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Our founders and the clients who have entrusted our firm with their legal needs have driven the history of Mackenzie Hughes LLP.  For more than a century, these people and clients have shaped two small local firms into the premier regional firm that Mackenzie Hughes is today.


1880 – 1890

  • William P. Gannon becomes a partner at Stone, Gannon and Petit.
  • Charles E. Spencer becomes an associate with the firm.

1900 – 1910

  • Mr. Gannon and Mr. Spencer join Willis H. Michell to form a partnership for the general practice of law named Gannon, Spencer & Michell.


  • D. Raymond Cobb, William A. Mackenzie and Lewis P. Smith form another firm, Cobb, Mackenzie and Smith.
  • The two firms merge and become Mackenzie, Smith, Lewis & Michell.
  • Mr. Lewis becomes Justice Lewis – the first of no fewer than eight lawyers from the firm to be elected or appointed to the Judiciary.


  • Mr. Mackenzie is appointed as both general counsel and as a director of the nationally renowned typewriter company, L.C. Smith & Corona Typewriters, Inc. The company becomes an important client to the young firm.
  • Mr. Michell serves on the Board of Directors of the Onondaga Savings Bank, nurturing a connection that would prove to be most significant to the firm.
  • Mr. Gannon serves as president of the Onondaga County Bar Association, the first of many Mackenzie partners.
  • John H. Hughes becomes partner, is elected as the majority leader of the New York State Senate, and is instrumental in the building of such cornerstone Central New York facilities as Upstate Medical Center and the New York State Office Building in Syracuse.


  • Unlike many others, the firm survives the Great Depression due to established clients such as Smith Corona, Syracuse Transit Authority and the several street railway companies.
  • Judge Lewis is appointed chief judge of New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. During his tenure the Court issued landmark rulings in the areas of product liability, corporate law and criminal procedure that form the foundation for today’s important legal principles.
  • The Real Estate and Banking Department grows exponentially in the post — World War II era due to an explosive demand for new construction; the firm becomes an early leader in land use and development law.
  • Mr. Hughes becomes New York State Senator Hughes.
  • The firm’s relationship with one of the most significant clients in its history, Onondaga Savings Bank, (later OnBank & Trust Co. and now M&T Bank) tightens with the firm handling all operational and finance representation.


  • The firm changes its name to Mackenzie, Smith, Lewis, Michell & Hughes in recognition of Senator Hughes’s significant leadership within the legal and political community.
  • Edmund H. Lewis serves as president of the New York State Bar Association.
  • Francis McCurn, the presiding justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, retires from the bench and joins the firm.


  • Mackenzie, Smith, Lewis, Michell & Hughes becomes a leading litigation firm in Central New York, attracting work from leading national and international companies including General Motors, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, and Travelers.
  • Mackenzie litigator Parker Stone is elected Syracuse City Court Judge, and later is elected New York State Supreme Court Justice.
  • Senator John Hughes, chairman of the firm, is elected majority leader of the New York State Senate. As majority leader, Senator Hughes pushes through the most sweeping reforms and improvements for urban renewal in New York history.
  • Carter H. Strickland takes a two-year leave of absence from the firm to serve as Chief Counsel to the New York State Commission on eminent domain, assuming a leading role in drafting New York’s current Eminent Domain Law. Strickland’s position places him among the leaders in the field of land appraisal for taxation purposes in New York State, and he is still recognized as a leader in tax certiorari litigation.
  • Mackenzie partner William Roy is elected New York State Supreme Court justice, and later is appointed chief administrative judge for the fifth judicial district, encompassing most of Central New York.
  • Neal P. McCurn, chairman of the firm’s litigation department, is elected delegate to the 1968 New York State Constitutional Convention, the last such convention to be held in the state.


  • Mackenzie litigator John F. Lawton is elected to the Onondaga County Legislature, and is subsequently elected chairman of the Legislature.
  • President Jimmy Carter nominates Neal P. McCurn to be a United States District Court Judge. McCurn later becomes Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.
  • Raymond W. Hackbarth becomes president of the Onondaga County Bar Association.
  • The John H. Hughes State Office Building in Syracuse – then one of the largest state office buildings in New York and the focal point for state government in Central New York, is re-named posthumously in honor of Senator Hughes, and today remains the John Hughes State Office Building.


