Pace Law School’s Alumni Leadership Awards Dinner Honors: Michael C. Finnegan, Esq. ’87 and The Honorable Sondra Miller

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Pace Law School will host its Eighth Annual Alumni Leadership Awards Dinner at the Rye Town Hilton in Rye Brook, New York on October 24th.  The Distinguished Service Award will be presented to two outstanding individuals: Michael C. Finnegan, Esq. ’87 and The Honorable Sondra Miller.

The two honorees have greatly contributed to the legal profession and the community.  Michael C. Finnegan is a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. in New York specializing in Environmental Finance.  Prior to joining Morgan, Mr. Finnegan served three years as Chief Counsel to Governor George Pataki of New York where he was responsible for all legislative, legal, and policy matters.  He was the first appointment to the new Administration and, at midnight on January 1, 1995, swore in George Pataki as the 57th Governor of New York.  During his first year as Counsel to the Governor, Mr. Finnegan successfully negotiated the landmark New York City Watershed Agreement which safeguarded the drinking water of nine million New Yorkers ending a bitter conflict which had divided New Yorkers for more than two generations.  Mr. Finnegan also negotiated a historic Adirondack timber agreement between lumber interests and environmentalists, and in 1996 conceived and negotiated Governor Pataki’s $1.75 billion Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act legislation. He later served as Chairman of the committee which won overwhelming approval of the Bond Act from New York voters. While serving as Counsel to the Governor, he also drafted and negotiated other landmark initiatives including the State Income Tax Cut legislation, the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act, the Farmland Preservation Act, and the Deadbeat Dads statute.

Justice Sondra Miller was appointed to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Department by Governor Mario Cuomo in January 1990. She was then serving as a New York State Supreme Court Judge of the Ninth Judicial District, having been elected in 1986, and had served as a Family Court Judge in Westchester County from 1983-1986.  Among Justice Miller’s “firsts” are her law degree from Harvard Law School (she was in its first class to admit women); her election to the Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District in November 1986 (the first Democrat to win a contested election in the 9th JD in nearly 100 years); and her appointment as Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department, in January 1990 (the first woman in the 9th JD to be so recognized).  Justice Miller’s legal decisions are frequently cited in various areas of the law and most particularly for their impact on family law and the rights of children. She serves by appointment of Chief Judge Judith Kaye as Co-Chair with Justice Anthony Cardona of the New York State Family Violence Task Force.  In addition, she serves by appointment of the Governor on the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children.  She is a founding member, former Co-President, and member of the Board of Directors of Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA), and a founding member of Blacks and Jews in Conversation. Justice Miller serves on the Board of Visitors of Pace University School of Law; is a member of the Executive Board of the UJA Federation Benjamin N. Cardozo Society; a member of the Advisory Board of The Center for Children, Families and Law at Hofstra University School of Law/North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System; and a member of the permanent committee of Parent Education Advisory Board. She is also a former Director of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and former Vice President of the Harvard Law School.

Founded in 1976, Pace Law School is located in White Plains, N.Y., 20 miles north of New York City. The School offers the J.D. program for full-time, and part-time day, and evening students. Its post-graduate program includes the LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees in Environmental Law and the LL.M. in Comparative Legal Studies. Pace has one of the nation’s top-rated environmental law programs and its Clinical Education Program also is nationally ranked, offering clinics in domestic violence prosecution, securities arbitration, criminal justice, and disability rights.

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