Q: Please tell us about your legal career.
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.
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
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
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
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
Q: What advice do you have for new lawyers
entering the profession, and for seasoned lawyers continuing in it?
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.
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
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.