The National Lawyers Guild mourns the passing of its former president, Debra Evenson. One of the nation’s foremost authorities on the legal system and institutions of Cuba, Ms. Evenson was Of Counsel with the law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C.
“For 20 years, Debra was key to our legal defense of Cuban sovereignty,” said Michael Krinsky, a partner at Rabinowitz Boudin. “That so many in Havana, and such a diverse group of people – high government officials and ordinary workers, intellectuals and artists, academics and lawyers – deeply mourn her passing as a personal loss is testament to Debra’s great integrity, contributions, and humanity,” he continued.
During the McCarthy era, Guild membership dwindled to a few hundred. Ms Evenson was part of the generation of young lawyers and law students that revived it in the late 60s and early 70s, combining political passion to combat injustice and exploitation with outstanding legal skills. She spent much of her life as a professor, teaching later generations both skill and passion.
Debra Evenson was co-founder and executive director of the Center for Inter-American Legal Education, a U.S. not-for-profit educational foundation dedicated to educational exchanges between U.S. lawyers and legal scholars and their counterparts in Latin America. She was involved in the founding of the Sugar Law Center in Detroit and served on its board of directors. For the last three years, she taught a course on the Cuban legal system at Rutgers University Law School-Camden. She was Associate Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law from 1980 to 1992 where she taught Intellectual Property and Comparative International Law. Prior to joining the faculty at DePaul, she was an associate in the litigation department of Wilkie, Farr and Gallagher (1976-1979). She graduated from Rutgers Law School in 1976, and from Barnard College in 1964.
From 1996-2001, Ms. Evenson was president of the Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services (ILSA) headquartered in Bogota, Columbia. During her tenure as president, ILSA organized important conferences related to legal services and human rights in Latin America, Asia and Africa and expanded its collaboration with human rights lawyers in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean. Ms. Evenson was president of the National Lawyers Guild from 1988-1991.
“Our loss is immeasurable but we take comfort in knowing that she left behind so many others to carry on her mission,” said David Gespass, President of the National Lawyers Guild.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.