VOLS mourns the loss of Louis A. Craco, VOLS Co-Founder and Past Board Chair

February 18, 2020

Louis A. Craco

With great sadness, VOLS announces that Louis A. Craco died on February 15 at the age of 86.

As President of the New York City Bar Association in 1984, Mr. Craco was a founding Board member of Volunteers of Legal Service, which was launched to provide pro bono civil legal services in New York City's underserved communities in response to federal budget cuts to legal services that year. His service on the VOLS Board of Directors continued for nearly 30 years as an active member, including for several years as Board Chair, and extended in Emeritus capacity until this year.

Following is a recognition statement of Mr. Craco's legal and civic leadership from his award of the New York State Bar Association's Gold Medal in 1984:

Louis A. Craco, who has spent a 55-year legal career promoting professionalism and ethics in the profession, has been honored with the New York State Bar Association’s highest honor, the Gold Medal.

State Bar President David M. Schraver of Rochester (Nixon Peabody) presented the 2014 award to Craco on Saturday, February 1, at the President’s Dinner during the association’s Annual Meeting in New York City.

The Gold Medal is presented annually to individuals in recognition of lifelong excellence in the legal profession and constructive contributions to civic and community matters.
“Mr. Craco has long been a leader in promoting the highest standards of ethics and professionalism in the legal community,” said Schraver. “His work has brought about changes in the legal profession that have become a staple in how every attorney in New York state practices law. We are honored to award him our Association’s highest award.”

Craco is perhaps best known in legal circles as chair of the Chief Judge’s Committee on the Profession and the Courts, which became known as the “Craco Committee.” The committee made several recommendations for reform in the legal profession, including requiring continuing legal education for attorneys admitted to practice in New York, standardizing grievance committee practices around the state, and creating a code of civility for attorneys.

Craco later served as the first chair of the New York State Judicial Institute on Professionalism in the Law, which was formed because of the committee’s recommendations. The institute promotes scholarship and attention to ethics and professionalism issues, sponsors forums and promotes public understanding of the role of lawyers in society.

In 1984, as president of the New York City Bar Association, Craco established the Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) of New York City, in which attorneys provide thousands of hours of pro bono services to needy New York City residents.

Craco worked as a litigation partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher from 1964 until his retirement in 2003. He is of counsel to Craco & Ellsworth in Huntington, NY. 

He received his LL.B. degree cum laude from New York University and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

Past winners of the State Bar’s Gold Medal include U.S. Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, William Brennan, Jr. and Sandra Day O’Connor; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; former New York state chief judges Judith S. Kaye and Sol Wachtler; former New York City prosecutor Robert Morgenthau, and last year’s winners, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, co-founders of The Innocence Project.

The New York State Bar Association, with 75,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.


The Craco family requests that those wishing to make memorial donations in Lou's memory consider the following organizations:

VOLUNTEERS OF LEGAL SERVICE 40 Worth Street, Suite 820 New York, NY 10013 | Click here to make a donation.

COLLEGE OF THE HOLY CROSS www.holycross.edu (In Memory of Louis A. Craco, Class of 1954)