Law School hosts tribute to pioneering women lawyers

Belva B. Lockwood, Kate Stoneman, Helen Z.M. Rodgers, Charlotte Smallwood-Cook and Shirley St. Hill Chisholm.

Belva B. Lockwood, Kate Stoneman, Helen Z.M. Rodgers, Charlotte Smallwood-Cook and Shirley St. Hill Chisholm

Published October 15, 2015 This content is archived.


The path-breaking work of five female lawyers will be the focus as the University at Buffalo School of Law hosts Western New York Women Pioneers in the Law: A Celebration. The event is also sponsored by the Historical Society of the New York Courts and the Phillips Lytle law firm.  

The program will examine the contributions of women from Western New York to the legal heritage of the region and the nation.

Attendees will learn about the life and work of these pioneering women:

  • Belva B. Lockwood, the first woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, presented by Hon. Erin M. Peradotto of the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial District.
  • Kate Stoneman, the first woman admitted to practice in New York, presented by Michelle Henry, Chautauqua County historian.
  • Helen Z.M. Rodgers, the first female graduate of the Buffalo Law School, presented by Bernadette Gargano, a research and writing lecturer at the Law School.
  • Charlotte Smallwood-Cook, who as Wyoming County district attorney from 1950 to 1953 was the first female district attorney in New York, presented by Michael B. Powers, a Phillips Lytle partner and Clarence town justice.
  • Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress; Chisholm represented New York’s 12th District from 1969 to 1983, presented by Rep. Brian Higgins.

Giving remarks will be Hon. Eugene F. Pigott Jr. '73 of the state Court of Appeals; Hon. Paula L. Feroleto '82, administrative judge for the 8th Judicial District; and Professor James A. Gardner, the Law School’s interim dean. The program will be moderated by Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt, a former state Court of Appeals judge who serves as president of the Historical Society of the New York Courts.

A display created by the state Bar Association’s Committee on Women in the Law will highlighting 10 women lawyers who made significant contributions in the legal profession after overcoming gender barriers and, in some cases, racial discrimination, paving the way for generations of women attorneys.