From Courtroom to Classroom
Adjunct Professor and Judge Stephen Ukeiley brings his work from the bench into the classroom.
Touro Law Center has always had a focus on creating practice-ready lawyers who are prepared to handle real-world situations in the field of law. We have an array of faculty members who are recognized in their field for their experience as attorneys and judges, including Professor and Judge Stephen Ukeiley. Judge Ukeiley has been a Suffolk County District Court Judge since 2008 and has recently earned the highest possible rating of “Qualified” from the Suffolk County Bar Association Judicial Screening Committee.
Judge Ukeiley’s qualifications are quite impressive. He was appointed as Acting County Court Judge and also sits on Suffolk County’s only Human Trafficking Court, one of only 11 in the state. In his tenure, Judge Ukeiley has written a number of articles and has published two editions of his book The Bench Guide to Landlord & Tenant Disputes in New York. He has also overseen an impressive number of cases in his tenure: “In a little more than five years, I have presided over to completion in excess of 60,000 criminal and civil cases. Each case is another learning experience and teaching opportunity which I can share with the students.”
At Touro Law Center, Judge Ukeiley is an adjunct professor of Landlord & Tenant Law. According to Judge Ukeiley, “This area of law is statutory specific and rule-oriented which is both challenging and exhilarating. Landlord and Tenant Law is a wonderful practice area, particularly for newly admitted attorneys, to gain critical courtroom experience and knowledge.”
However, Touro Law students don’t just learn the black-letter law, they experience it first hand, thanks to our faculty who all have extensive practical experience in their field of work. According to Judge Ukeiley, “The course is practical-based and takes the students through the eviction process. The students are given the opportunity to observe actual cases in the District Court and meet with the Presiding Judge in Chambers following the session. These hands-on, practical experiences are invaluable.”
It is no wonder that Judge Ukeiley is recognized by his students as a great professor. One student and recent Touro Law alumnus, Alex Berkman ’13, now works at Nassau-Suffolk Law Services Committee, Inc. as a staff attorney (pending New York State Bar admission) and works in the housing unit which focuses on landlord-tenant law and Section 8 housing issues. It’s no doubt that Judge Ukeiley’s class had an influence on Alex’s career path. “Judge Ukeiley teaches the practice of law, not just the law… Rather than structure the class with chunks of time allotted for specific topical discussion in relation to an area within this otherwise small practice area, Judge Ukeiley spends the class discussing practice and the practical applications of statute and case law,” Alex stated.
Judge Ukeiley has found that his students appreciate his experience on the bench and look to him to inform how they can be successful lawyers in the future. According to Judge Ukeiley, “My experience on the Bench has greatly enhanced my teaching abilities… The combination of real-life anecdotes and a practice-oriented setting is of particular value and interest to the students. My goal is to provide the necessary skill sets and practical experience that the students are prepared to handle a case by the completion of the course.”
Current third year student Bryan Bryks, confirms the effectiveness of Judge Ukeiley’s teaching method. According to Bryan, “Judge Ukeiley’s unique approach to the classroom offers his students the opportunity to learn not just the law, but how the law is actually applied in our courts. Furthermore, the Judge’s countless connections made while practicing and as a judge gives the students the added advantage of hearing from a large selection of guest speakers, each one bringing their unique and specialized approach to the practice of law. The Judge clearly has a passion to teach, shown by the enthusiasm he brings to the classroom each and every time.”
Similarly, Judge Ukeiley has always been as passionate about teaching as he has been about the law. Prior to teaching at Touro Law, he also taught at NYIT for fifteen years. According to Judge Ukeiley, “Teaching is a wonderfully challenging and rewarding experience. I can think of no greater way to give back to the legal profession which I have immensely enjoyed as a law clerk, practitioner, arbitrator and now a sitting judge.”
It’s difficult to imagine how Judge Ukeiley manages his time, balancing running for re-election this year alongside his judging, teaching and family life. According to Judge Ukeiley, “When you enjoy your work as much as I do, making time to adequately prepare for all of the day’s challenges is not a problem. I am also very fortunate in that I work with some of the most interesting and brightest people I know, and together, everything always gets done.” Judge Ukeiley is an active member of the following bar associations and organizations: Board of Directors of the Suffolk County Women's Bar Association and its Mentoring Committee; Executive Committee of the Alexander Hamilton American Inn of Court (Suffolk County); Suffolk Academy of Law, the educational branch of the Suffolk County Bar Association; and the co-Chair Suffolk County Bar Association’s Landlord and Tenant Law Committee.
Touro Law Center is proud of the distinguished faculty at the law school, including Judge Ukeiley. Our professors are equally passionate about ensuring our students get a complete and practical education that prepares them for their careers as lawyers. According to Judge Ukeiley, “My interaction with both students and staff has been fantastic. The students are wonderful and enthusiastic, and I feel a tremendous sense of pride each time I enter the Law Center. I am particularly fond of answering students’ questions regarding law school and career-oriented decisions. I was fortunate to receive sound advice from individuals I respected when I was a student, and it is very important to me that I do the same for our future attorneys.”
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