work part-time schedules. Additional information about the award is available here.
Women at the Law Department: A History of Firsts
The office is particularly proud of its first female African-American attorney, Jane Bolin (Yale, Class of 1931), hired during the LaGuardia administration in 1937. Jane left the Law Department in 1939 to become the first African-American woman judge in the United States.
The Law Department hired its first woman attorney, Anna Moscowitz Kross (NYU, Class of 1910) in 1918. Kross left the Law Department to become the first woman Magistrate in New York State in 1933.
Another early woman at the Law Department, Justine Wise Polier (Yale, Class of 1928) became the first woman judge above the level of magistrate in New York State.
And no account of the history of women at the Law Department would be complete without Edith Spivack (Columbia, Class of 1932). Edith joined the Law Department in 1934 and served with distinction for seventy years until her retirement in 2004.
Today, diversity is reflected throughout the ranks of the Law Department. Five of our 17 division chiefs are Black, Hispanic, or openly gay or lesbian. More than half of our attorneys serve in divisions led by women.
As of February 1, 2011, over 20 percent of the attorneys in the office self-identify as Black, Hispanic, or Asian.
As of September 2011, 31 percent of our junior attorneys (graduating between 2004 to 2011) self-identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian or LGBT.
As of February 1, 2011, 31 attorneys in the office self-identify as GLBT.
As of February 1, 2011, 9 attorneys in the office self-identify as disabled.
The Law Department recruits at numerous minority job fairs, including Black Prosecutors Job Fair, Northeast BLSA, and the Southeastern Minority Job Fair.