Last month, before our worlds were turned upside down by COVID-19, The New York Council of Defense Lawyers (“NYCDL”) honored Isabelle Kirshner by presenting her with the 2020 Norman S. Ostrow Award (“Ostrow Award”). The NYCDL is a not-for-profit professional organization, established in 1986, whose members’ principal area of practice is the defense of criminal cases. The Ostrow Award is described by the NYCDL as “a symbol of our aspirations, namely the defense of liberty and the preservation of individual rights.” Over the last thirty years, five women, including Kirshner, have been given the award.
We have always been a fan of Kirshner, a partner at Clayman & Rosenberg LLP in New York City. We interviewed her in the early days of the blog, and have followed her work over time. In addition to her recent selection for the Ostrow Award, Kirshner was the 2018 recipient of Gideon’s Promise Equalizer Award, and the 2019 recipient of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Thurgood Marshall Practitioner of the Year Award.
Regarding Kirshner’s selection for the Ostrow Award, Jonathan P. Bach, President of the NYCDL, said, “Isabelle Kirshner has dedicated her professional life to the ideals of justice for all and truly embodies the spirit of the Ostrow Award.” He continued, “The officers and board of the NYCDL join me in honoring Isabelle for her efforts to ensure that everyone, regardless of their station in life, receive a fair and open hearing before the court.”
In an interview with Law.com, Kirshner reflected on the increase in numbers of women on the front lines of important defense cases since she began her career 35 years ago: “When I started this business, which was a long time ago, there were very few women who did this and there were certainly very few women who were sorta on the front line trying cases and dealing directly with clients,” she recounted. “There’s a lot now, particularly in the white-collar field.” Over the decades she has seen the “changing face” of the legal community and says she is glad to see more women become criminal defense attorneys.
We are glad to see more women attorneys, like Kirshner, being recognized for their achievements in the criminal defense field. Despite the times, we must continue to support and applaud fellow women criminal defense attorneys who are fighting for defendants’ rights and freedom. Congratulations, Isabelle.