The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association (BWBA) installed its newest president, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Marsha Steinhardt, Tuesday in the ceremonial courtroom at 360 Adams Street.
In an audience of distinguished jurists and guests, including the Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York State, Steinhardt took the oath of office. Advocating the need for a specific women’s bar, Steinhardt spoke to her decision to keep her maiden name after marriage.
Steinhardt and her husband, attorney Jeffery Feldman, exchanged wedding vows more than 23 years ago, almost immediately following Steinhardt’s election to the bench. With a budding judicial career in the making, Steinhardt found herself—as do many married professional women—deciding on her surname. More specifically, whether or not to add her husband’s initials to her monogram. “In the end, I remained a Steinhardt,” the judge said. “By changing her name, a woman can become absorbed by her husband and lose her own identity along the way,” said Steinhardt referencing her own mother’s advice. This choice, the maintain her maiden surname as a means of keeping an identity separate from her husband, displayed the importance for the BWBA Steinhardt concluded. The BWBA is set to “work with and independent of other groups,” she added.
Addressing present gender concerns, including equal pay for equal work and human trafficking, Steinhardt stressed need for the BWBA. “A women’s bar association is a given to deal with women’s issues, to focus on women’s health issues,” noted Steinhardt as she set out her agenda for the coming year.
“It is my plan to make this bar association relevant to all and to the practitioner who by day, fights the good fight in court, and at night deals with needs of her family.”