TheArthur A. Duncan II, Esq.
“When I was in my 20’s, I did not have any dreams and my goal was to make money and get it however I could. I did not care about my future, all I cared about was “now” and that lifestyle eventually put me in prison. When I got out of jail and went back to school, settled down and got married, I began to think about my future goals and dreams.” Thearthur “Tone” Duncan II has righted his wrongs and became an inspiration to everyone in the process.
Born in Los Angeles, California’s South Central neighborhood, growing up Tone split time between living with his mom in Los Angeles and his grandparents in downtown Buffalo. Tone shares “In Los Angeles we moved around a lot so I didn’t get to know anyone and I didn’t really like it. However, in Buffalo, my grandfather owned five houses on our street that my family lived on, so I was very comfortable here in Buffalo.” Tone’s grandfather was a Pastor, so he spent a lot of time in church growing up in Buffalo. As a child Tone was very smart, carrying a 98 average throughout grade school. After he graduated from 8th grade in Buffalo, Tone went back to Los Angeles for high school. A great relationship with his mom and grandparents started to shift as he became older and started running the streets.
Tone attended Westchester High School in Los Angeles, CA. Self conscious due to being skinny, dark-skinned, with braces and bad acne, Tone was not sociable during school. Despite his personal issues, Tone maintained good grades and was a member of the Westchester H.S. basketball team that beat the historic Crenshaw H.S. during his senior year. Going to school in South Central, in the middle of gang culture definitely affected Tone. Tone recalled one of his worst memories during high school, he states“I was coming home from basketball practice and a crip put a knife to my throat on the bus and made me give him my Lakers starter jacket.” After high school, Tone came back to Buffalo and attended Erie Community College for a semester before dropping out to run the streets. After spending time in prison, Tone returned back to ECC 15 years later. After ECC, Tone graduated from UB and completed his first year of law school at Cleveland State, followed by UB Law however it wasn’t that easy.UB Law rejected Tone three times before finally getting accepted and getting to complet his last two years of law school. Perseverance, determination and the help of Dr. Gene Grabiner at ECC was very instrumental in Tone becoming a lawyer. Dr. Grabiner helped research whether Tone could become a lawyer with a felony and he wrote letters of recommendation to help him get into UB undergrad and law school.
A major challenge to Tone becoming a lawyer was the fact that he was a convicted felon with a wife and five kids. Tone took a leap of faith attending school with no guarantee whether New York State was going to allow Tone to practice law due to his felony. Several years later after working as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Buffalo Tone opened up his own law firm. Now a typical day for Tone includes several court appearances for clients in different courtrooms and jurisdictions. With an understanding that your past mistakes do not define you and that everyone deserves a second chance, Tone didn’t allow excuses to prevent him from being the best he could be. His career and journey have inspired many people to become successful in life despite having a criminal record. Documenting his journey, Tone wrote and published his own autobiography Felon-Attorney. Thearthur “Tone” Duncan II has plans to write and publish more books as well as a 2021 campaign to run for Buffalo City Court Judge. According to Tone, “I want my legacy to be that I was a God-fearing upright man, a great father and husband, a lawyer that cared deeply about his clients, a great example of a man who changed and overcame adversity, an author and great motivational speaker that inspired many and made a difference.”