Barbara D. Underwood

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Barbara Underwood
Solicitor General of New York
Assumed office
January 1, 2007
Governor Eliot Spitzer
David Paterson
Andrew Cuomo
Preceded by Caitlin Halligan
Solicitor General of the United States
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 11, 2001
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Seth P. Waxman
Succeeded by Theodore Olson
Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States
In office
March 23, 1998 – January 20, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by ???
Succeeded by Paul Clement
Personal details
Born (1944-08-16) August 16, 1944 (age 72)
Evansville, Indiana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Harvard University (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)

Barbara D. Underwood (born August 16, 1944) is the Solicitor General of New York. She was initially appointed to her position by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in January 2007, and reappointed in 2011 by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Early life[edit]

Underwood was born in Evansville, Indiana, to Dr. Robert Underwood and Mildred Underwood. She grew up in Belleville, New Jersey, and is the eldest of three daughters.[1] Underwood earned an A.B magna cum laude from Radcliffe College of Harvard University in 1966 and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1969.

Legal career[edit]

After graduation, Underwood clerked for Chief Judge David L. Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and then Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court.[2] After leaving the court, Underwood was a law professor for 10 years at the Yale Law School. She also has taught at Brooklyn Law School and at New York University School of Law.

After becoming the first woman to receive tenure at Yale, she left academia to work in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.[1] Underwood later served in the District Attorneys for three different counties in New York City: she was an Assistant District Attorney in New York County, Chief of Appeals and Counsel to the District Attorney in Kings County (Brooklyn), and Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney for Legal Affairs in Queens County. She then served as Chief Assistant United States Attorney and later Counsel to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.[3]

In 1998, Underwood was appointed by United States Attorney General Janet Reno to be Principal Deputy Solicitor General under Solicitor General Seth P. Waxman.[1] Underwood held that position for three years, and then served as Acting Solicitor General from January to June 2001, making her the first woman to act as Solicitor General.[4] After returning to the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York for several years, she was appointed in 2007 to her current position as Solicitor General of the State of New York, a position she has held under two state Attorneys General.

She has argued twenty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and many cases before the federal and state appellate courts.

In 2012 the American Inns of Court presented her with its Professionalism Award for the Second Circuit, honoring her mentorship of attorneys throughout her career.


Underwood has lived in New York City since 1982. She is married to Martin Halpern, former Brandeis University professor of playwriting and dramatic literature.[1] They live in Brooklyn and have one son, Robert, born in 1986.[1] Underwood had one previous marriage which ended in divorce.[1]

Underwood is the cousin of actress Betty Aberlin, best known for playing Lady Aberlin on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hoffman, Jan (1998-04-09). "PUBLIC LIVES; Smart Lawyer for a Rich, Querulous Uncle". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  2. ^ "Senior Staff |". Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  3. ^ "Here's Attorney General-Elect Eric Schneiderman's First Round Of Appointments". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  4. ^ Groll, Elias J.; Jiang, Athena Y. (January 5, 2009). "Obama Names Law School Dean Solicitor General". Retrieved 2017-02-09. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seth P. Waxman
Solicitor General of the United States

Succeeded by
Theodore Olson