With deep sadness, Practising Law Institute announces the passing of our President, Anita Carr Shapiro following a battle with cancer.
A beloved colleague, friend and inspiration, Anita devoted her talents to PLI for 20 years, the last five as President. The first woman president in our 87-year history, she steered PLI to great success, pouring her energy, creativity and skill into developing leading programs, publications and pro bono resources for the legal community.
Combining a law degree with a background in the liberal arts including advanced studies in music and dance, Anita had exceptional insight and sensitivity as well as a keen understanding of the legal and business worlds. Under her leadership, PLI remained the standard-bearer for continuing legal education, strengthening the profession with timely content and essential pro bono programs to ensure access to justice. Thanks to her foresight, the organization invested in best-in-class talent and technologies well before the COVID-19 pandemic and was able to pivot quickly to live webcasts, on-demand programming and online publishing capabilities to ensure customers could access content remotely. During the pandemic, she also oversaw the relocation of our San Francisco office, keeping the project on track and the team connected.
Anita’s leadership contributed to PLI’s success in numerous tangible ways. PLI grew its Privileged Membership to include over 95% of the Am Law 100 and over 50% of Fortune 500 companies in recent years. With the re-launch of its website in 2019, PLI saw increased usage across all of its offerings. Reflecting Anita’s dedication to PLI as a nonprofit organization committed to pro bono, complimentary registrations for individuals and groups serving clients in need soared past 250,000 during her tenure as President.
“Our Board of Trustees will always be grateful to Anita for her five years of strong, inspiring leadership, as well as the more than two decades of service she dedicated to PLI,” says Board Trustee Chair Justice Angela M. Mazzarelli. “More than a wonderful colleague, Anita was a friend who lit up any room with her smile, wit, style and intellect. She was also a mentor to many at PLI and beyond. This is a devastating loss for all of us, and PLI will honor her memory by carrying on her commitment to excellence in education, pro bono representation, and the rule of law”
Speaking to Lawdragon in 2018, Anita commented: “This role brings with it tremendous responsibility from both a leadership perspective as well as a personal perspective. I feel a sense of responsibility for our more than 275 employees to be sure that they feel a sense of community and feel appreciated for their hard work. There are goals that must be met and it’s my responsibility to set the right tone. I’m continually raising the bar for myself and striving to inspire others to do the same. Every day my role challenges and pushes me to aim high.”
Prior to her appointment as President, Anita served as a Program Attorney and as Director and Executive Vice President of the Program Division. Under the leadership of former president Victor Rubino, she was responsible for many transformational initiatives, including PLI’s New York office relocation as well as the design of the Institute’s state-of-the-art conference center. She also served in sales and management capacities with West Group and in business development for Mayer Brown.
Anita practiced as a litigator in New York City after receiving her J.D. from Temple University School of Law. She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and attended the Columbia Business School, where she earned the Certificate in Business Excellence from the Columbia Business School Executive Education Division. She was a member of the American Bar Association Business Law Section, the Association of Continuing Legal Education, a Fellow of both the American Bar Foundation and the College of Law Practice Management and an Accredited Attorney for Representation of Veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
She was committed to making a difference and giving back, and supported several organizations dedicated to the arts, helping the elderly and local communities.
PLI’s Board of Trustees recently voted to appoint Craig Miller as Interim President. Craig, who previously served as Senior Vice President, joined the organization in 2017.