On June 20, AABANY’s Judiciary Committee hosted a Q&A Panel at JAMS, in the New York Times Building, titled “How to Become an Elected Judge.” Judge John Z. Wang (NYC Housing Court) served as moderator. The panelists included Hon. Judy Kim (NYC Civil Court), Hon. Anthony Cannataro (NYS Supreme Court), and Suzanne Jacobson, political consultant. With insightful conversations that delved into the process of becoming a judicial candidate in New York, the event was an ideal opportunity for attendees, whether or not they aspire to be a judge in the future, to hear the speakers’ personal experiences and words of wisdom.

The panel discussion began with a consensus among all panelists that there is no “perfect” candidate. While experience in the courtroom as a clerk or litigator may be beneficial, such experience itself cannot be considered a sole factor for success. The panelists then engaged in a candid discussion on the challenging but necessary path to elected judgeship, which boils down to a handful of key steps: making a commitment to run, writing the application, passing the judicial screening panel, making yourself known to leaders and community members, and finally, winning the elections in this unique intersection of law and politics.

Suzanne, an expert in this field, stressed the importance of being active members of bar associations like AABANY, because the screening panels that conduct candidate interviews ultimately consist of representatives from bar associations and law schools whose voices can influence one’s chances of success. Along the same lines, Suzanne also stressed the benefits that candidates receive from being active members of other groups, including political clubs (i.e. Democratic Clubs) or community organizations, who will be the ones signing petitions and providing electoral support. The two judges, in addition, emphasized the need to seriously consider and understand the investments that one will be required to make throughout the process. They revealed that candidates will have to commit not only a substantial amount of time, but also money for membership dues, event tickets, and more. Justice Cannataro stressed that one’s willingness to make these investments and fully commit to the challenging process is often what matters most.

The panel event concluded with attendees and speakers mingling over an abundance of pizza and soft drinks. We thank JAMS for hosting this event by providing space and beverages. We would also like to thank our distinguished panelists and moderator for sharing their stories and advice with us.

To learn more about the Judiciary Committee and to get more active with them, see https://www.aabany.org/page/115? Their next Committee Meeting will take place on July 12. For more details and to register go to https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1122938