Charles Evans Hughes
Memorial Lecture History
On Nov. 8, 1948, the Board of Directors of the New York Country Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) established the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Lecture. Hughes Hubbard assumed sponsorship of the lecture series in 2007.
The Series was instituted by NYCLA to honor Justice Hughes for his "devotion to the betterment of the law and the maintenance of its supremacy," and "for his service as President of our Association where he endeared himself to us by his fine qualities of mind and heart, and as an inspiration to the members of our profession whose high ideals and noble traditions he upheld and strengthened throughout his long and distinguished career."
Few lawyers in the first half of the 20th century had a more distinguished career or a greater impact on the evolution of law and public policy. Charles Evans Hughes's service as Governor of New York State, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, presidential candidate, Secretary of State, Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice and Chief Justice of the United States reflected a lifelong dedication to the legal profession. Justice Hughes served as NYCLA's eighth president from 1919-1921, leaving to serve as United States Secretary of State upon his appointment by President Warren G. Harding. In 1930, Justice Hughes received his appointment as Chief Justice from President Herbert Hoover.
Chief Justice Hughes was reluctantly unable to attend the dedication ceremonies on May 26, 1930 because the Supreme Court was in session, but sent a message that President William Nelson Cromwell read to the gathering. In that message the Chief Justice illuminated the highest aspirations of the organized bar and the legal profession;
"As books and office furniture do not make a lawyer, so a library and reception halls do not make a bar association. The significance of such an association is found not merely in a common technique, but in the reinforcement of the standards of sound learning, loyalty to the law and fidelity to trust, and the readiness for expert public service, which have given a peculiar dignity to the profession of the law."
For more than half a century, the men and women who have delivered the Charles Evans Hughes Lecture have embodied those aspirations.
Hughes Hubbard & Reed gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Rick Kopstein and the New York Law Journal for the use of their photos.