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News & Press: Press Releases

NAPABA Names Doris Ling-Cohan as its 2017 Women’s Leadership Award Recipient

Wednesday, September 13, 2017  
Posted by: Brett Schuster
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News Release


For Immediate Release
Sept. 13, 2017

                                                    For More Information, Contact:
                                                    Brett Schuster, Communications Manager
                                                    bschuster@napaba.org, 202-775-9555

NAPABA Names Doris Ling-Cohan as its 2017 Women’s Leadership Award Recipient

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WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) has named the Honorable Doris Ling-Cohan, New York State Supreme Court judge, Appellate Term, First Department, as the recipient of the 2017 NAPABA Women’s Leadership Award. The award recognizes the accomplishments of women lawyers and is presented to an individual who has achieved professional excellence in her field, demonstrated leadership and understanding of women’s issues, and made significant contributions to the Asian Pacific American legal community.

The award will be presented at the Women’s Leadership Network Breakfast & Plenary at the 2017 NAPABA Convention in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2017.

Born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown by immigrant parents, Justice Ling-Cohan has had a distinguished career as a judge for over 20 years and as an attorney for over 35 years. She has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the advancement of women, promoting justice, and strengthening the Asian Pacific American community.

As a former legal services attorney, assistant attorney general, and law professor, Justice Ling-Cohan’s career has included many barrier breaking firsts. Graduating summa cum laude from CUNY/Brooklyn College, Justice Ling-Cohan attended New York University’s School of Law on a full scholarship. When she graduated in 1979, she was one of only two women of Asian descent in her class of 360. In a historic election in 1995, Justice Ling-Cohan was elected to be a New York City Civil Court Judge, becoming the first Asian Pacific American public official to be elected from the Chinatown district. In 2002, she became the first Asian Pacific American woman to be elected to the bench of the New York State Supreme Court. In 2014, she was appointed to the Appellate Term, First Department marking the first time an Asian Pacific American woman has been elevated to an appellate court in New York State.

Justice Ling-Cohan's ascension to the Appellate Term, First Department is the latest leg in a long journey through New York's legal system that began when she was in her teens. As a teenager, Justice Ling-Cohan’s mother was assaulted in Brooklyn. Justice Ling-Cohan accompanied her mother on a trip to Family Court for a hearing where little information was provided to her family. At the end of a long day of waiting in court, the family had even less information than when they arrived. No one told them where to go, or when to come back. There were no translators. When it was over, the family had no idea what had happened.

This confusing and upsetting experience was formative to Justice Ling-Cohan and she dedicated a good portion of her career as a public interest lawyer and a judge to help people navigate the complexities of the legal system and to expand access to justice. Her efforts have been recognized by the National Law Journal, the New York Post, and the New York State Dispute Resolution Association. In 2015, she served on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Legal Services Initiative Think Group where she focused on the legal needs of older disabled adults and their caregivers to ultimately ensure equal access to justice for these groups.

Justice Ling-Cohan is also a pioneer on women’s issues and, in particular, has made great strides for Asian Pacific American women in New York. While attending law school, Justice Ling-Cohan worked at a legal services office that served women who were victims of domestic violence. Since then, Justice Ling-Cohan helped found the New York Asian Women’s Center (now Womankind) to serve women of Asian descent who are victims of domestic violence. She served on its first board for numerous years and even housed survivors in her family’s home. Justice Ling-Cohan has also served as a Service Fund Board Member for the National Organization of Women and on the Color of Justice and Immigrant Women and Children Committee of the National Association of Women Judges.

Justice Ling-Cohan is active at her alma mater (NYU Law School) encouraging its women of color through its Women of Color Collective program. She has also been very active in NAPABA as president of the Judicial Council for the last five years, which includes state and federal judges of Asian descent.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or bschuster@napaba.org.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and over 80 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.

NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).