Lesley Rosenthal, executive vice-president and general counsel of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, was honored with the New York State Bar Association’s Root/Stimson Award.
State Bar President Sharon Stern Gerstman presented the award to Rosenthal earlier this month at the Association’s House of Delegates meeting in Cooperstown. The award, given by the Committee on Annual Award, honors an attorney for exemplary community service.
“Lesley is the model of the lawyer who gives and gives and gives back to the community with countless volunteer efforts,” said Gerstman. “She is a most worthy recipient of our Root/Stimson award.”
While at Lincoln Center, Rosenthal pioneered a new way to procure pro bono services that reduced outside legal spending by about 90 percent in the first year. The Center receives millions of dollars worth of pro bono help each year. The approach later morphed into a statewide project through the State Bar and state Attorney General’s Office called “Charity Corps,” which helped match other nonprofits with pro bono counsel.
Since 2012, Rosenthal has raised close to $1 million as chair of the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention’s annual lawyer breakfast. She also founded a charity last year called Friends of Afghanistan, National Institute of Music, to help encourage musically inclined youths there.
Rosenthal serves as vice-president of the New York Bar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the State Bar Association. She also chairs the State Bar’s By-laws Committee.
She is a past chair of the State Bar’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. As chair, she co-founded Smooth Moves, a career strategies CLE program for attorneys of color. It also features a Pioneer Award named after former Court of Appeals Judge George Bundy Smith and a fellowship for a diverse law student to intern with a commercial judge in Manhattan.
The award is named for Elihu Root and Henry Stimson to honor their commitment to public service. Root served in President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration as secretary of state, received the Nobel Peace Prize and was a president of the New York State Bar Association. Stimson was secretary of war under Presidents William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. He also served as secretary of state under President Herbert Hoover.
“It’s unexpected, appreciated,” Rosenthal said of the honor. “Namely, I just want to turn it back around and reflect on the good works that others do, particularly the Bar Foundation, and encourage other attorneys to find causes they are passionate about and dedicate themselves to those causes. There are so many different ways to serve and so many different pressing needs.”
The 72,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Christian Nolan