• 1984

    The City Bar helps create Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) in response to “cuts made by the Reagan Administration in funding legal services for the poor.”



    Formation of Committee on Minorities in the Profession, as part of the Association’s efforts to increase diversity in the legal profession and at the City Bar. The Committee quickly established connections with minority bar associations around the city, including the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and the Puerto Rican Bar Association. Among its early outreach programs was an intern program under which minority law students were provided with the opportunity to work with important committees of the Association, with the hope that, upon graduation and entry into the profession, they would continue being actively involved in the Association.

    Accessibility accommodations are installed in the House of the Association.


  • 1985

    Formation of Special Committee on Election Law. Formed in response to Mayor Ed Koch’s request that the Association examine the state’s election law “and its highly technical restrictions on access to the ballot.”


    Committee on Professional Discipline issues an informational pamphlet, “How to Complain About Professional Misconduct by Lawyers.”

    Committee on Communications Law issues a booklet, “The Courts in New York State: A Guide for the Press.”

  • 1986

    The Association’s report on “Campaign Finance Legislation” notes that “excessive amounts of money injected into the electoral process distort that process in a way that threatens to undermine the principles of democracy,” and that “[i]deally, candidates for all public office should be freed from obligations to major financial backers.”

    The first issue of 44th Street Notes, the monthly newsletter to Association members, is published in March.

    Formation of the Special Committee on Drugs & the Law.


    The forerunner of the City Bar Justice Center, the Robert B. McKay Community Outreach Law Program (COLP) is created to provide legal information, referral services, clinics and direct representation to low-income New Yorkers.

    The City Bar’s Executive Committee votes 17 to 4 to disapprove the nomination of Robert Bork as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, writing, “Judge Bork’s fundamental judicial philosophy, as expressed repeatedly and consistently over the past thirty years in his writings, public statements and judicial decisions appears to this Association to run counter to many of the fundamental rights and liberties protected by the Constitution.”

    The Association’s Joint Subcommittee on AIDS in the Criminal Justice System issues a report, “Preliminary Report and Recommendations on AIDS in the Criminal Justice System.”


    The Association launches the Amnesty Counseling Program to assist aliens affected by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The program provides free counseling sessions to help undocumented immigrants and their families obtain information about the new law, with a particular focus on addressing the rights and responsibilities of employers and assisting immigrants with employment-related discrimination issues.


    The Association undertakes the first of several human rights missions to Northern Ireland to assess and monitor conditions in the region and to help promote peace and stability between the warring factions.

  • 1988

    The Association issues report on the “Prevention of Homelessness by Providing Legal Representation to Tenants Faced With Eviction,” arguing that providing legal counsel is a highly successful way to prevent unwarranted evictions and urging that public funds be spent to provide counsel to tenants faced with eviction.

    Formation of Special Committee on Government Ethics.

    Formation of Special Committee on Legal Problems of the Disabled.


    Report by the Committee on International Arms Control and Security Affairs, “The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty Interpretation Dispute,” argues against the Reagan Administration’s view that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 allows development and testing of mobile strategic anti-ballistic missile defenses.

    Formation of Committee to Enhance Professional Opportunities for Minorities. Chaired by Cyrus Vance, Sr., the members were all top executives of 35 major law firms.

  • 1989

    The Association forms the Special Committee on Women in the Profession, to further the Association’s longstanding commitment to enhancing the role of women in the legal profession.

    The Committee on Medicine and Law issues a statement in support of a pilot program to issue sterile hypodermic syringes aimed at reducing the spread of HIV among intravenous drug users.

    Report of the Committee on Legal Problems of the Homeless. Study of homelessness in New York City and recommendations to alleviate problems centered on three major areas: prevention of unwarranted evictions; preservation of existing housing stock; and building of new affordable housing.



    The Association elects its first Black president, Conrad K. Harper.


    The Association establishes Special Committee on Lesbians and Gay Men in the Legal Profession.

    The Association issues a report, “Federal Election Campaign Finance Reform,” which approves the concept of public financing of congressional campaigns, and reverses a 1984 report which opposed it. Also endorsed abolishing corporate and labor union PACs and limiting expenditures of other PACs, and regulating “soft money” not expressly spent on behalf of particular candidates.


    The Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee established the Annual Legal Services Awards.

  • 1991

    Formation of Legal Clinic for the Homeless, which has since trained hundreds of volunteer lawyers and served thousands of clients.


    The Association adopts “Statement of Goals of New York Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments for Increasing Minority Hiring, Retention and Promotion,” a forerunner of the “Statement of Diversity Principles” that is currently in force with over 160 signatory law firms and corporations.

    The City Bar launches Monday Night Law, providing the public with free in-person consultations with attorneys.


  • 1992

    International Human Rights Committee testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Followed in March 1992 by Recommendations on the Ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” and in April 1992 by “Supplemental Statement on Ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

    Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program is established, which provides summer jobs at law firms, corporate law departments, government law offices, and law schools to inner-city high school students.


    The Association issues a report, “Proposed Constitutional Amendment Providing for Direct Election of the President and Vice President of the United States.” The report was issued in the wake of the 1992 presidential election where there was as much as a twenty point difference between the popular vote and Electoral College tally.

    City Bar issues report, “The Ban on Military Service by Lesbians and Gay Men,” following its June 1993 letter to Senator Sam Nunn, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urging that the ban on military service by lesbians and gay men be lifted.

    The Association mobilizes volunteers to assist Chinese smuggled by human traffickers aboard the Golden Venture, which ran aground off of Queens.

    The City Bar Chorus is formed and makes its national debut on “CBS This Morning” singing a rendition of the show’s theme song, “Oh! What a Beautiful Morning.”



    The Association elects its first woman president: Barbara Paul Robinson.


    The Special Committee on Drugs & the Law issues its report “A Wiser Course: Ending Drug Prohibition” describing unintended consequences of drug prohibition policy, including continuing pervasive use of illegal drugs, overcrowding of court dockets and prisons, continued threats to public health and safety, and accumulation of wealth through the illicit drug trade, and urging new approach to drug policy focusing criminal sanctions on drug-related conduct that affects others.

    Association issues report “Equal Justice and the Non-English Speaking Litigant: A Call for Adequate Interpretation Services in the New York State Courts.”


    Formation of Council on Children.

  • 1997

    The Association issues a report calling for an international criminal court. Drafted by the International Law and International Human Rights Committees, the report’s recommendation that the court’s jurisdiction be limited to the core crimes that all nations agree are prohibited by international criminal law (war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide) became part of the Rome Statute.

    The SHIELD (Self-Help Information, Education and Legal Defense) Hotline launches with funding from the Interest on Lawyers Account Fund of the State of New York (IOLA) and the New York Community Trust.

    The Association issues report concluding that same sex marriage is legal in New York under (then) current law. It also argued that a failure to recognize same sex marriage would violate the equal protection clauses of the federal and state constitutions.


    The Association issues a report, “Recommendations on the Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”


    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gives a speech entitled, “Affirmative Action: An International Human Rights Dialogue.”

    The Lawyer Assistance Program is launched to help attorneys, judges, law students and their family members in New York City who are struggling with addiction or mental health issues.


    The Association advocates for reform of New York’s Rockefeller drug laws.


    The Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law is launched.