A Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY)


Interview of the Month


An Interview with Honorable Larry Schwartz

Susan L. Pollet
Chair of the Archive and Historian Committee


Q:  Please tell us about your legal career.

 A: I began my career in the early 1980s as an Assistant District Attorney in the Rockland County DA’s office. After leaving the District Attorney’s office, I was a partner and principal of Klinger & Schwartz in Haverstraw, New York where my practice included criminal defense and civil litigation.

      While in private practice, from 1998 until taking the bench this year, I served as a part-time assistant public defender at the Rockland County Public Defender’s office. I was an active member of the Rockland County Drug Court team and served on the board of the Rockland County Drug Court Executive Committee. In 1993, I became a founding partner of Schwartz & Silverstein LLP in New City where I maintained a varied practice until this past December.


Q: Why did you become a judge?

A: The thought of becoming a judge appealed to me from my earliest days as a practicing attorney. I’ve always believed the courtroom should be an orderly and dignified place where the voices of all participants are heard. As an attorney, I saw the difference that reasoned and patient judges made in the outcome of a case. I wanted to make that difference.

      After practicing law for over three decades, I saw taking the bench as a unique opportunity to embrace the challenge of applying my legal experience in a different and meaningful way.

 

Q:  What community activities are you involved in?

A: I have been involved in several legal and community organizations throughout Rockland County. I’m currently a member of the board of directors and former secretary of the board for the Rockland County Bar Association. In addition, I am a member of the board of directors and former president of Community Awareness Network for a Drug-Free Life and Environment (CANDLE), a youth organization in Rockland County. I also serve on the board of directors of the Rockland Conservatory of Music.

Q:  How have you balanced your work and family life over the years?

A: It was always a challenge to balance work and family life. The biggest advantage I had was that I always practiced in the same community in which I lived. Even though I often worked long hours, the proximity of my offices to my home frequently enabled me to adjust my schedule so I could attend school events and my children’s activities. I was always mindful of the importance of family and strove to make my family a priority.

Q:  What advice do you have for new lawyers entering the profession, and for seasoned lawyers continuing in it?

A:  My advice for new lawyers is to find ways to distinguish themselves and develop skills and knowledge bases that are unique and in demand. I also recommend they develop meaningful relationships in the legal community and seek advice from experienced practitioners.

      I also would encourage new lawyers to join bar associations. It’s so much more enjoyable to practice law as a part of a community than from the solitude of your office.

      Seasoned lawyers probably do not need advice from me. But I will offer the reminder that we should all continue to make our health and well-being a priority. It is too easy to become so engulfed in our work that we forget to take proper care of ourselves. The more we neglect ourselves, the less we can attend to the needs of others, whether they are clients, family, or friends.


Q: You were recently elected County Court Judge in Rockland County but are sitting in Westchester. How are you enjoying your assignment in White Plains?

A: When I first arrived in White Plains, I knew almost no one. Everyone in the courthouse who I work with, without exception, has been helpful and supportive. I am also quite impressed by the Westchester bar. I have found almost all the attorneys to be quite knowledgeable, professional and helpful to the court.




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