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History of the WNYTLA

The Association was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization entitled Western New York Trial Lawyers Association, Ltd. in July 2003; however, its history dates to the 1960s. The New York jury system came under sustained attack and one purpose of the organization was to preserve the jury system for civil litigation. In the early 1970s, the Association concentrated on No-Fault Insurance and regulations instituted in New York State. Throughout the 1970s, the civil trial dockets were overwhelmed and the Association created and ran the Buffalo City Court Arbitration Program, which disposed of over 6,000 civil cases in that decade, until the formation of the Supreme Court ADR program in the 1980s. Many of the Association arbitrators have continued to function as independent mediators and arbitrators through the present. In the 1980s and 1990s, the main focus of the Association was to support the current tort system, find ways of relieving congested court calendars, and provide advice on maintaining and improving the civil tort system to ensure fairness and justice during periods of reform. During the 2000s, the Association has been involved in supporting the judiciary when it came under attack, preservation of the Martin Violante ADR Program, addressing the fairness of national court reporting services, providing advice regarding proposed reforms limiting recovery for victims of personal injury, supporting mock trial/trial technique programs, promoting the highest ethical standards, and encouraging civility in the practice of law.

The first directors of the Association when it was incorporated in 2003 were Patrick J. Brown, Michael J. Roach, Paula M. Eade Newcomb, Christopher J. O'Brien, Mary Q. Wydysh, and Keith N. Bond.  Directors continue to serve for a three year term, with two elected each year at the January meeting. The Association has sought to maintain a balance between plaintiff/prosecution and defense; the position of president has generally alternated each year. The summer meeting typically involves an ethics CLE sponsored by the Association, followed by a social gathering.   

The Association initially was actively engaged in lobbying; however, that effort diminished over time and was formally discontinued in 2011. The Association's focus is professional matters in line with its not-for-profit mission to promote trial advocacy and civility in the practice of law. Members of the Association regularly volunteer to act as judges and evaluators at mock trials at the high school, college and law school levels. The Association has financially supported these and other programs for many years and has made long-term commitments to continue financial support into the future.

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