Sylvia Roberts

Obituary
  • "I've known Sylvia since she was about 10 yrs old...She..."
    - Jacqui Michot-Ceballos
  • "Sylvia was simply the best. She was instrumental in my..."
    - Lynn Gildersleeve
  • "Sylvia Roberts was a courageous, strategic, feminist lawyer..."
    - Mary Jean Collins
  • "My husband and I have been one of Sylvia's longing running..."
    - Diane Womack
  • "Sylvia Roberts was such an inspiration to NOW activists in..."
    - Terry O'Neill

Sylvia was born on January 6 in Bryan, TX, while her father was a professor at Texas A&M, in 1933. She lived in Lafayette for 10 years and later moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1945. She graduated from UCLA. in 1953, was accepted into its law school, but decided to return to LA, where she attended LSU Law School and later, Tulane Law School from which she graduated in 1956. She went to the University at the Sorbonne in Paris for a year after graduating from law school to study comparative law. She began her legal career in New Orleans with the law firm of H. Alva Brumfield, later moving to Brumfield's office in Baton Rouge. She was active in the founding of the National Organization for Women and in 1969 won the precedent-setting case of Weeks v. Southern Bell, on appeal, while vice president of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. The precedent ended restrictions on job availability under the guise of "protection" for women workers. She was also able to help people who had been wrongfully committed to hospitals for the insane. In 1966 she got the Legislature to pass resolutions authorizing her to sue for damages on behalf of her clients and obtained the release of many patients wrongfully confined. In recent years, she turned her efforts towards prevention of domestic violence and the prevention of teen dating violence to stop the problem at its inception. She was able to practice almost 60 years before her death on December 29, 2014. Her professionalism and competence, as well as her commitments to her clients, served as a model for the entire Baton Rouge legal community and the Louisiana Bar Association members. She was qualified to practice before several courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. In accordance with her wishes, there will be no funeral services.
Published in TheAdvocate.com from Jan. 9 to Jan. 11, 2015
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