Junctures: In Life and In Law – Vol. 20 No. 1

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Author: Judith S. Kaye*

Published: April 2010

New York

Description: The Honorable Judith S. Kaye, after more than fifteen years as New York’s Chief Judge, recently reflected on her experiences to members of the arbitration bar. The Review is honored to publish these reflections, which strikingly illustrate the benefits of thoughtful cross-fertilization between litigation and arbitration.

My recent departure from the City of Albany, after 25 years, three months, 19 days and 12 hours, first as a Judge and then as Chief Judge, of New York State’s high court leads me to the subject of this article. For all of us, junctures are, in so many different ways, an inevitable and important subject–a great opportunity for reflection and change.

Chapter 1 of my lawyer life (21 years) I spent essentially, and happily, as a commercial litigator in New York City law firms, a chapter that included litigation as well as arbitration. Arbitration back then was still relatively youthful, as I was. Chapter 2 was my glorious quarter-century on New York’s high court, the Court of Appeals. For the last 15 of those years I had both a judicial role as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals–about 80% of my time–and a chief executive officer, administrative role as Chief Judge of the State of New York–the other 80% of my time. In my judicial role, our Court’s encounters with arbitration can generally be summarized in just one word: “Affirmed.” In our review of arbitration awards, I learned the true meaning of the word deference.

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*Judge Kaye is now Of Counsel to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. This article is adapted from remarks delivered before the College of Commercial Arbitrations on October 30, 2009, and supplemented after a session with the City Bar Association’s Committee on International Arbitration on December 17, 2009.