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Judge Graffeo joins Harris Beach

Former state Court of Appeals Judge Victoria A. Graffeo has joined the Albany office of Harris Beach PLLC.Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo

A new partner, she will lead the Alternate Dispute Resolution Practice Group and practice in the Government Compliance and Investigations, Appellate Litigation and Advocacy, and the Business Commercial Litigation practice groups.

James A. Spitz Jr., Harris Beach CEO and partner, said Judge Graffeo brings significant trial and appellate knowledge to the various practice groups.

“We are proud that Judge Graffeo has chosen to continue her law career at Harris Beach,” said Philip G. Spellane, managing partner of the Rochester office. “Her extensive experience throughout three different judgeships and experience in state government brings an invaluable perspective to the firm and our clients.”

Judge Graffeo joined the state’s highest court in December 2000 and ended her 14-year term in November as senior associate judge.

“After 14 years on the bench at the Court of Appeals, I am eager to begin this new stage of my career at a firm as highly respected across New York state as Harris Beach,” said Judge Graffeo.

She had been nominated to the New York State Court of Appeals by then-Gov. George E. Pataki and was confirmed by the state Senate on Nov. 29, 2000. She has authored more than 250 civil and criminal majority opinions of the court.

In April 1998, she was designated to serve as an associate justice of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court in the Third Judicial Department. In September 1996, Judge Graffeo was appointed to fill a justice vacancy on the Supreme Court in the Third Judicial District and was elected to a full term of office commencing Jan. 1, 1997.

From January 1995 to September 1996, Judge Graffeo served as solicitor general and counsel to the state attorney general.  As solicitor general, she managed the state’s federal and state appellate litigation and the rendering of attorney general Opinions to state agencies and municipalities.
Judge Graffeo had responsibility for the review and approval of more than 1,000 briefs and motions to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, state Court of Appeals and the appellate divisions of the state Supreme Court.

Her judicial appointments included chair of the New York State-Federal Judicial Council, chair of the Advisory Committee on the Pro Bono Scholars Program, co-chair of the Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements, chair of the Advisory Committee on Pro Bono Service By In-House Counsel In New York State, Court of Appeals Liaison to the New York State Board of Law Examiners and member of the American Bar Association’s Legal Education and Bar Admission Section.

Previously, Judge Graffeo had a number of posts in state government from 1982 to 1994, including a brief period in a private practice she started. She served as chief counsel to the state Assembly minority leader, counsel to the Assembly minority leader pro tempore and assistant counsel of the state Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.  She began her legal career as a litigation associate in an Albany law firm.

Judge Graffeo is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the Albany County Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, and is past president of the Capital District Chapter. She is vice president of the Capital District Italian-American Bar Association. She is also a fellow of the New York State Bar Foundation and serves on Albany Law School’s National Alumni Council. She received her juris doctor degree from Albany Law School and her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oneonta.