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Letro receives Edwin F. Jaeckle Award

Letro receives Edwin F. Jaeckle Award

For many lawyers, awards and accolades aren't why they do what they do. But for Buffalo personal injury attorney Francis Letro, last week was special.

Letro, class of '79, was in New York City to receive the annual Edwin F. Jaeckle Award - the top honor given by SUNY Buffalo Law School and the Law Alumni Association. Named for Jaeckle, class of 1915, it recognizes individuals who distinguish themselves through significant contributions to the Law School and the profession at large.

"When you have been around as long as I have, there are many verdicts, settlements and appeals but there is only one Jaeckle Award," said Letro, a well-known philanthropist.

He cited his perception of his alma mater as a factor not only in his own life but far beyond that as the reason for being an active alumni.

"The law school has been of vital importance not just to Buffalo but to the entire state," he said. "It has a special place in legal education as the only public law school in the state."

Law School Dean Makau Mutua said he was delighted to honor Letro with the Jaeckle Award.

"Fran Letro has been instrumental in the successes our school has achieved in recent years," Mutua said. "SUNY Buffalo Law School has no better friend, and I count Fran among those whose opinions and wise counsel I value most highly."

Letro, who limits his practice to personal-injury cases, is a native of Olean and earned his undergraduate degree from George Washington University. He has held leadership positions in professional organizations on the national, state and local levels. For 20 years he has been a board member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.

He also is an active member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and the Bar Associations of Erie, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

He is a frequent lecturer for national, state and local bar associations, as well. He speaks to lawyers and judges about trial practice and procedure, and at continuing legal education seminars and practice skills programs across the state. He also has served as a member of several statewide and local judicial screening panels for sitting judges.


Letro was just 7 years old when his father, a foreman for the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, lost a leg in a railway accident. Seeing his family devastated by the tragedy, the elder Letro retained an attorney who secured a settlement.

"I remember my father's enormous respect, admiration and gratitude for the lawyer who represented him," he said.

He credits that experience at such a young age for leading him to eventually pursue a legal career.

Letro is a longtime member of the Dean's Advisory Council at the Law School and serves as vice chair. The school's first-floor working courtroom was named after him in recognition of a $1 million gift in 2002 from Letro and his wife, Cindy Abbott Letro. He also is a past recipient of the SUNY Buffalo Law Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Amid speculation about UB 2020 and the role of the university in the resurgence of Western New York, Letro said that from where he sits, the two are inseparable.

"I see it as what I call a cross-pollination," he said. "The Law School has been integrated with the entire university and the university is integrated with the community. President (Satish) Tripathi and Dean Mutua both see the importance of integration and the benefits to everyone."

Letro's philanthropy and other support extends to such community mainstays as Erie County Medical Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo State College, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Darwin Martin House Restoration Project, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boy Scouts.


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