Judge Jim Hubert

 

A Q&A with Judge Jim Hubert, New York State Supreme Court justice

After graduation, Judge Hubert worked as an assistant district attorney in Queens, N.Y., where he became the bureau chief and major offense trial prosecutor. In 1993, he went into private practice in White Plains, N.Y. Judge Hubert was a town court justice for the town of Greenburgh, N.Y., from 2005 to 2007. He became an active judge of the New York State Supreme Court (Westchester County) from 2007 to 2015, a trial judge in the New York State Supreme Court, 9th and 12th Judicial Districts from 2007 to the present, and has been sitting as a Supreme Court justice since 2015 (9th Judicial District, on loan to the 12th Judicial District).


 

Why did you decide to go into private practice?

As much as I loved being an assistant district attorney, I felt I needed the challenge of hanging my own shingle and expanding my exposure to different areas of the law. I needed to “break out.” Joining a law firm would probably have given me a defined framework and eased the trial and error of my first couple of years; but I didn’t want the restraint and limitations.

If I knew anything at all, it was how to try a case before a jury. I felt strongly that this kind of experience would be a reasonable foundation for my practice, and it was. On the civil side, most litigators, even the experienced ones, had little actual trial experience. Most civil cases settle during litigation, and before trial. Some firms will hire an outside trial attorney, with experience, to try the case. That became a source of business and revenue which grew over time.

The main thing that kept me going for the nearly 15 years I spent in solo practice was the freedom. Building a practice was (next to fatherhood) the most difficult (scary) thing I ever did. I was my own boss, which probably suited my personality but, fortunately, also tempered it. I was never bored, though, not infrequently, I was up all night when I wished I could sleep. In the end, I found truth in the old saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

How did you enter the judiciary?

It’s more appropriate to say that I waded into it. In 1999, I saw an article in my local paper about the search for a town justice to fill the vacancy of a retiring judge. Since it was part-time and would not substantially affect my practice (which was mostly in New York City), I thought it would be a good experiment. I was not selected but the vetting process opened some doors and got me on the radar. Five years later (2004), the town created a third town justice position to address the growing caseload, and I was tapped to step in. It was an elected position and, with much support, I was elected. It turned out to be a great fit, and opened the door to subsequent judicial positions (Westchester County Court, New York Supreme Court).

What is it like to run for a judgeship:

It’s the ultimate networking experience. It is also incredibly humbling and not for the faint-of-heart. You may start out full of yourself, but you’ll quickly find out that it’s not always about you. That’s a good thing. You have to gain and keep people’s trust and confidence, not just during the election process, but always. Everyone won’t like you, but you can still get their respect if you work at it. You have to learn how to connect with people very different from you (something we could all do a lot more of right about now).

Back to newsletter >>