June 18, 2009


Thomas S. Richards cited for leadership, integrity and commitment to community

ALBANY-The New York State Bar Association announced today that Thomas S. Richards of Rochester is the recipient of the prestigious Root/Stimson Award for 2009 - an annual honor that recognizes an attorney who demonstrates outstanding commitment to community service. Richards, who currently serves as corporation counsel to the City of Rochester, will receive the award on June 20 at the State Bar's House of Delegates meeting in Cooperstown.

Described by friends and colleagues as a man who has selflessly dedicated himself to the community of Rochester, Richards has played a major leadership role on the boards of many important non-profit organizations including the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Greater Rochester Enterprise, the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, the Center for Government Research, the Otetiana Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School.

Richards' contribution to the delivery of health care in Rochester is particularly notable. For example, as a member of the board of the University of Rochester Medical Center, and later as its chairman (2007-2008), he implemented an ambitious strategic plan that resulted in significant expansion, including the addition of a new Cancer Center and Cardiovascular Institute. His efforts at the Medical Center have resulted in measureable improvements in the delivery of health care and also have helped the University become Rochester's largest employer with the equivalent of more than 19,000 full-time employees.

As a member of the board of the Rochester Institute of Technology and chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee, he is credited with bringing the University into compliance with the initial phase of Sarbanes-Oxley, a complicated federal law administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Tom is an extraordinary leader whose problem-solving abilities, keen legal expertise and dedication to service represent the very best of our profession," said State Bar President Michael E. Getnick of Utica (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of  New York City). "From his leadership role in Rochester's health care community to his service on the boards of so many worthy non-profits, he has demonstrated an unparalleled generosity of time and effort. It is only fitting that the State Bar honor him with the 2009 Root/Stimson Award for community service."

"Tom Richards has built a deserving reputation as a distinguished lawyer and businessman. Yet it is his devotion to community and his innumerable contributions to the City of Rochester that set him apart," said Paul Michael Hassett of Buffalo (Brown & Kelly LLP), chair of the Root/Stimson Award Subcommittee of the Committee on the Annual Award, which sponsored the competition. "He is, indeed, an excellent choice to receive this honor."

Richards is a graduate of Bucknell University and Cornell University Law School. He also served in the U.S. Navy. In his current post as corporation counsel to the City of Rochester, he oversees the Law Department and serves as a member of Mayor Robert J. Duffy's senior management team. He was previously the managing partner of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle (now Nixon Peabody LLP), and chairman, president and CEO of RGS Energy Group.

The Root/Stimson Award is named in honor of Elihu Root and Henry L. Stimson, who selflessly gave much of their time and effort to community service activities. The award, created in 1974, is presented to a lawyer admitted to practice in New York who is actively involved in volunteer community service work.

The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.