Commencement Speaker

Judge Judith Kaye

Judith S. Kaye joined the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom as Of Counsel in February 2009. Before joining the firm, for more than 25 years she served in the New York State Judiciary, appointed in 1983 by Governor Mario Cuomo as an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals (New York State's high court) and then in 1993 appointed by Governor Cuomo as Chief Judge of the State of New York. Judge Kaye is the first woman ever to serve on the Court of Appeals and the first to be appointed New York's Chief Judge, a position she held for 15 years -- longer than any other chief judge in New York's history. She is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Barnard College.

As a Judge, she gained a national reputation for both her groundbreaking decisions and her innovative reforms of the New York State court system. She wrote notable decisions on a wide array of constitutional, statutory and common law issues. As Chief Judge she also left her mark on New York's courts as a creative reformer, improving the jury system, establishing a Commercial Division of the State Supreme Court, streamlining procedures for permanency for children, and spearheading "problem-solving courts" to deal constructively with repeat offenders, offering on-site services for drug treatment, mental health counseling and job training. She is the author of numerous publications, including articles on legal process, state constitutional law, women in law and professional ethics. Her current Board service includes the American Arbitration Association, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Volunteers of Legal Services and the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. She is a former President of the Conference of Chief Justices and Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts.