Revisiting Our Goals

Photo: Central segment of mural at Appellate Division, First Department Courthouse

We are now a few days into the new year, which is the perfect time to make some resolutions at the Society! But before we look forward, we want to look back and see what we’ve accomplished and how these accomplishments will guide us in 2019. Nine years have passed since we produced our About the Society video, which featured interviews with many people instrumental to the Society’s work, including founder Hon. Judith S. Kaye and president Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt. This video provided, and continues to provide, a brief overview of what the Society does to preserve, protect, and promote the legal history of New York. We discussed our work documenting and preserving courthouses, our publications, a potential museum, the David A. Garkfinkel Essay Scholarship, our programs and lectures, oral histories, and the broader context of New York law. What have we accomplished since we filmed this video in 2010? Let’s take a closer look!


Each year, the Society produces an issue of Judicial Notice, our journal which features articles written by those interested in New York’s legal history. The 2019 edition of Judicial Notice is currently in production, and is a special issue on Native American legal history in New York State.

Since 2010, we’ve streamlined the journal’s aesthetics to make it more readable, while staying true to the spirit of scholarly publications. We’ve expanded the articles we publish to include more diverse topics. We accept article submissions year-round, and our authors can submit their articles to other journals at the same time. This is excellent for authors who are passionate about their research and want to share as much as possible!

A Museum

We were very excited about the potential for a museum in 2010, but in the interim years, we realized that a dedicated space may not be in the cards for the Society. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t have exhibits! Through our partnership with the New York County Supreme Court, we’ve begun to prepare exhibits on the Society’s work in the 60 Centre Street Courthouse rotunda. We’ve started with displays highlighting our upcoming events, and plan to move into deeper explorations of New York’s legal history in 2019.

David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship

The David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship reached an important milestone in 2017: 10 years of excellent essays written by community college students across the State. Elijah Fagan-Solis won the first competition with his essay on the Lemmon Slave Case, entitled “The Courts and Human Rights in New York: The Legacy of the Lemmon Slave Case.” Our 2018 competition left us with the impression that we must recalibrate the scholarship, and develop new ways for students to share their knowledge. With that said, we’re taking 2019 off to brainstorm, and hope to be back in 2020 with a relevant, thought-provoking topic for students.

Over 10 years of the Garfinkel Essay Scholarship truly illustrates our dedication to educating students on the role of law and the courts in New York society. We are grateful for the continued support of Gloria and Barry Garfinkel, who created the scholarship in memory of their son David.

Public Programs

We continued our programmatic excellence from 2010 to 2018. Over that time frame, we hosted lectures on topics ranging from women pioneers in law, tours of our courthouses, and first Chief Justice of the Unite States John Jay. Our most recent program, produced in partnership with the Oneida Indian Nation, was Tribal Courts in New York: Case Study of the Oneida Indian Nation. Our presenters explored why Native American nations decide to develop their own court systems, basic laws that govern tribal court systems and jurisdiction, and how the NYS courts and tribal courts can interact and work together. All of our past programs are available online!

We’re also looking forward to events in 2019! Inspired by our 2018 Garfinkel Essay Scholarship topic, we will be holding an event on the topic of stolen art in the spring. You can also look forward to our Young Lawyers Series Cocktails & Commentary to continue to produce top-notch programs. It’s too early to discuss the details of these programs, but you can always check our upcoming events page for more information as it becomes available!

Oral Histories

To date, we have collected over 20 oral histories of New York State judges and legal luminaries. In 2018, we revamped the oral history section of our website and breathed new life into it. Many transcripts that were not online now are, and we are continuously working to make all of our transcripts accessible online. This way, we are able to share the experiences of some of New York’s most fascinating legal personalities from those personalities themselves!


Have we met our goals from 2010? We certainly think so, but there is still so much to do, and we can’t do it without the support of our members. Join the Society today to ensure that the legacy of law is preserved tomorrow. We’re looking forward to expanding upon the inspiring projects we’ve established and many more years of protecting New York’s legal history.

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