Two Longstanding Juvenile Justice Advocates To Be Presented With The New York State Bar Association’s Howard A. Levine Award

By David Alexander

October 6, 2023

Two Longstanding Juvenile Justice Advocates To Be Presented With The New York State Bar Association’s Howard A. Levine Award


By David Alexander

Two outstanding advocates for children and their families will be presented with the New York State Bar Association’s Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare.

Martin Guggenheim, who has taught for 50 years at the New York University School of Law, and Michele Brown, the former chief attorney at the Children’s Legal Center in Buffalo, will be honored by the association’s Committee on Children and the Law on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Bar Center in Albany.

Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson and Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association, will deliver remarks at the hour-long ceremony.

“Martin Guggenheim and Michele Brown have had an extraordinary impact on children and families throughout their distinguished careers. They have selflessly and diligently dedicated themselves to transforming the lives of New Yorkers by helping to keep families together while simultaneously mentoring and encouraging young attorneys to become engaged in family law practice,” Lewis said.

Guggenheim is among the nation’s foremost experts on children’s rights and family law. He has published six books and more than 50 articles and book chapters.

He founded the Family Defense Clinic at NYU in 1990. It was the country’s first clinic to train law students in how to represent parents at risk of losing their children to the state’s custody. The clinic introduced an interdisciplinary legal defense approach in which lawyers, social workers and advocates work closely with parents in and out of court to help ensure that children can remain in their family’s care.

Today, most parents in New York City who are in danger of losing their children participate in the interdisciplinary approach. A 2018 study concluded that the method saves New York City $50 million annually by avoiding the costs of needless foster care.

Brown was the chief attorney at the Children’s Legal Center in Buffalo, and she continues to practice as an Attorney for Children. She is a longtime member of the Fourth Department Attorneys for Children Advisory Committee and a frequent lecturer for the Third and Fourth departments’ Attorneys for Children programs.

She was recently presented with the inaugural lifetime achievement award by the Fourth Department’s Attorneys for Children in recognition of her exemplary advocacy on behalf of children and her dedication to mentoring the next generation of attorneys for children.

“Michele Brown and Martin Guggenheim personify the principles of the Howard A. Levine Award. They have guided law students, practitioners, and scholars in the field of family law and juvenile justice, which has had an enormous impact on the lives of New York’s children,” said Lorraine R. Silverman, chair of the NYSBA Committee on Children and the Law.

Brown, an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law, was previously a solo practitioner and panel attorney for children. Her practice focused on the representation of children in custody along with visitation, abuse and neglect cases.

The award is named for retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine (Whiteman Osterman & Hanna), the first chair of what was then called the Special Committee on Juvenile Justice. Levine served in a variety of public service positions for over 40 years.

About the New York State Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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