Practice Areas
Juris Doctor, 1973
University of Chicago Law School
Chicago, IL
Bachelor of Arts, 1970
Oberlin College
Oberlin, OH
Bar Admissions
Federal Courts
U.S. Supreme Court, 1987
U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, 2002
U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, 1975
U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, 1999
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 1974
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, 1974
State Courts
State of New York, 1974
Carolyn A. Kubitschek

Carolyn has been practicing law for more than 35 years, concentrating on family law, child welfare, children’s rights, Social Security, and appellate work. Carolyn has written and published extensively on civil rights and Social Security law, and has lectured around the world on family and child welfare law.

Legal Career
Carolyn began her career in 1973 at MFY Legal Services, Inc., providing free legal assistance and representation to indigent New Yorkers with civil legal problems. In 1983, while at MFY, she started the first Disability Advocacy Program in New York State. Funded with a grant from the City of New York, the program provided representation for hundreds of disabled New Yorkers who had been wrongfully denied Social Security benefits. The program was so successful that the State legislature took over the program and expanded it to a state-wide program.

From 1985 to 1990, Carolyn was on the faculty at Hofstra Law School, teaching the federal litigation clinic and serving as managing attorney of Neighborhood Legal Services, the law school’s law office. Under Carolyn’s supervision, her students represented clients in federal court, handling civil rights and employment discrimination cases, Social Security appeals, and other civil matters.

From 1990 to 1991, Carolyn was the Coordinator of Family Law for Legal Services for New York (LSNY), providing advice, technical assistance, back-up, and co-counseling for legal services attorneys throughout New York City in handling family matters.

In January, 1991, Carolyn and David Lansner started the firm of Lansner & Kubitschek. She continues to focus on family law, civil rights, children’s rights, Social Security law, and appellate work.

Since 2003, Carolyn has served as an adjunct professor at Cardozo Law School, where she teaches a seminar and directs an internship on child welfare law.

In 2010, Carolyn was elected an at-large Director of the National Association of Social Security Claimants' Representatives.

Significant Decisions in Child Welfare and Civil Rights Law
Carolyn’s career in family law has included a series of “firsts.” In 1981, Carolyn filed the first case which established the constitutional right of a foster child to be protected from child abuse in a foster home, setting a precedent which has been adopted by eight of the twelve federal courts of appeals. Doe v. New York City Department of Social Services, 649 F.2d 134 (2d Cir. 1981), cert. den. 404 U.S. 864 (1983)

In 1983, the New York Court of Appeals ruled, in one of Carolyn’s cases, that when the government seeks to free children for adoption on the grounds that their parents are mentally ill, the parents have a right to bring their attorneys with them to court-ordered psychiatric evaluations. Matter of Guardianship and Custody of Alexander L. 60 N.Y.2d 329, 469 N.Y.S.2d 626 (1983)

In a major expansion of the right to reputation, the court held that the operation of the Department of Social Services' State Central Register was unconstitutional. The Register is a list of all parents suspected of abusing or neglecting their children, and any person whose name is on the list is effectively banned from working with children. The court found the system to be unacceptable due to the low level of evidence required to place a name on the register and the lack of a hearing. Valmonte v. Bane, 18 F.3d 992 (2d Cir. 1994)

Carolyn has published extensively in civil rights law, Social Security law, and family law. Her book, Social Security Disability Law and Procedure in Federal Court, published by Thomson-Reuters, is now in its third edition. Federal judges have quoted the book repeatedly in their decisions in Social Security cases.

Carolyn has lectured on the rights of children, on family law, and on domestic violence law throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe, and Australia. She has lectured on Social Security law throughout the United States.

Carolyn was selected by her peers as a Superlawyer in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, an honor afforded to the top five percent of attorneys in New York City.

In May, 2002, Carolyn and David Lansner received the Access to Justice Award, presented by the Jacob Burns Ethics Center of the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law.

In February, 2002, Carolyn was a recipient of the Peace at Home Award, presented by the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

In May, 2000, Carolyn received the Women of Power and Influence Award from the National Organization for Women, New York City Chapter.