  • Business lawyer Raymond W. Hackbarth assists the Onondaga Savings Bank through its most significant period of growth and is named “Distinguished Lawyer of the Year” by the Onondaga County Bar Association.
  • Litigator John F. Lawton is elected to the New York State Supreme Court; Governor Mario M. Cuomo subsequently appoints Lawton to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, where he continues to serve today.
  • Dennis R. Baldwin serves as president of the Onondaga County Bar Association.
  • David M. Garber, Corporation Counsel for the City of Syracuse and Director of the city’s Department of Law for a decade, joins the firm as a partner.
  • The firm celebrates its 100th Anniversary.
  • Litigator Peter N. Wells is elected Onondaga County Surrogate Court Judge.


  • Kevin M. Reilly serves as president of the Onondaga County Bar Association.
  • Dennis R. Baldwin is elected to the House of Delegates, and later vice president of the New York State Bar Association.
  • The book,  What Every Client Needs to Know About Using a Lawyer, publishes the nation’s best lawyers in the U.S., naming eight attorneys from Mackenzie Hughes:  Dennis R. Baldwin (land use and development); Clayton H. Hale (tax); Edward M. Moses (business); James H. O’Connor (estates and trusts); Gay M. Pomeroy (estates and trusts); Alfred W. Popkess (real estate); Carter H. Strickland (litigation); Jay W. Wason (litigation).


  • The firm changes its name to Mackenzie Hughes LLP to reflect the reorganization of the firm toward a simpler approach to doing business.
  • Ramon Rivera, a leading immigration lawyer and professor of immigration law at the Syracuse University College of Law, brings his immigration practice to Mackenzie Hughes and joins the firm as a partner.
  • Richard Engel, a leading securities lawyer, merges his securities law firm into Mackenzie Hughes and is elected to the partnership.
  • The firm is honored with the New York State Bar Association’s 2003 President’s Award, a statewide award given to the top law firm for excellence and commitment in providing legal services for the public good.
  • Dennis R. Baldwin is recognized with the Onondaga County Bar Association’s Distinguished Lawyer Award and the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division Pro Bono Award.
  • The prominent wealth management and estates law firm Hunter & Hartnett merges into Mackenzie Hughes, bolstering the firm’s practice to create the leading trusts, estates and wealth management firm in the region.  Elizabeth Hartnett joins the firm as a partner.
  • Ramon E. Rivera and Peter D. Carmen are appointed to the New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates.
  • Both the Onondaga County Bar Association and the New York Bar Association honored Anne B. Ruffer with pro bono service awards for her work with low income and in need residents.
  • Richard P. James is elected as Town Justice for the Town of Constantia.
  • Mayor Matt Driscoll appoints David M. Garber as the interim corporation counsel for the City of Syracuse.
  • Kenneth Ackerman retires from Mackenzie Hughes and volunteers as a teacher at the Syracuse Rescue Mission’s Motivational Learning Center.
  • Mackenzie Hughes opens an office in Boca Raton, Florida.
  • Ami Setright Longstreet elected to join the American College of Trust and Estate Council as a fellow, one of the most prestigious honors for a trust and estate attorney.
  • Mackenzie Hughes launches three new practice areas: public law and policy, economic development, and government grants.
  • Richard P. James is appointed to serve a three-year term as a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust.
  • Mackenzie Hughes celebrates its 125th anniversary by donating 125 hours each month to the community in 2010.
  • Anne B. Ruffer elected president of the Board of Directors at the Onondaga County Bar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Onondaga County Bar Association.
  • Elizabeth A. Hartnett elected chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Trusts and Estates section.
  • Stephen T. Helmer was the sole Syracuse representative on New York State Bar Association task force formed to analyze and present a report on the future of the legal profession in New York.
  • Ramon E. Rivera honored with the Chancellor’s Citation for Distinguished Achievement from Syracuse University for alumni who “attained unusual success in their chosen careers.”


Today, Mackenzie Hughes is a leading full-service law firm in Upstate New York, not only due to the cases won and expert counsel we provide, but also because of prestigious clients that continually place their trust in our hands. With clients like CNY Centro, C&S Engineers, Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital, Diocese, Empower Federal Credit Union, Key Bank, M&T Bank, Adirondack Bank, Oneida Indian Nation/Turning Stone Resort & Casino, O’Brien & Gere Engineers, SeaComm Federal Credit Union, Sisters of St. Francis, Stearns & Wheler, the Villages of Jordan and Manlius, we are proud to represent businesses and individuals who continue to shape our present, our future, and the way everyday people live in our community.

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