In fact, Ciparick said, her personal philosophy may have been shaped as much by her work as a staff attorney in the Bronx for the Legal Aid Society when she was fresh out of law school in 1967 to 1969 as by her gender or ethnicity. She primarily represented poor clients in civil matters like landlord-tenant disputes and matrimonial and custody actions.
"I think my sensitivity was not necessarily an ethnic sensitivity, but I started my career in poverty law, working for Legal Aid," she said. "So maybe there was a sensitivity toward poverty law that I had."
Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society, said Ciparick gave voice to the underprivileged throughout her career.
"She brought to bear both great intellectual force but also an understanding of the real-life problems of flesh-and-blood New Yorkers, particularly those who were the least fortunate among us," Banks said.
After serving in legal staff positions in the court system, Ciparick was appointed by Mayor Ed Koch to the New York City Criminal Court in 1978. Four years later, she was elected to Manhattan Supreme Court.
As a trial judge, Ciparick was best-known for her 1991 decision in Hope v. Perales, 150 Misc. 2d 985, in which she ruled that denying taxpayer-funded abortions to women in a government-sponsored prenatal care program was unconstitutional.
Once on the Court of Appeals, Ciparick became close personally and ideologically to Kaye.
"I spent 15 years with her here so I think I am certainly in her mold," Ciparick said. "She was so pleased to have a second woman on the court. I was the newbie, so I feel she was a friend, a mentor, a teacher. Such a good writer, such a good editor. I think my writing got better as a result of having her watchful eye."
The affinity the two felt for each other ran deeper than their status as the only two women on the court from 1994 to 2000.
The two anchored a liberal-leaning wing on the bench, where they were usually joined by Judge George Bundy Smith (1992-2006). Judge Theodore Jones Jr. shared the same ground when he joined the court in early 2007, as did the current chief judge, Jonathan Lippman (See Profile), when he succeeded Kaye in early 2009.