Page 142 July 30, 2021 DAN’S PAPERS danspapers.com
A Pioneer for Women’s Rights:
Legendary Lawyer Sybil Shainwald and Her
Love of the Law and the Hamptons
BY TODD SHAPIRO
Many high-profile advocates for
women’s rights in recent years
have used their social media platforms
to spur a movement decrying
sexism, violence and discrimination
that has resulted in proper social
awareness. But there are pioneers of
women’s rights who had blazed that
trail and fought for women’s rights
long before it was socially accepted.
Legendary women’s health lawyer
Sybil Shainwald has been celebrated
repeatedly, and her accomplishments
have made an indelible mark in the
world of women’s health rights. It was
a long road for Shainwald. She began
her career when it wasn’t popular for
women to be in the legal field. As a
result, she was discriminated against,
including not being admitted to Columbia
School of Law because of her
“I was a history major but wanted to
take law classes,” remembers Shainwald.
“But I wasn’t the right gender.”
But Shainwald has always been
tenacious, and she forged ahead and
completed law school in her 40s.
“They wound up giving me a big
award eventually,” Shainwald says
with a laugh.
Shainwald spoke to us from her
home in Southampton. A lifelong
resident of New York City, she has
been coming to the East End since
the 1970s. “My husband used to say,
when we turned into our driveway,
‘Welcome to paradise.’”
Although her husband, accountant
to the stars Sidney Shainwald passed
away in 2003, Shainwald has continued
to come to Southampton. It has
always been a perfect respite from the
intensely personal and essential legal
work she performed for many years.
In her first position, she was the
only female lawyer. Her work was
limited to cases with women, and she
began to do a lot of research on diethylstilbestrol
(DES), a synthetic, nonsteroidal
form of estrogen that caused
health issues in many women.
In her first case, her client was offered
$100,000 to settle.
“She was young, and she needed the
money, and that was a lot of money,”
says Shainwald. “But she trusted me,
and we let a jury decide—and she was
awarded $500,000. But it was more
than a financial victory. It was a victory
Now, close to 50 years later, Shainwald
is still in regular contact with
“She’s an amazing woman,” Shainwald
She began to gain a reputation as a
champion for women in cases against
pharmaceutical companies, eventually
representing women from Nairobi,
Kenya, England, Holland and
the United States.
One of her most significant success
stories was the Revival Statute,
which addressed the statute of
limitations on the filing of civil cases.
It was a watershed decision that
took years of court and legislative
Shainwald is no stranger to the
spotlight, either. She has appeared
on every major TV network and has
been quoted as an expert in publications
and other media worldwide.
She has frequently lectured
throughout her career on obstetrical
malpractice, IUDs, unnecessary hysterectomies,
hormone therapy and
products liability litigation.
She is also a voracious reader and
has authored many papers and essays
related to her experience and
her profession. Shainwald loves the
nonfiction genre. Her most recent
reads: The Obama books.
Shainwald has the respect of the
“Sybil Shainwald’s compassion
and professional skills have ennobled
the practice of law.” These words by
U.S. District Court Judge Jack B.
Weinstein, before whom Shainwald
appeared hundreds of times, encapsulate
her life and career.
She says the Hamptons have undergone
major changes since she and
her family began to seek their solace
on the East End. She has spent
almost all of her time in Southampton
during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She has continued to enjoy her
“So many restaurants have come
and gone,” she says. “A lot of things
Her favorite restaurant now? “The
American Hotel,” she answers, without
skipping a beat. “I love it there.”
Despite the increase in people and
traffic, Shainwald still loves Southampton
and the East End.
“The ocean, the beach, the town, it
is a fantastic place,” says Shainwald.
“It is one of the most beautiful places
in the world.”
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning
publicist and associate publisher of