The New York State Bar Association today marks its 135th anniversary as an advocate for the fair administration of justice.

It was at "3-and-1/2 o'clock P.M." on Tuesday, November 21, 1876, that the Association first came together in the Assembly chamber of the old state Capitol in Albany. Its founding members were a group of dedicated professionals who shared the goal of using the legal system to improve the lives of New Yorkers.

"To this day, the Bar Association is a leader advocating for court reform, continuing education of attorneys, and legal assistance for low-income New Yorkers in both criminal and civil courts," said President Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo LLP). "I am confident we will continue to live up to the high standards of fairness and integrity set forth by our founders 135 years ago."

Since its founding in 1876, the Bar Association has been dedicated to making sure our legal system is fair, open and responsive to the people. During the past 135 years, the Bar Association has championed adequate funding for the Judiciary, adoption of professional practice standards for attorneys and continuing educational programs.

Helping low-income residents obtain access to justice has been a recurring theme throughout the organization's history. It is committed to ensuring that low-income individuals accused of crimes have competent counsel to defend them, while also raising its voice on behalf of funding civil legal services for the poor.  In addition, Association members spend thousands of hours each year donating pro bono services to the indigent.

In 2011, the State Bar Association, arguing that all New Yorkers should be equal before the law, lobbied for the successful passage of a law permitting same-sex couples to marry. Another priority that came to fruition in 2011 was new government ethics legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year. And even after 135 years, the Association continues to look forward, with the publication of a report on the Future of the Legal Profession.

Founded with 356 members, the New York State Bar Association now has a membership of 77,000, making it the largest voluntary state bar association in the United States. Among the Association's distinguished members and leaders over the years are U.S. presidents Grover Cleveland and Chester A. Arthur, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice and New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes, several other New York governors, and numerous prominent judges and attorneys from around the state.

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Contact: Mark Mahoney
Associate Director of Media Services
mmahoney@nysba.org
518/487-5532