October 29, 2008


Tharp, 60, served as third female president of the Association; initiatives included gender equity, diversity in the judiciary, civil legal services funding and animal law

It is with great sadness and a deep sense of loss that we mourn the passing of Lorraine Power Tharp, the New York State Bar Association's 105th President and the third woman to lead the State Bar.

Compassionate, warm, and wise beyond her years, Tharp exemplified the best of the legal profession and unfailing service to society. From working to increase diversity in the profession and in the ranks of State Bar leadership, to fostering gender equity in the legal field, from serving as a role model for the profession, to raising awareness of the care and ethical treatment of animals that the profession owed, she worked tirelessly to give a voice to those who did not have one.

"Lorraine strongly believed that making a difference was not only her calling, but the duty of every attorney. She once said that every single lawyer has the ability to help someone and to solve somebody's problem. Lorraine's legacy is her resounding belief that every lawyer counts and that every person counts, and she lived every day to pursue that higher calling," said President Bernice K. Leber. "Her lasting contributions to the practice of law include working to obtain an increase in the assigned counsel fee rate, supporting adequate funding for civil legal services and spearheading the creation of a cutting-edge sexual harassment policy for law offices."

During her presidential term from 2002-03, Tharp created the Task Force on Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary, the Annual Meeting Presidential Summit and the Special Committee on Animals and the Law. Following the presidency, Tharp co-chaired the Association's Committee on Diversity and Leadership Development from 2005-2008. She also served as Treasurer to the Board of Directors of The New York Bar Foundation. She was a member of the American Bar Association, where she served as a Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. Tharp frequently lectured and wrote on real estate practice throughout New York.

Tharp was elected to the Association's Executive Committee as a Member-At-Large in 1994, serving three terms before beginning a four-year term as the Association's secretary. She chaired the Real Property Section from 1998-1999. Tharp was also a member of the Committee on Women in the Law and chaired the subcommittee that drafted the Association's report and model policy on sexual harassment.

A native of Massena, Tharp graduated from Smith College and earned her law degree from Cornell Law School. She was the first woman lawyer at McNamee Lochner Titus & Williams in 1978 and later became the first woman partner in 1981. She became a partner of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP, chairing the Commercial and Residential Real Estate Practice Group. A 35-year practicing lawyer, Tharp received the Albany Law School's prestigious Kate Stoneman Award in 2003 and the New York County Lawyers' Association's Outstanding Women of the Bar honor in 2004.

Tharp was an active member of her community, devoting substantial time and energy to many charitable organizations. She served as a commissioner of the New York State Racing Commission and was the first woman to serve on the Commission. She chaired the Saratoga Springs Planning Board and served on the board of directors of many arts organizations, including the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Inc. She received the 1995 Leadership Saratoga Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2002 Saratoga Soroptimist Club's Woman of the Year Award and the 2003 Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce's Woman of Excellence in the Professions Award.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, the Association's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.

Information on service arrangements and an obituary can be found at: http://www.nysba.org/LorrainePowerTharp.