From the welcome – by Edward J. Davis, LAC board member and partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP – to the year-end roundup by LAC’s president and director, Paul N. Samuels, good news abounded: A settlement in a headline-grabbing discrimination case, a victory for mental health and addiction coverage in health care reform – and most important, support from all corners for LAC’s critical work.
Claire Simon, YWCHAC’s executive director, center, with four of its advocates.
|It was a cool autumn night, but the Tribeca Rooftop dining room was warm with goodwill and kinship. Legal Action Center supporters gathered with business and legal power brokers to mingle, nibble and pose for photos before the main event: the presentation of the Arthur Liman Public Interest Award to honorees Amy W. Schulman, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Pfizer, and the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition on Nov. 15.
Named for LAC’s founding chairman, the award recognizes honorees’ exceptional contributions in their fields, to social justice and in areas at the core of LAC’s mission: alcohol/drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and criminal justice.
Since its establishment in 1998, the event has grown exponentially, and draws the support of general counsels, influential financial service firms, and leaders of the bar.
Now in its 10th year, the event did not disappoint.
The Liman family, too, has been a key force in LAC’s many successes, the speakers pointed out, thanking Mr. Liman’s sons, Doug and Lewis, who were on stage for the event. LAC Board Chairman Daniel K. Mayers applauded the staff itself, call it “the most dedicated small group of professionals in the world.”
Announcing a new record for LAC’s benefit fundraising, Board Member Stephen M. Cutler, General Counsel at JPMorgan Chase & Co., noted that the success would not have been possible without the honorees and their contributions. “You deserve the honors,” he said, “and we’re delighted that you agreed to do this, and it made this record-setting evening possible.”
LAC Board Member Brad S. Karp – partner and chair at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP – welcomed Amy W. Schulman to the stage with an eloquent recounting of her many accolades. Just last year, Schulman, a nationally recognized innovator, philanthropist and crusader for opportunities for women, was named to both the National Law Journal's list of the 20 Most Influential General Counsel and Forbes' World's Most Powerful Women.
|Tracie M. Gardner, LAC’s Director of State Policy/ WISH-NY, presented the award to YWCHAC, whose members have taken up the fight against HIV/AIDS in their own communities through advocacy and education.
"These young women are the advocates and leaders of the future," said Gardner, who has been working with the coalition for three years to develop presentations for policymakers and local government agencies. “We are symbiotic in our desire for social justice.”
Pointing out the coalition’s signature shirt – a sassy, colorful pronouncement that “Self Love is the New Sexy,” aptly modeled by four young advocates at the event – Claire Simon, YWCHAC’s executive director, noted the pride and encouragement the young advocates had inspired.
Mentioning the researchers, advocates and service providers who had joined the group’s efforts, she accepted the award, saying: “With this we say a heartfelt thank you. This is the beginning.”
Paul N. Samuels, left, Doug and Lewis Liman, Brad S. Karp and Amy W. Schulman.
Like Arthur Liman, he said, “Amy has made it her life’s mission to give back to the community and to help others.” Thanking the Liman family for its unwavering support of LAC since Mr. Liman founded it nearly four decades ago, he added, “Any award that caries Arthur’s name is the highest possible award that a lawyer can receive.”
Beaming, Schulman thanked her many supporters and surprised many in the audience with her story of meeting Arthur Liman when she was a teacher of his son Doug, now a film director with several blockbusters under his belt. (His most recent film, “Fair Game,” was released just this month after LAC supporters were treated to an exclusive premiere).
That parent’s night changed everything, she said, and sent her down the path to her current perch at Pfizer. Through Liman, Schulman said, she learned “the formidable power of factual investigation coupled with humanity in order to redress wrongs and to give voice to people in our world who are on the margins and often don’t have a voice.”
Years after that serendipitous parent-teacher meeting, Schulman held the Liman award, her voice brimming with emotion: “I accept this award with great humility and pleasure. Thank you so much.”
Many thanks to our honorees and guests for making the benefit a success!
Board Member Edward J. Davis welcoming the crowd to the 10th Annual Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit.