In the Beginning...

The firm of Karpinski, Stapleton & Tehan, P.C. traces its roots to a proud tradition of legal service to the community, county, and, indeed, Central New York, that spans several generations.

Many of the firm's clients have continued with the firm over the passing of these generations, some in a corporate capacity and some as younger generations of the same family. The firm has grown with the needs of each succeeding generation and each successor in interest has changed with the dictates of the times.

Frederick Wills practiced law in this community in his office on the second floor of the Auburn Savings Bank Building from 1914 to 1964. He represented two substantial lending institutions in those days, the Farm Credit System and The Savings and Loan Association of Auburn, and many of the prominent old-line families of the community. He was also well-known for his position as the County Attorney from 1924 through 1940 and town attorney for many of the growing townships in the county. Fred Wills died in 1964.

In 1935, John J. Karpinski joined the Wills Law Office, upon his graduation from Syracuse Law School. John learned his trade well and became widely known and respected as a talented, conscientious, and honest practitioner, with a special expertise in real estate and estate matters. On January 1, 1940, he was appointed Auburn City Clerk and held that position until June 1943, when he was appointed City Manager. He served in that capacity until December, 1943. John was elected Special Surrogate Judge for Cayuga County from January, 1948 to December, 1959, a part-time position allowing him to continue his practice. He earned the respect and continued patronage of Fred Wills' clientele and added substantially to this base during his forty years of practice. The First National Bank of Aurora, now known as The Cayuga Lake National Bank, became his client in 1960 and he served on its board of directors, as well as the board of The Savings and Loan Association of Auburn, until his sudden and untimely death on May 10, 1975.

In August of 1967, T. David Stapleton, Jr. joined the law office of his father-in-law, which was still on the second floor of the Auburn Savings Bank Building. At that time the two lawyers had the benefit of the services of Betty Bakke, as the only secretary; she had been with John since 1962. Thereafter, Nancy Quinn joined the staff in 1969.

In February of 1971, John A. Karpinski was admitted to the practice of law in New York State after legal service with VISTA in Detroit and joined the practice with his father.

Upon the death of John J. Karpinski, the firm of Karpinski & Stapleton was formed as a partnership. Three years later, a professional corporation was formed in January, 1978, using the name of Karpinski & Stapleton, P.C. At that time the two lawyers had a staff of six, including Betty and Nancy.

The Savings and Loan Association of Auburn elected both John and David to its Board of Directors in June, 1975. In 1980, the Association merged voluntarily with the Onondaga Savings Bank of Syracuse and a Cayuga Region was formed with an Advisory Board, on which John and David continued to serve. In June, 1986, David was elected to the Board of Onondaga Savings Bank in Syracuse, later becoming Onbancorp, Inc. In 1998, Onbancorp merged with M & T Bank, headquartered in Buffalo, New York.

In September, 1980, Mark H. Fandrich joined the firm and the office moved from the Bank building to the fifth floor of the Metcalf Plaza. The firm became known as Karpinski, Stapleton & Fandrich, PC and broadened its reputation in various areas of the practice to include litigation, particularly personal injury, major commercial and bankruptcy matters, in addition to its concentration in estates and real estate. Mark was elected to the Auburn City Council in 1989 and served on Council until 1993. Mark was elected Cayuga County Surrogate Court Judge in November of 2001 and resigned from our office to assume his judgeship on January 1, 2002.

In November, 1996, the firm moved to the site of its present suite of offices on the second floor of the Genesee 110 Building.

David G. Tehan joined the firm on January 1, 2002. David brought with him six years of legal experience with another local firm and also as a corporation counsel for the City of Auburn.

We are mindful and appreciative of our legal roots and the generations that have preceded us. Their efforts and reputations have set the standards of integrity and client service to which we strive in the daily practice of our profession.