Two well-known lawyers in Capital Region legal community die

ATTORNEY

ALBANY — The Capital Region’s legal community has lost two longtime prominent figures whose combined experience spanned more than a century.

James Long, 71, an Albany attorney for 44 years who specialized in criminal defense, election law and labor law and had a stint as Albany County’s public defender, died in Mount Pleasant, S.C. on March 7. Six days earlier, James M. Conboy, 94, who spent six decades at Carter Conboy, the former Albany law firm co-founded by his father in 1920 and which closed in 2020, passed away.

The loss of the attorneys, both known as “Jim,” were noted in obituaries that said both men were surrounded by family at the time of their deaths. Conboy was a great-grandfather, Long a grandfather.

Long, an Albany native and orphan by 17 left to raise his younger brother, graduated from the Vincentian Institute, University at Albany and eventually the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law. He became an attorney in 1979.

“I’ve been an underdog my whole life,” Long said in 2016 as he launched a campaign for Albany City Court.

While unsuccessful in that bid, Long experienced no shortage of success in the courtroom, where he took more than 100 cases to verdict, and in the state Capitol, where he was commissioner of the New York State Bill Drafting Commission. Long also served as a law clerk for late state Supreme Court Justices Paul Cheeseman and Daniel Prior and Albany County Surrogate Raymond Marinelli.

Long’s obituary recalled his love for the law, New York politics and the community that it provided him. It described Long as a brilliant legal mind, eloquent writer and outstanding storyteller who helped countless people get back on track from “rock bottom.”

Long was an election attorney for Albany County District Attorney David Soares. In a statement, Soares told Law Beat: “Jim was a mentor for many law practitioners from my generation. His sharp mind was regularly sought as counsel for judges and lawyers in need of guidance. I myself was among those who sought his expertise. He was the voice on the other end of the phone when I needed a friend and old-fashioned wisdom. We’ve lost a Giant of a man.”

Rensselaer County Judge Jennifer Sober, to whom Long was a mentor, told Law Beat that Long was widely respected for his keen legal mind, but also the generosity of his time.

“He would always help any lawyer that needed help,” Sober said. “He helped anybody that he could.”

State Sen. Neil Breslin, a close friend of Long, told Law Beat that he knew the attorney dating to their younger years in Albany. Long’s daughter, Darcy Green, interned in college with Breslin and later became the senator’s chief of staff. She is now an attorney; Darcy Green and her husband, Michael, have a daughter, Madeline.

“In my 50 years of practicing law, I’ve never met a lawyer so capable yet so humble at the same time,” Breslin said, referring to Long.

Following in father’s footsteps

Breslin also knew Conboy; he worked for a time at Carter Conboy alongside future Appellate Justice Eugene “Gus” Devine.

Asked about Conboy, the senator told Law Beat: “His reputation was just the perfect gentleman. You couldn’t draw up a better person to represent the legal profession in general. Always with a smile. I saw a couple of his trials where I thought he was artful, but what impressed the most was that his representation of our profession was so good.”

Conboy, a Cohoes native, attended Kevney Memorial Academy in Cohoes and Christian Brothers Academy in Colonie before attending St. Michael’s College in Vermont. Conboy, who played football at St. Michael’s, went to New York Law School, graduating in 1958, after his attorney father persuaded him not to coach baseball.

That was after Conboy served in the Army in Korea during the Korean War.

He followed in the steps of his father, M. James Conboy, who started his firm in 1920 with “nothing more than a handshake” with original partner J. Stanley Carter. The elder Conboy had set up shop on Remsen Street in Cohoes, then expanded to Albany in 1927. In 1992, the firm moved to the Corporate Woods office off Interstate 90.

Conboy and Carter’s son, James S. Carter, expanded their fathers’ law practice for decades.

“We’re known as trial lawyers who are not afraid to litigate,” Conboy once told the Times Union. “My parents pushed me to go into the law and I’m happy they did. My dad told me that outstanding preparation of the law is paramount. He also told me to remain calm and never lose your cool in the courtroom. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to blow off a little steam at a trial.”

In 1952, Conboy met Jeanne Vaill, a nurse, on a blind date. They were married in 1955, raising five children, and remained together until his wife’s death in 2021.The obituary highlighted trips to Lake George, Cape Cod and Saratoga Racetrack among Conboy’s interests, as well as him being a parishioner for almost 60 years St. Pius X Church in Loudonville.

The decision to become a lawyer paid off – Conboy’s career included being honored with the New York State Bar Association’s Professionalism Award in 2004. The honor is for attorneys who demonstrate the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism and a commitment to the practice of law.

“Jim cut a distinguished figure in the court room,” the obituary stated. “Outside the court room Jim paired his classic button-down collared shirt with his favorite shoes, moccasins and, yes, he wore them on the treadmill. Jim loved his morning papers, a good book, a debate, baseball, Judy Garland and Willie Mays. But most of all he loved being with his wife, children and life-long friends.”

 

 

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