Richard Cassidy '78 has been elected to a two-year term as President of the Uniform Law Commission at the group's 124th annual meeting in Williamsburg, Va. The Commission, formally known as the National Conference of Law Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, was founded in 1892 in Saratoga Springs, New York.
The ULC is made up of some 350 lawyers, judges and law professors, each appointed by their own jurisdictions to develop uniform laws on subjects where the law should be the same or similar from state to state. It provides the states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are ULC member jurisdictions. The ULC is best known for promulgating the Uniform Commercial Code -- long the law in every state -- with its partner, the American Law Institute.
Uniform Laws, such as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act and the Anatomical Gift Act, have been adopted in virtually every state. Many other Uniform Acts have been widely adopted or significantly influenced state law. Through its work, the ULC has helped keep state statutory law fair and modern and helped to preserve the balance between state and federal law. In recent years the Conference has also worked to harmonize U.S. state law and international law.
Current ULC projects include the Uniform Act for the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking, and the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. A Social Media Privacy Act is in the drafting process, and projects on the Regulation of Drones and Driverless Cars are being studied.
Cassidy is only the second Vermont lawyer ever to lead the Commission, and is the first since George Brigham Young, who served from 1925 to 1927.
Cassidy credits his exposure to the Uniform Commercial Code as an Albany Law School student for sparking his interest in the Uniform Laws process. "At least in those days, Article 2 – the Sales Act – and Article 9, the Secured Transaction Act, were required courses for second year students," said Cassidy. "As I studied the UCC, it occurred to me that this was a far more rational way to create law than ordinary legislation or the adoption of common law by deciding individual cases, in which, notoriously, 'bad facts make bad law.' When Vermont Governor Howard Dean offered to appoint me to the Commission, I sprang at the chance to play a role in the ULC's careful law-making process. My 21 years as a Uniform Law Commissioner have been the most rewarding experience of my professional life."
Cassidy is a 1975 graduate of the University of Vermont. After graduating from Albany Law School in 1978, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Robert W. Larrow, Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court and then as chief law clerk to Chief Justice Albert W. Barney, Jr.
He entered private practice in 1980. A founder of Hoff Curtis in Burlington, Cassidy has practiced for 35 years in his home state, guided by the belief that the most effective representation and counsel derives from the most objective perspective that a legal professional can bring to the table.
Cassidy's broad legal experience includes personal injury litigation, labor and employment law and work as a mediator and arbitrator.
As member of the Panel of Early Neutral Evaluators for the United States District Court for the District of Vermont and those of the Vermont Environmental Court and Vermont Superior Courts, early this year he facilitated the settlement of a $35 million claim brought by Citibank against the City of Burlington arising from lease financing of Burlington Telecom.
Cassidy's election as ULC President is only the most recent chapter in a career of dedication to the legal system and the legal profession. He represents the Vermont Bar Association in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and chaired the ABA's Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. From 2005 to 2008, he was a member of the ABA Board of Governors. He was a longtime member and chair of the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners and is a director and former president of the American Counsel Association.
Since his initial appointment to the Uniform Law Commission, he has been reappointed four times by three successive Vermont Governors. He has since served in numerous roles with the Commission, including on the drafting committees on the Model Punitive Damages Act, the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act and the Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act, as well as the Scope and Program Committee. He chaired the Drafting Committee on the Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act and is a former Secretary of the commission and longtime member of its executive committee.
He resides in South Burlington, Vt., with his wife of 40 years, Becky Cassidy. He served 12 years on the South Burlington School Board and chaired the Board for six of those years.
He has received the Jonathon B. Chase Award of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont in 1990 and the ABA Grassroots Advocate Award in 2009. Cassidy is a member of the Democratic National Committee. He regularly serves as an acting judge in the Small Claims Division of the Chittenden Superior Court. He maintains a blog about the profession, OnLawyering.com.
By Michael Hochanadel