Plattsburgh, New york

Clinton County names new attorney, making history in the process

February 26, 2019

PLATTSBURGH | Jacqueline Kelleher has been named the new Clinton County Attorney.

Kelleher, 54, was unanimously appointed to the position Jan. 3 by the Clinton County Legislature.

“I was very honored to be given the opportunity,” Kelleher told The Sun. “I’ve worked with Clinton County Legislature as a labor attorney for the last 10 years, and when they approached me for this position I was very flattered.”

Kelleher currently serves as the attorney for the AuSable Valley, Beekmantown, Chazy, Crown Point, Keene, Moriah and Peru Central school districts.

She succeeds James Coffey, who stepped down Jan. 1 after serving the county for five years to spend with his family.

Kelleher is perhaps the first woman to ever serve as the legislature’s lead legal counsel.

County records dating back to 1934 showing the last 16 county attorneys list only men in the position.

Clinton County was founded in 1788, and the first woman admitted to the New York State Bar Association was Kate Stoneman, in 1886. (Stoneman’s application was initially rejected, but alongside a group of suffragettes she successfully lobbied the governor to sign a bill opening the Bar Exam to all genders.)

Kelleher has practiced law for 25 years.

She is a member of a variety of local organizations, including the United Way of the Adirondack Region, the Clinton County Bar Association, the New York State School Boards Association and the New York State Association of School Attorneys.

She’s a graduate of Georgetown University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree. She also graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law with her juris Doctorate Degree. She was admitted to practice by the state Bar in 2000, the same year that she began working at the Plattsburgh-based law firm Stafford Owens, where she is now a partner.

“When I was in kindergarten, at 5 years old, was when they just stared opening up the elite male colleges to women,” Kelleher said. “I was in the 12th class of women at Georgetown.

“There’s a lot of women behind me that paved the way for all the opportunities I’ve had. And I try to do the same for the women coming up behind me.”

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