Steckler Recognized as one of the New York Law Journal’s Top Women in the Law in 2016

Tamara “Tami” Steckler, the Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, was featured in a New York Law Journal special section today on the women selected as the Top Women in the Law in 2016. Tami was one of 30 women lawyers selected for the award. Other recipients include law firm partners, general counsel, legal educations, and public officials.

The special section (printed below) noted her successful advocacy on issues like caseload caps for the attorneys representing children and the establishment of weekend and holiday arraignments for minors arrested in New York City. It also mentioned Steckler’s instrumental role in reforms that put New York City youths adjudicated as juvenile delinquents in facilities close to their homes and families. The section included Steckler’s own insights on her dedication to low-income women and children and opportunities for women in the legal profession.

Steckler and the other recipients are scheduled to be honored at an awards ceremony on November 15.

The New York Law Journal
Top Women In The Law
Nov. 14, 2016

Tamara Steckler
Attorney-in-Charge, Juvenile Rights Practice, Legal Aid Society

Shortly after taking over the juvenile rights practice at the Legal Aid Society in 2005, Tamara Steckler successfully led the charge to cap caseloads for attorneys for children. She convinced New York City to hold weekend and holiday arraignments for arrested minors, who had waited in detention for up to 72 hours before being appointed counsel and seeing a judge for the first time. And she played a key role in overhauling the system for placing New York City youth who are adjudicated juvenile delinquents, helping them get better care close to their families, rather than holding them in facilities all over the state, hundreds of miles away.

If I weren't a lawyer, I'd be …

I went into law for the sole purpose of serving low-income children and families. I would choose a career in which I could do the same.

The mentor/lawyer I most admire is …

Gladys Carrion, the commissioner of New York City's Administration for Children's Services. More than anyone I have known, she has committed her life and significant talent to helping children and families throughout New York state.

What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Make people tell you how something can happen, before they tell you why it can't. I always come from a place of "yes" and like big picture, innovative thinking.

#1 survival tip in a work crisis:

Brainstorming and organizing.

Have you ever been treated differently on the job because of your gender?

The area of law in which I practice has been fairly kind to women. The Juvenile Rights Practice, while started by a man, has had three other female leaders before me, and the Legal Aid Society values women as leaders. I have felt very supported in my profession. Even given that, I am very conscious of the challenges of being a professional woman, and I am very committed to supporting other women in their careers and lives. I believe in strong sisterhood.

What must the legal profession do to improve opportunities for women lawyers?

I think the most important thing any profession can offer women is a workplace free of stereotypical thinking, misogynistic undertones, and damaging—and too often accepted—male posturing.