Photo: Jeanine Anderson turned to Hiscock Legal Aid during a particularly difficult period in her life — after recovering from addiction. Her lawyer helped her gain more visitations with her daughter. “I have my family and I never take them for granted any more. I have earned my way back to my little girl.”
Judge Frank Harris Hiscock devoted much of his life to practicing law and philanthropy. He had a powerful desire to assist the less fortunate and improve the quality of life in Syracuse and its surrounding areas. His legacy continues to make an impact through the work of Hiscock Legal Aid Society, an organization established by a gift from his will.
In 1855, his father, L. Harris Hiscock — a Surrogate Court judge and state assemblyman — and his uncle, Frank Hiscock — a United States senator — partnered to establish the law firm now known as Barclay Damon, one of the oldest and largest firms in Syracuse.
The younger Frank joined the law firm in 1877. He later served as chief justice of the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. Throughout his career he was an active participant and supporter of his community, including serving as one of the Community Foundation’s founders when it was established in 1927.
He made a provision in his will to donate his home on James Street in Syracuse to the Community Foundation. This well-known property was sold to the Corinthian Club after his death and the proceeds were used to establish the Hiscock Legal Aid Society. The organization opened its offices on South Warren Street in 1949 to provide quality legal assistance free of charge to Onondaga County residents who could not afford to hire private legal counsel.
The organization now serves as a legal advocate for domestic violence victims and offers services to address immigration, family court, civil, appeals, parole revocation and extradition matters. Its 60 attorneys and staff members work tirelessly to provide underserved individuals and families with access to high quality legal counsel. In 2016, the organization handled nearly 4,000 cases.
Thanks to Judge Hiscock’s generosity, the organization continues to enrich the community today, nearly 70 years since his vision was turned into a reality.
“In making the bequest that enabled the creation of the Legal Aid Society, Judge Hiscock put into action the belief that no person should be denied access to justice because of a lack of means,” said Society president & CEO, Linda Gehron.
“I imagine he would be pleased that people like him continue to support our mission to uphold the fundamental human rights that are basic to any democracy.”
Through his thoughtfulness, Judge Hiscock’s commitment to social justice has helped generations of Central New York residents find their voices through the support of legal counsel.