George Pataki (New York) has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award by the New York Law Journal. As a former New York State Governor, Pataki has impacted the legal community and the practice of law significantly.
Pataki was selected based on many major accomplishments throughout his career, which includes a half century as a lawyer and a quarter century in politics. In 1994, Pataki won the race for New York governor and went on to serve three terms with a platform that was tough on crime and federal spending. He was at the helm during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the turmoil that followed, and he played a significant role in the redevelopment of the original World Trade Center site and the building of the 9/11 Memorial.
During his tenure as New York’s chief executive, Pataki also advanced award-winning, cutting-edge policies in the renewable energy and environmental fields. His initiatives included the protection of over one million acres of open space, the adoption of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the implementation of the nation’s first green building tax credit, landmark brownfield legislation and programs to enhance the production and use of alternative energy like biodiesel, ethanol and fuel cells. He also championed several initiatives related to cleaning up the Hudson River and created over 60 new State Parks including the Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s west side.
After completing his third term as governor, Pataki joined law firm Chadbourne & Parke, which merged with Norton Rose Fulbright in 2017. He has simultaneously continued his political and public service work particularly as the co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Task Force on Climate Change recommending the overhaul of US energy and foreign policy and proposing a US negotiating strategy for a global climate accord and as Co-Chair of the Alliance to Save Energy’s National Energy efficiency Task Force.
Pataki has also been active in the Human Rights field serving as the US Public Delegate to the 62nd United Nations General Assembly in 2007, and the head of the US Delegation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in Budapest. He also served as chair of the US Delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe conference on anti-Semitism.
In recognition of his lifetime of achievements, Pataki was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is bestowed on Americans who have made significant contributions to the United States while acknowledging their ethnic heritage. He was also awarded the Yale Medal—the highest award presented by the university’s Alumni Association.
Pataki is one of nine esteemed winners recognized in the New York Law Journal’s upcoming Professional Excellence magazine and will be honored Oct. 13 at the New York Legal Awards in New York City.