Since taking office, President Biden has appointed more than 100 Article III judges, which include federal district judges, federal circuit judges, judges of the US Court of International Trade, and Supreme Court justices. Eight of these newly appointed judges are NYU Law alumni. An additional alumna, Carolyn Lerner ’89, has been appointed to the US Court of Federal Claims.
As they add to NYU Law’s representation on the federal bench, these nine new judges bring a range of legal backgrounds, including experience as public defenders. “The Biden administration has really embraced advocates’ calls for professional diversity on the bench,” says Assistant Professor of Law Noah Rosenblum, an expert in administrative law and legal history. “It has prioritized appointing former public defenders, civil rights lawyers, and others with a deep understanding of the role the law can play in protecting the most vulnerable. This is a welcome and long-overdue development, and sends a powerful signal to law students about what kind of legal work our society should value.”
As of April 28, 2023, the following NYU Law alumni have been confirmed as federal district judges:
Victoria Calvert ’06, US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Before taking the bench, Calvert worked for a decade as a staff attorney in the federal public defenders office in her native Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to that, she was an associate at King & Spalding, also in Atlanta, where she worked on cases relating to government investigations.
Tana Lin ’91, US District Court for the Western District of Washington. Beginning her career as a public defender in Washington, DC, Lin then served as an attorney in the US Department of Justice Employment Litigation Section and as a senior attorney in the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Chicago office. In 2004 she joined the complex litigation department of Seattle-based law firm Keller Rohrback, becoming a partner in 2008 and serving as of counsel from 2020 until her nomination to the bench in 2021.
Katherine Menendez ’97, US District Court for the District of Minnesota. Menendez served as a public defender in the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Minnesota for 15 years. In 2016, she was named US magistrate judge for Minnesota, a position she held until being elevated to the district court in 2021.
Nina Morrison ’98, US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Morrison came to the bench following 20 years at the Innocence Project, a nonprofit whose goal is to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. Having joined the Innocence Project as an attorney in 2002, she went on to become the organization’s executive director and senior litigation counsel. Earlier in her career, she was an associate at Emery, Cuti, Brinckerhoff & Abady, where she focused on civil rights litigation.
Jinsook Ohta ’01, US District Court for the Southern District of California. Ohta most recently served as a judge on the San Diego County Superior Court after being nominated by California governor Gavin Newsom in 2020. From 2011 to 2020, Ohta served as deputy attorney general and then as supervising deputy attorney general in the consumer protection section of the California Attorney General’s Office. She also taught as an associate professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and worked as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers and Sheppard Mullin.
Jennifer Rearden ’96, US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Rearden worked on complex commercial litigation at Davis Polk & Wardwell and King & Spalding before joining the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a partner in 2003. Rearden was a member of Gibson Dunn’s litigation and crisis management practice groups.
Jennifer Rochon ’97, US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Before her appointment, Rochon served as the first-ever general counsel for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Previously, she had worked at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel from 2000 to 2013 as an associate and then a partner, handling a range of cases from complex commercial litigation to regulatory matters.
Margaret Strickland ’06, US District Court for the District of New Mexico. After serving as a public defender in the office of the New Mexico Public Defender, Strickland became a partner at New Mexico civil rights and personal injury firm McGraw & Strickland in 2011. From 2017 to 2019, she also served as president of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
Appointed to the US Court of Federal Claims:
Carolyn Lerner ’89. Lerner was a founding partner of the civil rights and employment firm Heller, Huron, Chertkof, Lerner, Simon & Salzman, where she practiced until 2011. From 2011 to 2017, she served as head of the US Office of Special Counsel. From 2017 until her appointment to the bench, Lerner was the chief circuit mediator for federal courts of the Washington, DC Circuit.
Posted April 28, 2023. Updated May 26, 2023