January 28, 2011


James P. Bessette of Malone (Fischer, Bessette, Muldowney & Hunter, LLP) was announced as the recipient of the 2011 Attorney Professionalism Award from the New York State Bar Association during its House of Delegates Dinner on January 27 in New York City. Sponsored by the State Bar's Committee on Attorney Professionalism, the award honors a State Bar member who adheres to the highest standards of professionalism including an extraordinary dedication to clients, an unwavering commitment to promoting respect for the legal system and exemplary ethical conduct. The honoree is a role model to other attorneys in the areas of competence, good judgment, integrity and civility.

The committee honored Bessette for his exceptional legal skills and unmatched integrity even under the most challenging circumstances. Of particular note was his first case involving a young mother and her newborn son in a family court proceeding. Through his hard work and expert advice, Bessette successfully resolved the case for the family, putting them on a path forward. Today, her son is a law school graduate and a partner of Bessette's law firm.

Bessette, a former district attorney for Franklin County, was cited by attorneys, judges, and the police for his extraordinary fairness and ethical conduct that serve as a high professional standard for all New York attorneys. He is well regarded for his meticulous preparation, command of the law and a peerless ability to balance zealous, skillful representation of clients and treating legal adversaries with the utmost courtesy and respect.

"James Bessette is a steward of the legal profession, whose sound judgment and extraordinary devotion to both his clients and the law are without comparison. His exemplary conduct in a legal career that stretches three and a half decades is a model of excellence for all of us," said State Bar President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP). "I congratulate Mr. Bessette on receiving this award."

"Throughout his career, James Bessette has been guided by the principle of always doing 'the right thing.' His success is evident in the genuine respect he has engendered from the legal profession and the enormous trust that his clients have placed in him," said Marion Hancock Fish of Syracuse (Hancock & Estabrook LLP), chair of the Committee on Attorney Professionalism. "He is richly deserving of this honor, and it is our great privilege to recognize his career as the gold standard of integrity in our profession."

"James Bessette has practiced in many diverse roles during his legal career. During that time, he has shown extraordinary integrity and civility, no matter the client nor the situation. He also has mentored many attorneys during his career, helping them to learn and follow his high ethical standards, which have always guided his career," said Derek Champagne, district attorney of Franklin County. "This recognition is truly deserved."

A graduate of St. Lawrence University and Albany Law School, Bessette is a partner of Fischer, Bessette, Muldowney & Hunter, LLP, concentrating his practice in personal injury law. He previously served as a member of the Third Department's Committee on Professional Standards.

Bessette is a member of the State Bar's Trial Lawyers and Torts, Insurance and Compensation Law sections. He also is a member of the American Association for Justice, New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and the Franklin County Bar Association, of which he served as president.

A leader in his community, Bessette served as chairman of the Malone Community Trust and the PK Curtain Fund. He founded both the Malone Youth Soccer Association and the Malone American Legion Baseball Program.

Recent award winners include: Mark A. Longo of Brooklyn (Longo & D'Apice); Jill M. Cicero of Rochester (Jill M. Cicero & Associates); Peter V. Coffey (Englert, Coffey, McHugh and Fantauzzi, LLP); Frank E. Yannelli of Rockville Centre (Yannelli & Zevin); and Terrence M. Connors of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo, LLP).

The 77,000-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 135 years.