Legal luminaries like Benjamin N. Cardozo, and even former U.S. presidents like Dwight D. Eisenhower, all share a common bond special to the New York State Bar Association - they delivered addresses at Annual Meeting dinners.
From 1877 to 1995, the Annual Dinner was the flagship event for NYSBA, sometimes drawing more than 1,000 people.
In 2020, NYSBA will honor its rich history by going back to the future and restoring the proud tradition of a gala dinner as the featured event of Annual Meeting.
NYSBA is excited to announce that the gala dinner will be held Thursday, January 30, 2020 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The dinner will be open to all NYSBA members for a reasonable cost.
The gala dinner will replace the previous Annual Meeting week format, which has included the House of Delegates dinner on Thursday and the President's Dinner on Saturday, following the conclusion of Annual Meeting. Attendance at both the House of Delegates Dinner and the President's Dinner was by invitation only.
The event will still include the traditional presentation of the Gold Medal Award, the highest honor bestowed by the State Bar Association, and will feature a special guest speaker. At the dinner, NYSBA plans to honor the judges of the New York State Court of Appeals, along with other state court appellate jurists.
"We are planning an extraordinary event that is more inclusive and open to the entire membership," said President-elect Hank Greenberg. "We anticipate a large crowd of New York lawyers to attend this dinner, including distinguished jurists and other leaders of the New York bar."
Often times the guest speakers made national news for their remarks at the Annual Meeting dinner. For instance, during World War I in 1918, Sir Frederick Edwin Smith, British Attorney General in the Lloyd George Cabinet, was diplomatically critical of President Woodrow Wilson during his speech before NYSBA. His comments were reported in the New York Times on Sunday, Feb. 3, 1918.
In addition to Justice Cardozo (who was chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals at the time), other future members of the Supreme Court who spoke at past Annual Meetings include Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone, and Associate Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Louis D. Brandeis and George Sutherland. Future presidents Grover Cleveland and William Howard Taft also spoke at Annual Meeting.
The Gold Medal has also been awarded at Annual Dinners to several Supreme Court justices, including William J. Brennan, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Potter Stewart, Thurgood Marshall, John Marshall Harlan, Felix Frankfurter and Robert H. Jackson.
Governors, federal cabinet heads and other high-ranking officials have attended in years past. After World War II and prior to becoming the 34th U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke at the Annual Dinner in 1949.
*NYSBA will make additional announcements about the gala dinner in the coming months as more details become available.