Here’s To You, Pamela Shelinsky

Pamela Stacey Shelinsky earned her J.D. from Cornell Law School in 2005.  After graduation, she worked as an associate at Carter Ledyard & Milburn until her untimely death from cancer on September 26, 2011.  Ms. Shelinsky leaves behind her devoted family: father, Mark, brother, Jason, and Cavalier King-Charles Spaniel, Austin (who often kept Ms. Shelinksy company in the law firm offices).

At Cornell, Ms. Shelinsky was an excellent student who served first as an Associate and later as an Article Editor on the Journal of Law and Public Policy.  Her best friend, Stacey Kessler, remarked that Ms. Shelinsky won an award for achieving the highest grade in a course on youth advocacy.

Ms. Kessler, who described Ms. Shelinsky as someone “full of love, loyalty, and humor,” was so close with Ms. Shelinsky that they considered themselves sisters from their first meeting in high school biology.  Ms. Kessler fondly reminisced about the habit she and Ms. Shelinsky had of collapsing on the floor laughing. Even when others may have considered them crazy for their optimism, the two always tried to find the humor in life’s roughest patches.  At their summer camp, Ms. Kessler and Ms. Shelinsky discovered a water pipe and followed it all the way down the mountain, reasoning that the pipe was bringing water to the camp because there were no other facilities nearby.  They were the only pair to make it down unaided.  Ms. Shelinsky, must have been resourceful and pragmatic, in addition to having a sense of humor and adventure.

At Carter Ledyard & Milburn, she focused on intellectual property, condemnation, and real estate litigation.  Ms. Susan Kalib, a fellow attorney at Carter Ledyard, remembered that Ms. Shelinsky had a “flair for the dramatic” as well—she frequently updated the other associates on her latest exploits as a flyer in her trapeze class.  She was praised by clients, other associates and partners for her tireless work ethic, attention to detail, and fierce litigation strategies.  Another fellow attorney, Rose Auslander, describes hiring Ms. Shelinsky as akin to “hiring a comet,” knowing that the young attorney would go far.

Outside the office, Ms. Auslander and Diane Melnick, Ms. Shelinsky’s office neighbor, remember Ms. Shelinsky as a fascinating, multi-talented woman.  She was an excellent painter, a SCUBA instructor, and a world traveler who wove stories of her visits to South Africa, Bhutan, Thailand, Spain, New Orleans, and the Caribbean.  She had written scripts for MTV and rescued baby turtles; she was an avid art collector and member of MoMA. Ms. Auslander spoke of how Ms. Shelinsky always dressed in “the coolest fashions” with her high ponytail and “slicked back hair,” and how Ms. Shelinsky was really revitalizing the often drab and dreary practice of law.  Ms. Melnick will always miss the “big sister-little sister” dynamic she shared with Ms. Shelinsky. Ms. Shelinsky “had so much wisdom and confidence,” she recalled, “that she probably gave me more advice than I gave her.”

As a final note: one of the unexpected benefits of our new law journal blog is our greater online presence, allowing past members and others who would otherwise not have made the connection to contact the current staff.  In response, current members share the privilege of honoring past members such as Ms. Shelinsky.  Much journal work—and a lot of work in life for that matter—is thankless.  Article Editors (AEs) on JLPP, for example, have tremendous responsibility but are rarely acknowledged.  AEs are responsible for reviewing Associates’ sourcing and proving on articles; they compile and check all of the Associates’ work, score the Associates’ work, and send a rough draft of the article to the Managing Editor (ME) responsible for the article.  As current ME Ria Dutta said: “They are the first set of eyes on the entire article.  I know that I have found that the work done by AEs is essential to my work as an ME and the quality of their revisions will in many cases determine the quality of the final, published article.  AE feedback both helps Associates improve their revisions from article to article and their comments can be significant during elections.”

Here are some of the pieces Ms. Shelinsky edited as an AE for JLPP.  While of course we cannot pay individual tribute to every former member of the journal who has passed away, hopefully this will serve as a humble homage to others as well—those who have passed away too young, and also those on the journal past and present, who do tremendous amounts of work for little reward or recognition.