The Association of Black Women Attorneys (ABWA) was founded in June 1976 by Marva A. Allen, Professor Paulette M. Caldwell, Judge Eardell Jenner Rashford, Deacon Cynthia W. Roundtree, Margaret Price Williams and Sylvia Guilford Wright, all graduates of Howard University School of Law. We are a not-for-profit bar association that promotes and supports the professional development and growth of African-American women attorneys. Our members are successful women in the New York Metro area, practicing in a variety of areas at law firms, in solo practice, at city, state and federal government agencies, as well as in finance, teaching and the judiciary. Our past presidents range from federal court Judges to Partners at AM Law 100 law firms.
“Lifting As We Rise” is our guiding principle. Over the past 40 years, ABWA has provided a home for African-American women attorneys in the Greater New York City Area. We strive to give a sense of community and common purpose to our members, as we support and promote their talents and skills—always with the goal of personal and professional growth. By working together through ABWA, we can both be a neighbor to one another and magnify the impact of our efforts in the greater NYC community.
ABWA is also committed to promoting the pursuit of legal education by minority students through its annual Ruth Whitehead Whaley Scholarship Fund, named in honor of the legal pioneer and first African-American woman admitted to the New York state Bar. Each year, ABWA awards scholarships to law students who demonstrate not only financial need, but who exhibit an interest in public interest or civil rights law and actively participates in community service. To fund our scholarship efforts, ABWA hosts our annual Ruth Whitehead Whaley Luncheon. Every five years we have an Anniversary Gala that help to fund our other programs as well as the Scholarship.
In addition to the annual Ruth Whitehead Whaley Luncheon, ABWA has established a number programs including networking receptions, community outreach events, legislative panel discussions, and other programs that focus on issues of concern and interest to our members. Some notable programs include ABWA’s annual Associate Dinner, Breast Cancer Awareness and Women’s Health Forum, Elementary School Career Day, and Volunteer Day at the Bowery Men’s Missionary. ABWA continues to host programs that promote the professional development of our members and serve our community.
Over the past 40 years, ABWA has worked hard to exceed our member’s expectations. In the next 40 years, we are excited to work together to establish and achieve new goals.
Our President and Board of Directors are responsible for directing and managing the Associations affairs. ABWA’s Committee Chairs lead our committees, which are the cornerstone of the organization, and plan our various events throughout the year.
Our members practice in both the public and private sectors of the legal industry. Some are in-house, others at firms, or are solo practitioners. Many of our members are also members of the judiciary. We are grateful to our members whose affiliation and dedication to ABWA are the true driving force behind us.