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 personal growth of black women attorneys. Our membership consists primarily of successful women in the New York Metro area practicing in a myriad of areas at various entities including law firms, corporations, solo practice, city, state, and federal government agencies, and the judiciary. Our past presidents range from federal court judges to partners at AM Law 100 law firms.

“Lift As We Rise” is our guiding principle. Over the past 40 years, ABWA has provided a home for black women attorneys in the New York Metro area. We strive to offer a sense of community and common purpose to our members as we support and promote their talent and skills – always with the goal of personal and professional growth. By working together through ABWA, we can continue to uplift one another and enhance 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 merit scholarships to law students who demonstrate not only financial need, but also exhibit an interest in public interest or civil rights law and actively participate in community service. To fund our scholarship efforts, ABWA hosts its annual Ruth Whitehead Whaley Luncheon. Every five years, we host an Anniversary Gala that helps to fund the scholarships as well as support ABWA’s other programs.

In addition to the annual Ruth Whitehead Whaley Luncheon, ABWA has established a number of programs including networking receptions, community outreach events, legislative panel discussions, and other events that focus on issues of concern and interest to our members. Some notable programs include ABWA’s Annual Associates’ Dinner, Dress for Success Brunch, New York City Law Department Career Day, and Power Brunch Series. 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 members’ 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 affairs of the Associations. 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.