Women in Leadership Roles
A successful former prosecutor, Linda Fairstein draws from her experiences to highlight the challenges and opportunities facing women in leadership roles in the 21st century. Sharing anecdotes from inside the New York Justice Department, Ms. Fairstein inspires audiences to face challenges head on and break through the glass ceiling.
Justice for Special Victims
America’s foremost expert on crimes against special victims, Linda Fairstein brings her three decades of legal experience to the issues of economic and social empowerment for those most disenfranchised by our society.
Linda Fairstein, lawyer, former prosecutor, and best-selling crime novelist, is one of America’s foremost legal experts on crimes of violence against women and children.
Ms. Fairstein is the author of an internationally best-selling series of crime novels (translated into more than a dozen languages) which feature Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra Cooper. The sixteenth in the series – Terminal City – was released in June 2014, published by Dutton.
She is also the author of a non-fiction work, Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She is a regular contributor on criminal justice issues to magazines, journals, and on-line publications like The Daily Beast.
For three decades, from 1972 until 2002, she served in the office of the New York County District Attorney, where she was Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit for twenty-six years. In that position, Fairstein supervised the investigation and trial of Manhattan cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and homicides arising out of those crimes. She was the lead attorney in the homicide prosecution of Robert Chambers (the “Preppy Murder” case) in 1988, and directed major litigation in these specialties, including the trial against the offenders charged with the riot in Central Park following the Puerto Rican Day parade in June, 2000.
In that position, in charge of the country’s pioneering special victims’ unit, Fairstein was responsible for creating many of the techniques that have revolutionized the prosecution of these crimes. She was one of the first prosecutors in America to work with DNA (1986), introduced the use of John Doe DNA indictments, created the first ‘cold case DNA unit,’ worked with NYC’s mayor to resolve the backlog of rape evidence collection kits in 1999, and drafted and lobbied legislation for a variety of laws which have improved the ability to allow victims of sex offenses to triumph in the courtroom.
Fairstein is an honors graduate of Vassar College (1969) and the University of Virginia School of Law (1972). In 1998, Fairstein’s law school classmates established a scholarship fund in her honor at their alma mater. The Fairstein Public Service Scholarship supports law school students interested in pursuing careers in the public sector.
She has received numerous awards for her legal work and advocacy, and in many instances, was the first woman to be so honored. These include the Federal Bar Council’s Emory Buckner Award for Public Service and the UJA Federation’s Proskauer Award. For her pioneering work on behalf of victims of violence, she has received Columbia University’s School of Medicine and School of Nursing Award for Excellence; the Anti-Violence Project “Courage” Award; Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year Award; the American Heart Association Women of Courage award, and scores of similar honors. In 2010, Fairstein was awarded the New York Women’s Agenda Lifetime Achievement Award for her domestic violence work, and the Silver Bullet Award of the International Thriller Writers.
Fairstein is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the International Society of Barristers.
Fairstein serves on a number of non-profit boards. She is a trustee of Vassar College; and a founding member of the Joyful Heart Foundation (Mariska Hargitay of Law/Order: SVU’s charity to aid victims of sexual assault, where she co-chairs the national project to end the rape evidence collection kit backlog); Safe Horizon (the country’s largest victim advocacy organization); God’s Love We Deliver (which feeds terminally ill New Yorkers; and is the board chair emeritus of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine.