LeGaL was one of the nation’s first bar associations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) legal community and remains one of the largest and most active organizations of its kind in the country.
LeGaL began as a social organization. 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. In September 1991, the name was changed to the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York. 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, the most comprehensive monthly publication summarizing legal developments affecting the LGBT community here and abroad. The Foundation also conducts a weekly walk-in pro bono clinic at Manhattan's LGBT Community Center serving hundreds of individuals each year, along with a similar clinic in Newark and a Youth Clinic with Sanctuary for Families, 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.