November 06, 2020 Feature

From Bench to Bar: Transitioning Judges’ Contributions to the Practice of Law

By Lisa M. Geary

I had the great fortune to clerk for three appellate judges before entering private practice. Two of those judges retired from the bench immediately after my clerkship ended—one by choice, the other by mandatory retirement. Because I had clerked for them at the end of their tenures as appellate judges, I witnessed firsthand their transitions off the bench. The transitions looked nothing like what I had thought of as “retirement.” Like many who have transitioned off the bench, my judges entered invigorating new chapters of their careers that were tailormade for the skills they had honed and the respect they had earned as distinguished appellate jurists. One left the bench to pursue a career in private practice at a major law firm, traveling the world as an expert in New York law and advising clients on appeals and other complex commercial cases; the other rejoined the state trial court bench and served as a third-party neutral who resolved a major backlog of cases that had stagnated in the court system for years.

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