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May 10, 2012

 

Law firm expands with ‘meeting of minds’

Criminal law attorneys branch out into civil law with connection to longtime practice

LawJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland attorneys Randolph Kruman and Beth O’Connor, seated, bought Don and Margo Yager’s law office at 15 Church St. recently to expand their practice. Their families have a history in Cortland going back to the Cortland University Club in the 1930s.

By ANTHONY BORRELLI
Staff Reporter
aborrelli@cortlandstandardnews.net

At a time when veteran attorney Donald Yager was looking to slow down, attorneys Randolph Kruman and Beth O’Connor wanted to pick up their pace.
The Yager family has practiced law at 15 Church St. since the 1960s. Today, Donald Yager’s work involves issues like real estate and wills — the same areas Kruman and O’Connor wanted to expand into.
Now the Yager office is changing hands, so to speak. Last month, Kruman called Yager and pitched a plan. Yager and his wife, Margo, were on board.
Kruman and O’Connor, whose focus in recent years was in criminal and family courts, moved into the Church Street office earlier this month after buying the building from the Yagers.
“It’s new, it’s different,” Kruman said. “I was afraid I was becoming too narrow, too focused in one area.”
Now that they are under one roof, Yager will help them gain a foothold in the areas of civil law that have become his specialty.
“I think it was really the timing of it, we were looking to expand at the same time the Yagers were looking to slow down,” O’Connor said. “We’re still separate firms.”
Yager says he is happy to help them, since he followed a similar path of branching out when he worked with his father, Don Yager Sr.
“One of the beauties about the law practice is you evolve in it, and I think that’s where Van (Kruman) and Beth are — they’re evolving within the law system,” Yager said.
An added bonus was the pleasant surprise of rediscovering their two families go way back, Yager said, Kruman’s grandfather Van Miller, great-uncles Chester Wickwire and Charles Wickwire were friends with Yager’s father, dating back to the 1930s.
Both families had sporadic encounters over the years. More noteworthy was their common association with the Cortland University Club, a group for men who went to a university.
It included many of Cortland’s community leaders in a time when not everyone received higher education. The club still exists today.
“We started cleaning our personal stuff out of the office and these pictures popped up and we realized that over these many years, there’s been these relationships between the families,” Yager said.
Kruman and Yager say their collaboration is more a “meeting of the minds,” and not a partnership. It would not have happened unless “it felt right,” Yager said.
In the meantime, Yager has no immediate plans to step aside from his legal work, but is looking forward to slowing his pace a little. He has been an attorney since 1966.
His father bought the Church Street office in 1962. A window of his old office on Main Street still bears the Yager name painted on an upper window.
Davis practiced law for a time with C. Leonard O’Connor, one of Kruman’s relatives.
Yager and his brother George worked together as lawyers with their father until he died in 1984 at age 80. George Yager retired 10 years later.
“Then I bought him out, and as you can see, I’m still here,” Donald Yager said.

 

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