The New York State Bar Association today extends its sympathy to the family and friends of Robert MacCrate, who served as its president from 1972–1973 and president of the American Bar Association from 1987–1988.
MacCrate died April 6. He was 94.
“Robert MacCrate was a national force urging his colleagues in the legal profession to uphold their responsibilities to the profession,” said State Bar President David P. Miranda. “His vision for the profession will continue to shape debates about the future of the legal profession for years to come.”
As State Bar president, MacCrate’s tenure was marked by his concerns for the legal profession. He influenced many of today’s state and national professional tenets, including opposition to allowing lawyers to partner with non-lawyers in multidisciplinary practices.
MacCrate was one of the leaders of a coalition of state and local bars that blocked passage of recommendations of the ABA Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice. The commission had proposed relaxing the professional conduct rules to allow lawyers and non-lawyers to share fees as single businesses.
He spearheaded the ABA’s landmark “MacCrate Report,” the 1992 report of the ABA Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession, which he chaired and considered one of his most notable legal victories.
The MacCrate Report called for practical legal skills training during and after law school, and touched off a national discussion on the future of legal education. In 1996, the ABA House of Delegates adopted recodified Standards for the Approval of Law Schools that incorporated many of the task force recommendations.
Active in the State Bar after his presidency and retirement, MacCrate was the recipient of many honors, including the Association’s highest award, the Gold Medal, in 1999, and the prestigious ABA Medal in 2001.
He was a Fellow of The New York Bar Foundation, which created the MacCrate Fund in his honor in 2008. It provides funding for educational programs for attorneys that uphold and preserve the core values of the legal profession. It was established by The New York Bar Foundation when it conferred its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award on him in 2008.
He was a longtime member of the New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates, served as chair of the Committee on the New York State Constitution (1966-67), chair of the Committee on Law Governing Firm Structure and Operation (1999-2003) and was a member of the Special Committee on the Bar Exam.
MacCrate joined Sullivan & Cromwell’s New York City office immediately after graduating from law school in 1948, where he spent the majority of his career, later becoming a partner and vice chairman.
He served as counsel to Nelson A. Rockefeller from 1959–1962 and special counsel to the Department of the Army for the investigation of the My Lai Massacre, the only civilian among Army personnel investigating the killing of hundreds of civilians by American troops in 1968.
MacCrate was born and raised in Brooklyn and received his undergraduate degree from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and his law degree from Harvard Law School. He served in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet from 1943–1946 and was also an instructor for Naval Supply Corps at Harvard Business School.
Services are pending. MacCrate is survived by his three children and their spouses, Christopher MacCrate (Kari Barlow), Barbara MacCrate Stout (Chuck Stout), and Thomas MacCrate (Claire MacCrate); 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
His wife Constance Trapp MacCrate preceded him in death on Jan. 21, 2016. In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting a donation to The MacCrate Fund to Preserve the Core Values of the Legal Profession, c/o The New York Bar Foundation, 1 Elk Street, Albany NY 12207.
The New York State Bar Association, with 74,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Christina Couto
Senior Media Writer