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Billing their new partnership as the first New York law firm to focus on women’s health and safety, two of the city’s best-known advocates for women’s rights have joined forces. Lenore Kramer, a former president of the state Women’s Bar Association, and Denise M. Dunleavy have announced the creation of Kramer & Dunleavy. The firm will be located in downtown Manhattan. “The community of women lawyers at this level of experience is pretty small so we’ve known each other a long time,” said Kramer. “[Dunleavy] and I both share certain ideas about women’s issues in the tort field.” According to Kramer, while the firm will handle all areas of tort law, the two attorneys will concentrate on cases involving women who were victimized by sex crimes and assaults that could have been prevented but for negligent security measures. The firm also will concentrate on cases involving negligence in women’s health care. “Women plaintiffs many times have issues that are gender specific and sensitive and they often seem more comfortable discussing them with a woman lawyer,” said Dunleavy. “All too often it is the male professional who is not listening to the woman. One of the goals of a women’s-based health firm is that we will heed those complaints whatever injury a woman suffers.” CREDIBILITY ISSUES Appellate Division, 1st Department, Justice Betty Weinberg Ellerin, chair of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts, agreed that women are still being treated differently in the court system. “There are still many areas where problems exist,” said Ellerin, whose committee recently released a report detailing gender inequalities in the courts. “One of those is the credibility gap. The credibility of women is viewed with more skepticism. Particularly in these kinds of sensitive cases.” Other attorneys also noted that a firm run by women might be easier for female clients to approach, even if just providing the opportunity for a woman who was injured to voice her complaint to a sympathetic ear. “Any law firm that is sensitive to women’s issues as a whole would benefit the whole community as well as the legal profession,” said Lorraine Power Tharp, president of the New York State Bar Association. “Maybe there will be issues that are right for litigation, but it seems to me that this firm will also be a resource for potential clients and the public.” In addition to her work for the state Women’s Bar Association, Kramer, 51, has served as president of the state Trial Lawyers Association, the Bronx County Bar Association and the Metropolitan Women’s Bar Association. She began her legal career in 1977 as an associate at a Bronx firm that was named Copland, Tillem & Kramer following her promotion to partner in 1981. Kramer most recently was a partner at Kramer & Devries in Manhattan. A TOP LITIGATOR Dunleavy, 52, formerly of Manhattan’s Weitz & Luxenberg, has been named one of the top 50 female litigators in the country by The National Law Journal, an affiliate of the New York Law Journal and law.com. She has won awards in the types of cases Kramer & Dunleavy intend to make their standard. Last year, she obtained a $2.5 million jury verdict against a Washington Heights landlord, Champ Broadway Co., for a woman who had been raped in its apartment building. In 1991, Dunleavy obtained a verdict of $4.5 million against the manufacturer of a silicone breast implant covered with polyurethane foam, which she proved released a carcinogenic chemical. The case, Livshits v. Natural Y Surgical Specialties Inc., is considered the first to prove that breast cancer may result from a polyurethane coating.

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