HISTORY OF THE
ONONDAGA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION
Onondaga County Bar Association was incorporated on June 12,
1875, with the following objectives:
maintain the honor and dignity of the profession of law,
to cultivate social discourse among its members, to
increase its significance in promoting the due
administration of Justice.
In 1997 the
Association adopted the following Mission Statement, defining
the Association's objectives as it approaches the beginning of
the next century:
The mission of
the Onondaga County Bar Association is to inspire
excellence in the legal profession, to foster the fair
administration of justice, and to promote equal access to
the legal system.
The first president
of the Association was William C. Ruger, who later became
Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. The first woman
President, M. Catherine Richardson, was elected to serve the
1987 term. Ms. Richardson is also a past-President of
the New York State Bar
William Crawford Ruger
First President of the
Onondaga County Bar Association
attorney was Thaddeus M. Wood. His practice was established in
1794 when the "hallowed proceedings" of the Court of
Common Pleas were held in Asa Danforth's courthouse in
Typical of Syracuse's
early attorneys was George F. Comstock (1811-1892). Comstock,
who served on the Court of Appeals from 1855-1861, was a
long-time member of the board of trustees and a major
benefactor of Syracuse University.
His gift to the University provided the capital for the
institution's move to its present location.
Julie R. Jenny was
the first woman lawyer in Central New York. In the early
1920's she became the first woman Deputy Attorney General of
New York State. She also served her community well. She
organized the Legal Relief Society, the Syracuse Federation of
Women's Clubs, and the Professional Women's League.
Many other members of
the local bar are remembered for civic contributions. Among
them is the late Stewart R. Hancock, whose efforts on behalf
of the community earned him the acclaim of "Mr.
Syracuse." Continuing that tradition were attorneys like
Benjamin E. Shove and Robert McAuliffe, recipients of
University College's award of "Meritorious Community
accomplishments and contributions of distinguished attorneys
of the past may be forgotten, many of their names remain.
Nottingham Road, Comstock Avenue, Hancock International
Airport, and Charles Andrews School take their names from
distinguished members of the Association. The Hiscock Legal
Aid Society and the Senator Hughes State Office Building are
also tributes to outstanding Association members.
Having established Onondaga
County's court system as one of the most efficient in the
country, members of the local bar have long been instrumental
in the administration of the state court system. Syracuse has
sent more lawyers to Albany to serve as Chief Judges of the
the Court of Appeals, New York State's highest court, than any
other community. Hon. Stewart F. Hancock, Jr. recently retired
after serving as a judge of that Court, and is now a permanent
member of the Association's Board of Directors..
York State Bar and American
Bar Association have also felt the influence of Syracuse
attorneys. Justice Ruger, the first president of the Onondaga
County Bar Association, presided at the formation of the State
Bar in November, 1876. Local lawyers including William
Nottingham, Edmund Lewis, Frank Hiscock, George H. Bond, Sr.,
William Fitzpatrick, Joseph H. Murphy, and Lewis C. Ryan have
headed the State Bar. The first woman member of the State Bar
Association was Georgia Hare, who also received distinction
from the Onondaga Bar Association as a recipient of the Fifty
Year Lawyer Award in 1960.
Onondaga County Bar
Association members have been long active in governmental
service. Frank Hiscock served in the United States Senate,
elected in 1887. Syracuse's two governors, Nathan Miller
(1921-1923) and Horace White (1910) and two attorneys general,
Theodore E. Hancock (1885-99) and Daniel Pratt (1873), were
all members of the Onondaga Bar Association, as was Lt.
Governor Edward Schoeneck.
Throughout the years
scores of local attorneys have served prominently in the state
legislature. Powerful leading roles were held by such men as
the late Senator John H. Hughes and former Assemblyman Charles
through the years have had a major impact on the
administration of local governments. City Hall and county
records of legislative proceedings are dotted with the names
of prominent members of the county bar, including, in recent
history, Mayors Rolland D. Marvin, Frank J. Costello, and
Supreme Court Justice Donald Mead, who also served as the
city's chief executive.