The New York Law Journal was founded in March 1888, introduced to a city with 40 lively newspapers competing for attention as its inhabitants recovered from a crippling blizzard. The Law Journal had a mission: it would stand out as a paper devoted to “reporting on legal decisions, the production of topics of interest to the Bench and Bar, and the publication of court calendars and legal notices.” It also promised to become “one of the recognized legal publications of the country.” Today, the Law Journal is New York State’s most trusted daily source of legal news and information about state and federal courts, law firms large and small, judges and lawyers, government agencies and public interest groups, law schools and in-house departments and more. Mission accomplished, and then some.
The story of the Law Journal over the last 125 years is the story of New York’s vibrant legal community. After all, without our loyal readers, we wouldn’t be here. I wonder if the first editor and publisher, George Pearce, could have imagined in 1888 that the number of white-shoe firms would multiply and expand into the sophisticated and complex businesses they have become; that lawyers would change firms every few years, thus changing the definition of partnership; that the five-judge appellate division benches would stretch to 20 as caseloads ballooned; that the five law schools would become 15; that in-house departments would emerge as a destination for bright attorneys; that women and people of color would fill the ranks of the state’s bar; that the single price of the Law Journal, a nickel, would rise (significantly); or that technology would create means of delivering information without paper.
This very special 125th anniversary issue is devoted to you, our readers. I hope the articles, timelines and commentaries give you a sense of how far we have come and clarify the challenges ahead. Enjoy the essays about our Lifetime Achievers, written by friends, family and colleagues who know them well. Learn how our Impact Award winners have put their mark on the practice of law in New York. A special thanks to our contributors: Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman; Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti; Appellate Division Presiding Justices Luis Gonzalez, Randall Eng, Karen Peters and Henry Scudder; Second Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs; Mel Immergut of Milbank Tweed; Candace Beinecke of Hughes Hubbard; Vincent Bonventre of Albany Law School; and Albert Rosenblatt and Michael Benowitz of the New York Historical Society of the Courts and Jeffrey Morris of Touro Law School, for creating excellent state and federal timelines.
No tribute would be complete without an expression of gratitude to our faithful columnists, whose articles and insights have been a staple of the Law Journal for decades. And heartfelt appreciation to the Law Journal staff whose talent, energy, and we-can-do-better spirit keeps us on track to grow and improve every day.
If I can restate the proclamation of our founders, the Law Journal’s mission has always been to serve our readers, by listening, by studying, by reporting on issues fairly and accurately, by shining a light on the community’s good deeds but also exposing the weak and the bad; by creating a forum where New York lawyers air grievances, exchange ideas and motivate one another to reach the highest rungs of the profession. It has been a privilege to serve such an intelligent, dynamic and engaged community and we hope to continue doing so for decades to come.