Robert MacCrate, former President of both the State Bar Association and the American Bar Association (ABA),  and Hon. Judith Smith Kaye, the first woman to serve as Chief Judge of New York, will be honored by the New York State Bar Association Saturday at a reception during the annual meeting of the American Bar Association (ABA) in Toronto.

"Throughout their careers, Robert MacCrate and Chief Judge Kaye have remained exceptionally committed to our profession and to public service, and each with such significant results," said State Bar President Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo LLP). 

While planning to recognize MacCrate and Kaye, state bar leaders learned that they had worked closely together 49 years ago.

MacCrate and Kaye met September 4, 1962, the day he returned to Sullivan and Cromwell after serving as counsel to Governor Nelson Rockefeller and the day young Judith Smith, fresh out of law school, began her job in the firm's litigation department. He was her first boss and became her longtime mentor. 
MacCrate, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, is marking a number of milestones in the coming year: the 40th anniversary of his presidency of the State Bar; the 25th anniversary of his presidency of the ABA; and the 20th anniversary of the publication of what is known as the "The MacCrate Report," which touched off a national discussion about the future of legal education. MacCrate was ABA President between 1987 and 1988, the last New Yorker to head the ABA.

Kaye was the first woman to serve on the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court. She was appointed in 1983 by Governor Mario Cuomo. Ten years later, Cuomo named her chief judge, a position she held until her retirement in 2008. As chief judge, Kaye spearheaded reform of jury service and creation of innovative courts specializing in such areas as commercial litigation, domestic violence and drug addiction. More recently, she has focused on creating youth courts, advocating for civic education and developing ways to help children at risk.

Both MacCrate and Kaye are past recipients of the State Bar  Gold Medal, the association's highest honor. MacCrate is senior counsel with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP,  where he began his legal career in 1948. Kaye is of counsel with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. 

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the nation's largest voluntary state bar association.  It was founded in 1876.  For information, go to


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