College of Law graduate Maya M. Eckstein ’95 named American Inns of Court Sandra Day O’Connor Award recipient
College of Law graduate Maya M. Eckstein ’95 named American Inns of Court Sandra Day O’Connor Award recipientNovember 11, 2003Nicci Brownnicbrown@syr.edu
Maya M. Eckstein, a 1995 graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and a member of the SU Law Alumni Association, received the third annual 2003 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service at the annual American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence, held at the U.S. Supreme Court on October 11, 2003. Justice Anthony Kennedy hosted this year’s events. The national award recognizes Eckstein’s outstanding work in public service, pro bono and community service on behalf of indigent persons. Eckstein, who is employed by Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Va., was nominated for the award by the John Marshall American Inn of Court.
“This is a fine endorsement of Maya’s superb career, and Hunton & Williams is elated by the news of the award,” says George Hettrick, chair of the firm’s Community Service Committee. “I can think of no other lawyer more deserving.”
The Sandra Day O’Connor Award was established by the Board of Trustees of the American Inns of Court Foundation as a national award to recognize an Inn member in practice for 10 or fewer years for excellence in public interest or pro bono activities. The award is named in honor of Justice O’Connor, a long-time supporter of the American Inns of Court and a paragon of professional service throughout her distinguished career. O’Connor is widely recognized for her legal excellence, civility, ethics and professionalism.
Devoting countless hours and her tireless energy to serving the community, Eckstein is a member of the Hunton & Williams Community Service Committee. She gives time to many volunteer projects, including the Women’s Advocacy Project, a Hunton & Williams partnership program that provides legal representation to victims of domestic violence. The program serves the Richmond YWCA Shelter, the Emergency Shelter, the Safe Harbor Shelter and Central Virginia Legal Aid.
“It’s a responsibility,” says Eckstein. Referring to members of her family lost to the Holocaust, she explains, “My life has to mean something to justify and to honor their sacrifices. I couldn’t go through life not doing anything and justify my existence.”
Eckstein has worked with the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference Pro Bono Committee over the years on many projects. She spearheaded its Virginia Domestic Violence Safety Project and developed the Crime Victim Compensation Program. For her services in these efforts, Eckstein was recognized as the 1999 R. Edwin Burnette, Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year by the Young Lawyers Conference of the Virginia State Bar and received its 2000 and 2003 Service Awards. For the past few years, Eckstein has volunteered her efforts in aid of the Virginia Wills for Heroes Program, developed by the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference and other organizations.
In 2002, Eckstein was named to the Top 40 Under 40 list by Inside Business magazine, recognition annually given to Richmonders under the age of 40 who have provided significant contributions to various fields.
A graduate of Kent State University, Eckstein was Order of the Coif and Associate Notes and Comments Editor of the Syracuse Law Review at the College of Law. Before her 1997 arrival at Hunton & Williams, she served as a “pool clerk” for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In 2001, Eckstein took a sabbatical from Hunton & Williams to serve a one-year clerkship with the Honorable Roger L. Gregory, the first permanent African-American judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Eckstein serves on the board of directors of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and the Flagler Home at Saint Joseph’s Villa, a two-year transitional housing program for homeless women and their children. She is an active member of the Virginia State Bar Access to Legal Services Committee and a member of the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference Board of Governors.