From: MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST [mailto:MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST]
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2001 10:45 AM
Subject: Michael Iovenko
ALAA is deeply saddened by the death on Saturday of former LAS President Michael Iovenko.
December 3, 2001
Michael Iovenko, 71, Lawyer; Led Aid Society During Strike By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Michael Iovenko, a Wall Street lawyer and former New York State banking official who was president of the Legal Aid Society during a bitter 1994 labor confrontation between its staff lawyers and the Giuliani administration, died in Manhattan on Saturday. He was 71.
Mr. Iovenko had a heart attack while playing tennis at the Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club and was pronounced dead at St. Clare’s Hospital, said his wife, Nancy Newhouse Iovenko, the travel editor of The New York Times.
For many years, Mr. Iovenko was a partner in the firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed, practicing corporate and banking law, and had been treasurer of the City Bar Association since 1998. He was deputy superintendent and counsel of the State Banking Department from 1970 to 1972 and was a member of the United States delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in 1967.
But he was perhaps best known as president of the Legal Aid Society from October 1991 to November 1994. It was a time of innovation and growth for the society — the primary defender of the poor in the city’s courts — but also one of budget problems that accelerated in the last year of his tenure, when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s crackdown on quality- of-life offenses swelled caseloads and strained the nonprofit group’s staff and resources.
In a brief but rancorous fight with the administration in the fall of 1994, unionized Legal Aid lawyers seeking raises and smaller workloads staged a four-day strike that was crushed by the mayor’s threat to sever the city’s 28-year relationship with the society. The lawyers returned to work, but the angry mayor canceled the contract anyway.
Mr. Iovenko, whose term was running out, tried to negotiate with both sides and was caught in the middle, unable to prevent the walkout or to stop the city from canceling the contract. The city later offered a new contract — eventually accepted by Mr. Iovenko’s successor — with budget cuts that reduced the staff without easing caseloads.
Daniel Greenberg, president of the society, praised Mr. Iovenko’s “enormous diplomatic skills” and said he had been ready to settle with the staff and avert the strike, but had been stopped by the administration. “Had his wisdom been allowed to prevail, the whole confrontation could have been avoided,” Mr. Greenberg said.
Michael Iovenko was born in New York on Jan. 19, 1930. He graduated from the Horace Mann School in 1947, Dartmouth College in 1951 and Columbia University Law School in 1954. He was an associate professor of banking at Fordham University from 1988 to 1991, and wrote articles for The National Law Journal, The New York Law Journal and other publications.
Besides continuing on the board of the Legal Aid Society, he was a member of the Governor’s Council on Youth and the Mayor’s Advisory Committee to the city’s Department of Juvenile Justice, and a director of the Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, a home for delinquent boys in Canaan, N.Y.
A lifelong Francophile, he was a director and former president of the French-American Foundation and was recently named a chevalier of the National Order of Merit by the French government.
Mr. Iovenko’s first marriage, to Sallie Bingham, the daughter of Barry Bingham Sr., the late editor and publisher of The Louisville Courier- Journal, ended in divorce in 1976. He married Nancy Riley Newhouse in 1983.
Besides his wife, Mr. Iovenko is survived by two sons from his first marriage, Christopher, of Los Angeles; and William, of Louisville, Ky.; and a sister, Cristina Howe of Miami.