October 19, 2018

New York lawyer and pro bono advocate Mary Eaton to receive Stonewall Award

CHICAGO, Oct. 19, 2018 — The American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity will honor pro bono advocate Mary Eaton with its Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Jan. 26, 2019, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas.

Eaton, a partner at Willkie, Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York, has combined her litigation practice with extensive pro bono work on behalf of LGBT clients. She led a team of lawyers who sued the New York State Department of Health on behalf of a class of transgender Medicaid recipients and successfully forced the department in 2016 to change a regulation that barred Medicaid coverage for transgender-related healthcare.

In addition, Eaton drafted an amicus curie brief on behalf of 92 plaintiffs represented by Willkie attorneys in the U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges case. The amici included veterans, medical professionals and stay-at-home parents who had challenged the constitutionality of marriage bans of same-sex couples imposed by the 15 states in which they resided.

In 2017, Willkie lawyers led by Eaton filed an amicus brief before the Supreme Court on behalf of various national education groups in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., challenging a Virginia public school district’s policy prohibiting transgender students from using the restroom conforming to their gender identity.

Eaton has been recognized for her pro bono service by the Legal Aid Society with their Pro Bono Publico Award six times. She was selected by the New York Law Journal as a 2015 honoree for its “Lawyers Who Lead by Example” award in the pro bono category, received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the Federal Bar Council, was named Outstanding Pro Bono Volunteer by the New York State Bar Association and was given the Attorneys And Advocates Award by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

A graduate of Columbia Law School, she began her career at Cravath, Swaine & Moore before joining Willkie in 2002.

“Mary has been a true champion and has gone beyond the call of duty to ensure that the rights of many of the most vulnerable members of our community whose rights and freedoms were compromised had an attorney who fought to protect them,” said Victor M. Marquez, chair of the ABA SOGI Commission. “Her effective and precedent-setting advocacy is to be applauded.  We need more lawyers like Mary to step out of their comfort zone in private practice and champion our causes. Mary, we salute you for your exemplary leadership!”

You can find a photo of Eaton here.

The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity leads the ABA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ABA, the legal profession and society. Created in 2007, the commission seeks to secure equal treatment in the ABA, the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

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