Administrative Judge Eighth Judicial District, New York State Courts
Years in current role: 11-plus
What do you enjoy most about your role?
We have over 800 people who work with us in the courts throughout the eight counties of Western New York. It is a joy to work with the many talented and diverse people in our court family. The best part of the job is the wonderful people I work with and we all seem to bring out the best in each other, or we try to anyways.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
Turning the court system from an all in-person to an all virtual system was a huge feat. There are 22 court buildings in our district, including 11 city courts and multiple treatment courts. Arraignments for all the town and village court cases were done remotely in one centralized courthouse in each of the eight counties by either a city court judge or superior court judge. The coordination of these efforts, the paperwork involved took a lot of work and that is an understatement.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the legal industry in the next 3-5 years?
Alternative dispute resolution has been in the works for many years, but I see it as having grown substantially with the virtual court model. It will be important for attorneys to know how to mediate as well as litigate. Practicing as an arbitrator or mediator should boom in the coming years. There will be more technology and less in person. Attorneys will need to embrace technology as will judges.
What advice would you give law students who are graduating this year?
Be prepared to change your expectations and career paths. The economic downturn in 2008 with the resulting foreclosure crisis opened up jobs in that field that were non-existent or nominal before then. The pandemic has cut off jury trials, so trial attorneys have not been doing trials. Cybersecurity and intellectual property will take off with the uptick in technology. There will be jobs in three years in fields you can’t imagine today. So, best advice, watch as things change around you, be open to change, see where your passion lies and pursue it.
What are you most looking forward to doing as COVID restrictions ease?
I want to hug people. It is probably not socially correct at this moment for people at work to hug, but there are so many wonderful people who have been working so hard and who have suffered losses this past year that I would love to give them a hug and thank them for all the hard work. We used to have in-person events and celebrations with our court family that we have been unable to do and I look forward to reviving those events and traditions. Outside of work of course we have large family dinners and get togethers, and I look forward to sharing the holidays with everyone again.