By: Mallory McGee
On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, former New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye passed away at the age of 77 years old, leaving behind a legacy as an advocate for social justice who paved the way for many women in the legal profession.
Born Judith Ann Smith on August 4, 1938 in Monticello, New York to Polish immigrants Benjamin and Lena, Judge Kaye skipped two grades and was admitted to Barnard College at the age of fifteen. At Barnard, she studied Latin American Civilization and worked for local newspapers in the hopes of pursuing a career in journalism. Post graduation, Judge Kaye landed her first journalism job at the Hudson Dispatch, a newspaper in Union City, New Jersey where she reported on the society pages. In the hopes of furthering her journalism career, she decided to enroll in New York University’s law school. She attended law school part time and worked as a copy editor by day. The law began to appeal to her more and in 1962, Judith Kaye graduated from N.Y.U Law School; she was one of ten women in her graduating class of 300.
Following law school graduation, Judge Kaye worked at Sullivan and Cromwell for two years and then went to IBM’s legal department. While raising her family, Judge Kaye worked as an assistant to the dean at N.Y.U. Then she went to Olwine, Connelly, Chase, O’Donnell & Weyher, where she became the first female partner. Her career took a different turn when former Governor Mario Cuomo stated that if elected, he would appoint the first female judge to the Court of Appeals.… <Read More>