One of Albany Law School’s most memorable and favorite traditions is KATE STONEMAN DAY. Katherine “Kate” Stoneman Class of 1898, an activist and suffragette, was the first woman to pass the New York State Bar Exam, but her application to join the bar was rejected based solely on her gender. She then launched a successful campaign to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to permit the admission of qualified applicants without regard to sex or race and became the first woman admitted to practice law in New York, paving the way for thousands who followed. Just this past October, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Although Stoneman Day was started as a day to honor and celebrate Kate and the advancement of women in the profession, it has become “all that and more”. Kate’s story is a uniquely Albany Law story — she embodied competence, tenacity, passion and political savvy. So it is fitting that her day is celebrated by telling and creating new Albany Law School stories. Stoneman Day offers students and alums the chance to network, make employment contacts, celebrate our special history, eat delicious food and honor forward thinking lawyers of the present day.
KEYNOTE: “Legend in the Law” Patricia McGowan Wald, Chief Judge D.C. Court of Appeals (1986-91);
Working in the factories of northwestern Connecticut gave Judge Wald not only money to pay for her education, but introduced her to the fundamentals of the labor movement and the social needs of blue-collar workers. The factory experience helped shape her decision to attend law school as a means to help that segment of American society. She attended Yale Law School as one of a mere handful of female students, served as Case Editor on the Yale Law Journal and graduated with honors in 1951.
Leaving New Haven, she went to work as a clerk for Judge Jerome Frank of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The venerable judge called her the best clerk he ever had. Following her clerkship, she went to work for the Washington, DC firm of Arnold & Porter, leaving the firm after about a year to join her Navy JAG husband, Robert, who had been assigned to duty in Norfolk. For almost a decade, Judge Wald stayed at home, devoting her energies to launching the lives of the couple’s five children and doing occasional legal research and writing. When she returned to the practice of law in the early sixties, Judge Wald enthusiastically focused her attentions and abilities on multiple roles. In over a dozen public and private leadership positions, she worked in such diverse fields as criminal justice, juvenile law, mental disability law, drug abuse, poverty and public interest law, administrative law, constitutional law, judicial process, and women and the law.
In 1977, she was appointed as Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated her to fill a newly created seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – the first woman ever to sit on that bench. She remained on the court until 1999 and served as its chief judge from 1986 to 1991. In February 2004, Wald was appointed to the Iraq Intelligence Commission, an independent panel tasked with investigating U.S. intelligence surrounding the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Wald agreed to serve on The Constitution Project’s Guantanamo Task Force in December 2010. (taken from http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/resources/legends_in_the_law/wald.cfm http://www.conncoll.edu/news/archives/2262.cfm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Wald) .