“Relatives’ rights to care for children,” Trial, December, 2006, p. 20 (with Darius Charney)

“Holding Foster Care Agencies Responsible for Abuse and Neglect,” Human Rights (ABA), Winter, 2005, p. 6

“Justice for Abused Foster Children,” Trial, October, 2003, p. 44

“Social Security Disability Cases," in General Practice in New York (West, 1998)

Social Security Disability Law and Procedure in Federal Court, (West, 1994)

Social Security Disability Law and Procedure in Federal Court, (second edition) (Thomson Reuters, 2008)

Social Security Disability Law and Procedure in Federal Court, (third edition) (Thomson Reuters, 2009)

"Adoption," "Child Custody," "International Custody Disputes, and "Child Support" chapters in New York Practice Guide: Domestic Relations, (Matthew Bender 1995)

"Interstate and International Custody Disputes," Chs. 45-46, New York Civil Practice: Matrimonial Actions, (Matthew Bender & Co., 1995)

"Social Worker Malpractice in Failing to Protect Foster Children," 41 Am Jur Trials 1 (1990)

"Representation of Respondents in Child Protective Proceedings," in New York Practice Guide: Domestic Relations (Matthew Bender & Co., 1990)

“Social Security Administration Nonacquiescence: The Need for Legislative Curbs on Agency Discretion," 50 Pittsburgh L. Rev. 399 (1989)

"A Re-evaluation of Mathews v. Eldridge in Light of Administrative Shortcomings and Nonacquiescence," 31 Ariz. L. Rev. 53 (1989)

"Child Protective Proceedings," Chs. 30-33, 12A New York Civil Practice (Matthew Bender, 1988)

"Paternity Orders and Appeals," 12 New York Civil Practice (Matthew Bender, 1985)

"New Rules for Process, Intervention in Child Protective Proceedings, " New York Law Journal, March 23, 1987, p. 1 (with David J. Lansner)

"Restoration of Federal benefits to Disabled New Yorkers," New York Law Journal, March 14, 1985, p. 1

Keynote speaker, “In the Best Interests? Exploring Responses to Domestic Violence and Child Protection – A Way Forward,” May 17-18, 2005, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Featured Speaker, “Child Abuse and Domestic Violence,” May 20, 2005, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Speaker, “Legal Challenges to State Policies of Charging Battered Mothers with Child Neglect,” Conference of the National Association of Attorneys General, Washington, D.C., 2002

Panelist, “Battered Women's Litigation Against Child Protective Services: Problems in Putting Feminist Legal Theory into Practice,” Buffalo Law School, 2002

"Remedies for Children Abused in Foster Care," American Bar Association Conference on Children and the Law, Washington, 1992.

"Preventive Services," Child Welfare League of America Conference, New York City, 1989.

"Legal Issues in Preventive Services Programs," Fifth International Conference on Child Abuse, Montreal, 1984.

"Liability of Foster Care Agencies for Child Abuse of Children in Their Care," Fourth International Conference on Child Abuse, Paris, 1982.

"Parents' Attorneys: The Forgotten Members of the Child Abuse Team," Fifth National Conference on Child Abuse, Milwaukee, 1981.

Professional Associations and Memberships
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
Vice-President, 2004 – Present
New York County Lawyers' Association
Member, Federal Courts Committee and Pro Bono Committee
Family Defense Center; Chicago, IL
Member, Advisory Committee, 2006 – Present
The HOPE Program
Member, Business Advisory Council, 2006 – Present
American Association for Justice
Federal Bar Council
New York State Task Force on Permanency Planning
Member, Subcommittee on Preventive Services, 1986 – 1993
Kings County Democratic Committee
Member, Judicial Screening Panel, 1987 – 1989
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and United States District Court, Eastern District
Member, Pro Bono Panels, 1985 – Present
Representative Cases
Camreta v. Greene, 131 S.Ct. 2020 (Supreme Court of the United States 2011)
Pollard v. Halter, 377 F.3d 183 (2d Cir. 2004)
Nicholson v. Scoppetta, 344 F.3d 154 (2d Cir. 2003)
Miller v. Gammie, 335 F.3d 889 (9th Cir. 2003)
Tenenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581 (2d Cir. 1999)
Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496 (2d Cir. 1998)
Valmonte v. Bane, 18 F.3d 992 (2d Cir. 1994)
Cruz v. Sullivan, 912 F.2d 8 (2d Cir. 1990)
Doe v. DSS, 649 F.2d 134 (2d Cir. 1981)
Thomas v. City of New York, 814 F.Supp. 1139 (S.D.N.Y. 1992)
Matter of Alexander L., 60 N.Y.2d 329, 469 N.Y.S.2d 626 ( 1983)
Tarrant v. Turner, 270 A.D.2d 172, 704 N.Y.S.2d 595 (1st Dept. 2000)
Italian, German