The Birth of NYSBA: An In-Depth Look at the Founding of the Association

By Jennifer Andrus

The Birth of NYSBA: An In-Depth Look at the Founding of the Association

11.1.2022

By Jennifer Andrus

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In honor of the 146th anniversary of the founding of the New York State Bar Association this month, the New York State Bar Association is releasing a special video edition of Miranda Warnings. This 30-minute special follows an article written by past President Henry M. Greenberg in the New York State Bar Journal earlier this year.

Greenberg sat down with Miranda Warnings host and NYSBA General Counsel David Miranda to discuss new research and documents  on the founding of one of the country’s oldest bar associations.

The year was 1876 and Greenberg says it was an exciting time in American history with New York State at the center of it all.

“The nation was celebrating its centennial, the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  In every realm of American life, great things were happening. In the arts, Huckleberry Finn was published by Mark Twain. In sciences and technology, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. Thomas Edison in Menlo Park in New Jersey was thinking of how to create a phonograph. The military was engaged in the Montana Territory. Custer had his famous last stand.”

At that time, New York State is both the economic and political center of the country. New York politicians of that era such as Grover Cleveland and Chester Arthur went on to become presidents of the United State. New York State had the most lawyers of any state in the country that year at about 7,000.  Legal leaders saw a  need for lawyers to advocate on public policy.

“They found that lawyers could speak with greater force if they were an organic whole. If the entire state was knitted together in one association of lawyers,” Greenberg said.

“At that time, New York, as political and economic proposition, upstate New York was even more consequential and powerful. Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse were economic powerhouses in addition to the City of New York.  So upstate and downstate, there was a collective sense that the bar could be more influential in advocating in the legislature and in the development of the court system and juris prudence if they were a single association.”

You can see the full video here.

You can hear it in podcast form below.

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