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Lawrence Solotoff, civil rights attorney from Great Neck, has died

Lawrence Solotoff, a civil rights attorney for four

Lawrence Solotoff, a civil rights attorney for four decades, is shown in this file photo. Solotoff, 68, died after a lengthy battle with cancer. Credit: Solotoff Family

Lawrence "Larry" Solotoff -- who, over four decades, championed civil rights and anti-discrimination lawsuits in New York -- has died after a long battle with cancer at Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

He was 68.

Solotoff, who was born and raised in Howard Beach, Queens, graduated from New York Law School in 1972. He is most well known for his successful pro bono representation in a federal class-action lawsuit involving 300,000 Vietnam War veterans who suffered from tropical diseases, his family said.

"He was such an amazing person," said his wife, Cheryl Solotoff. "He was kind, compassionate and fair; a man of deep integrity. Civil rights was the perfect career for him because he gave a voice to those among us who didn't have one."

Lawrence Solotoff represented the New York City Board of Examiners in developing nondiscriminatory licensing examinations and played a role in opening up specialized high schools to minorities. He was a former chairman of the Nassau County Bar Association Labor & Employment Committee, a fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and a chairman for more than 20 other professional committees, his wife said.

Solotoff, of Great Neck, was also an adjunct professor at Touro College of Law and New York Institute of Technology.

He co-wrote a legal text, "Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," that was updated twice a year.

The Solotoffs met in 1966 and married three years later. They had three sons and lived in Oceanside before settling in Great Neck in the early 1980s.

Lawrence Solotoff's passion for law inspired his wife to enter law school.

She graduated from Hofstra University School of Law in 1987 and they soon became law partners. They created Solotoff & Solotoff, a firm based in Great Neck.

"I wouldn't have gone to law school if it weren't for him," Cheryl Solotoff said. "He loved it so. He made it look like fun."

Eugene Ginsberg, 84, a lawyer from Garden City, said he met Solotoff in the mid-1980s through their involvement with the Nassau County Bar Association.

"Larry was a great lawyer who was always happy to share his knowledge," Ginsberg said, adding how much Solotoff was respected throughout the Long Island and New York City legal communities.

"He was willing to talk to anybody who had a question or a problem relating to his area of expertise -- quick or long, he'd answer it," Ginsberg said. "He was free with his time and he helped a lot of people."

Solotoff practiced law "until the day he died," his wife said. In the midst of his illness, he passed the bar in Pennsylvania in 2012.

He was remembered by hundreds at his funeral as a master orator who loved to golf, as well as an avid reader who enjoyed books on Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and the Constitution.

Solotoff was buried on Jan. 26 at Beth Moses Jewish Cemetery in Farmingdale. Besides his wife, he is survived by three sons, Justin Solotoff, of Montville, N.J.; Brandon Solotoff, of Nutley, N.J.; Darryn Solotoff, of Centerport; and five grandchildren.

"It was a tremendous loss," Cheryl Solotoff said. "He tried to make this world a better place and he left a large footprint."

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