The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Buffalo attorney Lawrence J. Vilardo as a federal judge in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.
Vilardo’s nomination was confirmed by a vote of 88-0. He could be sworn in at any time now.
“Most of all, I am anxious to start working to chip away at the backlog of cases in the Western District,” said Vilardo in a statement, in which he also thanked President Obama, the Senate and Sen. Charles Schumer, who recommended him for the seat earlier this year.
Vilardo’s partner at Connors & Vilardo, LLP, Terrence M. Connors, praised Vilardo after the confirmation vote.
“Every lawyer starts a career hoping to fulfill a dream,” Connors said. Larry’s dream has now become a reality and we are very happy for him. He will be an excellent addition to our federal court bench.”
Schumer on Monday took to the Senate floor to congratulate and laud Vilardo before the vote.
“Mr. Vilardo is a classic Buffalonian,” Schumer said. “Hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, honest and grounded. … They love him in Buffalo. When this vacancy occurred, I heard the voices in Buffalo, all chanting, ‘Vilardo, Vilardo, Vilardo!’ Not just the legal community, but just about the whole community.”
Schumer also spoke about the situation in the federal courthouse in Buffalo, which had no active federal judge after former-Chief-Judge William M. Skretny and Judge Richard A. Arcara were elevated to senior status earlier this year.
“That will finally change now that Mr. Vilardo has been confirmed,” Schumer said. “He can now begin to hear cases and tackle the backlog that has been steadily building in the Western District.”
Vilardo is a founding partner of Connors & Vilardo in Buffalo. He is also a senior editor for the American Bar Association’s Litigation Journal. Prior to starting his own firm with Connors, Vilardo served as an appellate practice faculty member at SUNY Buffalo Law School and as a constitutional law faculty member at Canisius College’s School of Law.
Schumer recommended Vilardo for the judgeship to President Obama in August 2014. Obama nominated him for the position in February 2015, and Vilardo appeared before the senate Judiciary Committee in May 2015.
The vote to confirm Vilardo was delayed until Monday.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, blasted the delay of Vilardo’s confirmation vote in a statement released Monday.
“There is no reason why this highly-qualified nominee should have waited so long for a vote,” Leahy said. “The court has been staying afloat only through the voluntary efforts of two judges on senior status who are hearing cases in their retirement. … The glacial pace at which Republicans are currently confirming judicial nominees is an inexcusable failure to carry out the Senate’s constitutional duty of providing advice and consent.”
Before starting his own legal practice and working as a legal scholar, Vilardo was an associate at Damon & Morey, LLP. Following his graduation from law school, Vilardo clerked for the Honorable Irving L. Goldberg at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in Dallas, Texas.
Vilardo is a Buffalo native. He received his bachelor’s degree from Canisius College and graduated summa cum laude, and graduated from Harvard Law School with magna cum laude distinction. While in law school, he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.