May 22, 2017: Legal Aid Society Chief Seymour W. James, Jr. Honored By NYS Association For Distinguished Public Service

By Communications Department

Seymour W. James, Jr., attorney-in-chief of The Legal Aid Society in New York City, has been recognized with the 2017 Robert L. Haig Award, given by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association.

James heads the nation’s oldest and largest not-for-profit legal services organization, which annually handles 300,000 individual cases and matters. James was first hired by the Legal Aid Society in 1974 and has held various supervisory positions within the organization. He was the first attorney of color appointed as the attorney-in-charge of its criminal practice, the largest public defender group in the country and the main provider of indigent defense in New York City.

“Mr. James has devoted his life to equal justice and his entire legal career of more than 40 years to ensuring that underserved New Yorkers receive high quality representation,” said Mark Berman of New York City (Ganfer & Shore), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. “He is a model for our younger generation of attorneys.”

James served as president of the New York State Bar Association in 2012-13 and has been active in the State Bar since 1978, including three terms as treasurer and as the vice president for the 11th district. His other activities have included serving on the state Permanent Sentencing Commission, the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department, and the Committee on Character and Fitness for the Second Judicial Department.

The Robert L. Haig Award is given each year to a long-standing member of the legal profession who has rendered distinguished public service. Haig, a litigator at Kelley Drye in New York City, was the founder and first chair of the Association’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section.

Tracee E. Davis of New York City (Zeichner, Ellman & Krause), a past section chair, presented the award to James during the section’s Spring meeting in Saratoga Springs May 20.

The 72,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Christian Nolan

Senior Writer

[email protected]


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