Our Story

In May 1978, ten people met in Professor Art Leonard’s living room and formed the New York Law Group, which met on a monthly basis for informal social gatherings. Art began publishing a newsletter, the “Law Group Notes,” reporting on lesbian and gay community events and legal developments.

The group grew and, in 1984, incorporated as the Bar Association for Human Rights. The name was changed to the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York in 1991, before becoming the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL) in 2006. Over the years our name has changed to better reflect the diversity of our mission, of our membership, and of the communities we seek to serve.

In 1994, the LeGaL Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, was formed with Erica Bell as its founding President. Through the Foundation, the organization publishes LGBT Law Notes, conducts several walk-in pro bono legal clinics, sponsors the Dr. M.L. Hank Henry, Jr. Fund for Judicial Fellowships, and, among its many other activities, runs the area’s only career fair dedicated to first-year LGBT law students.

1989 Manhattan Lawyer spread on BAHR gala