Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam
“My CLEO fellowship was immensely helpful during my first year of law school. It gave me the leg up academically and financially that launched a very successful legal career that has culminated in my being the first black woman to serve on New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Thank you CLEO!”
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam is an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals. She was appointed to this position by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and confirmed by the State Senate on May 6, 2013. Before her appointment to the Court of Appeals, Judge Abdus-Salaam served for four years as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department. She had been appointed to that position by Governor David A. Paterson on March 25, 2009.
Before her appointment to the Appellate Division, Justice Abdus-Salaam had been a trial justice in Manhattan, where she was twice elected to the New York State Supreme Court in 1993 and again in 2007. Prior to her election to Supreme Court, she was a Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York for two years. Until December 1991, she was for three and a half years the General Counsel of the New York City Division of Labor Services, the City’s contract compliance agency. From 1980 to 1988, she was an Assistant Attorney General in the New York State Attorney General’s Civil Rights and Real Estate Financing Bureaus. Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, she worked for three years as a staff lawyer for Brooklyn Legal Services, Corporation A.
Judge Abdus-Salaam is a member of the Unified Court System’s E-Discovery Working Group and was a member of the Pattern Jury Instructions Committee until her appointment to the Court of Appeals. She serves on the Boards of Contemporary Guidance Services, Inc., and Respect for Law Alliance and is a Vice President of the Columbia Law School Board of Visitors. Judge Abdus-Salaam is Chair Emerita of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation. She previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Harlem Legal Services, and is a former President of the New York City Chapter of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Lawyers Guild New York City Chapter.
After graduation from Barnard College in 1974, Judge Abdus-Salaam received a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 1977, where she was a Charles Evans Hughes Fellow. She is admitted to several state and federal bars. She is also a member of several bar and professional associations.