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2013 Chesterfield Smith Award – Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman

Hon. Jonathan Lippman

Chief Judge Jonathan LippmanJudge Jonathan Lippman was appointed to serve as the Chief Judge of the State of New York and Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals in February 2009.  In that capacity, he presides over New York’s highest court while heading a statewide court system with a more than $2 billion budget, nearly 3,400 state and locally paid judges, and more than 15,000 non-judicial employees in more than 350 locations around the State.

During his tenure on the Court of Appeals, Judge Lippman has authored major decisions addressing constitutional, statutory and common law issues shaping the law of New York, the contours of state government, and the lives of all New Yorkers.  As the state’s Chief Judge he has championed many issues of central concern to the courts and the Bar, including equal access to justice, state funding for civil legal services for the poor, juvenile justice, the provision of adequate indigent criminal defense services, wrongful convictions, and the increased numbers of foreclosure cases entering the courts.  Recently, Judge Lippman made New York the first state in the country to require 50 hours of law-related, uncompensated pro bono work prior to bar admission.

From May 2007 until his appointment as Chief Judge, Judge Lippman was the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Department.  In that capacity, he dramatically reduced the court’s pending backlogs and served on the Administrative Board of the Courts, the policy and rule making body of the New York State Court System.

Judge Lippman’s career in the court system spans four decades, starting as an entry level court attorney in Supreme Court and including service as a law clerk in Supreme Court and Surrogate’s Court, Principal Court Attorney for Supreme Court, New York County, Civil Term, Chief Clerk and Executive Officer of that court, Judge of the New York Court of Claims, Justice of the Supreme Court for the Ninth Judicial District, Associate Justice of the Appellate Term, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts, and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Management of the statewide court system.

From January 1996 to May 2007, he served, by appointment of then-Chief Judge Judith Kaye, as the Chief Administrative Judge of all New York State Courts.  As the longest tenured Chief Administrative Judge in state history, Judge Lippman played a central role in many far-reaching reforms of New York’s Judiciary and legal profession, including community courts, drug courts, domestic violence courts, and other problem-solving courts; specialized commercial and matrimonial parts; overhauling the state’s jury system; opening Family Court to the public; and adopting new rules governing fiduciary appointments; mandatory continuing legal education, attorney-client fee dispute arbitration, and written letters of engagement.

Judge Lippman is a member of the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Judges, and a former president of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) and Vice-Chair of the Board of the National Center for State Courts.  Judge Lippman lectures frequently in New York and around the country, has published numerous articles and essays, and has received many awards and honors from the legal community.

Judge Lippman received his B.A. in 1965 from New York University and his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1968.