Lynette Labinger: Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa

RWU Law celebrates an outstanding Rhode Island constitutional and civil rights attorney, who has made a successful career out of fighting for social change.

Michael M. Bowden
Lynette Labinger, Constitutional and Civil Rights Attorney; RWU Law Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa '21

This Friday, May 21, Roger Williams University School of Law will present constitutional and civil rights attorney Lynette Labinger with the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.

Attorney Lynette Labinger has made a career out of fighting for social change. She has been celebrated as “one of the region’s most successful and dedicated social advocacy lawyers, playing a significant role in cases and court decisions that have affected everything from equality in women’s athletics to the rights of prison preachers, avant-garde artists and same-sex couples.”

While visiting relatives in the Soviet Union in 1970, Labinger said, she “really came to recognize the importance of the First Amendment here in the United States [and] got very interested in what the law could do in terms of social advocacy. That’s where I still am today.”

Having received her A.B. at Mount Holyoke College and her J.D. at New York University School of Law, Labinger was first drawn to the Ocean State by a clerkship with the Honorable Raymond J. Pettine of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, known for his groundbreaking decisions in the field of constitutional and civil rights. She went on to work at a law firm headed by Milton Stanzler, one of the founders of the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Labinger continued to champion constitutional and civil rights litigation throughout her years of private practice, including a 35-year association with her partner John M. Roney. Since 2018, she has limited her practice to cases sponsored by the ACLU of Rhode Island.

From 2004 to 2019, Labinger served as an Associate and later as Chief Judge of the Housing Court of the City of Providence. A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, she has received numerous honors for her civil rights advocacy, including recognition in 2019 by the Roger Williams University Law Review as a “Gender Equity Champion.”